on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Take the Other to Lunch

There is nothing new about this idea: “People who have a different point of view need to sit down, listen, and talk to one another.” Simple enough?  Maybe not so much these days.

It appears that dialogue (listening and talking) with a person who has a different point of view from you or me is becoming a lost art.

We hear the Conservatives (Fundamentalists) blame the Moderates (Liberals) for all that is wrong in politics and religion.  And vice versa.  There is no innocent party here.

The truth is you and I do it too on many issues, maybe without realizing it.

So I challenge you to “take the other to lunch,” anyone who has a different view of religion, politics, sports, homosexuality, race, global warming, abortion, Evangelical Christian, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or any issue you choose.

It starts with you and me. Be upfront with the person why you are inviting them, promise you will not to try to convince them of your viewpoint but you want to listen to them. The goal is to get to know one person from a group you have negatively stereotyped (or have strongly disagreed).

Elizabeth Lesser suggests three rules for taking “the other to lunch.”

Conversation Guidelines:

  1. Share some of your life experiences.
  2. What issues deeply concern you?
  3. What have you always wanted to ask someone from the “other side?”

I promise I will have this conversation with someone from the other side.  And I will write about what I learn.

Will you take the other to lunch?  Please let me hear about it through your comments below.


More info:

Elizabeth Lesser gave an interesting 11 minute TED talk on this subject (see video below).

“Elizabeth Lesser is the co-founder of Omega Institute, the US’ largest lifelong learning center focusing on health, wellness, spirituality, creativity and social change. She’s the author of Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow and The Seeker’s Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure. For more than 30 years Lesser has worked with leading figures in the fields of healing—healing self and healing society.”


  1. Janet Griffin

    After hearing what Governor Bentley said, it gave me new insight and new understanding about people I love who share his theology and why they take care of their own so well. Their brothers and sisters are in their family, and their
    family is smaller and more manageable than the whole world. The belief in grace it seems, not grace itself, gets you in the club. The innocence of sharing his theology shows there is no maliciousness. I think he apologized for offending anyone, not for what he said, and did not even at that point realize his theology is so controversial in its exclusiveness.

  2. Malcolm

    Hi Janet, yes, I too was disappointed in our Governor’s evangelical beginning in the first couple of hours on the job.

    Coming from that background myself, I cringe when I hear it in a public context when more than your congregation is listening.

    But, I’ve noticed I use certain labels about “those judgmental people,” which of course puts me in the same camp.

    Instead of blaming him, I’m trying to see what kind of ways I judge the judging. That’s the part I can do something about.

    Thanks to you for your comment,

  3. Janet Griffin

    I have struggled with that also…….was I making judgments when I saw white only signs…….when I saw the freedom riders laying in the street in Montgomery and no one moving to help…….to do justice sometimes is making judgments Are there good judgments and bad judgments? What are the motives behind making these judgments….is it to exclude or include was my final analysis. I don’t like using the term they………is it always wrong? The Klan…..THEY…….the Nazi’s….THEY……….is THEY necessary at times? What about Bonhoeffer? Did he sin when he decided to participate in the plot to assassinate Hitler? Would he have sinned if he had decided not to participate. This is what he struggled with himself………I don’t think we are relieved of wrestling, weighing, struggling…and finally risking a stance, a position, an action, a witness…knowing that we live by grace and are called to be the continuation of the presence ensuring that there is a counterpoint to self righteousness, bigotry, violence, injustice…not impelled by a judgmental spirit (after all, we know self righteousness, bigotry, violence, injustice in ourselves) but by a desire to keep the dialogue going…and the dialoguers respecting each other as “sinners.”

  4. Malcolm

    Janet, you are such a thoughtful, wonderful person.

    Whenever I see persons as THEY, I have just constructed a fence that only gets higher. I have conveniently created a barrier that relieves me of the opportunity to do anything in my own mind or in my own behavior.

    You hit right on it, as it is the dialogue that is critical while seeing that I too, am flawed in my own belief system. I fall short daily. That humility is one of the teachers that we need to hear most.

    Sometimes I ask the question, “How am I like that in my own life?” when I see someone being something that causes me to be judgmental of others. It’s a harder question to ask, and an even more difficult one to answer.

    Thanks again,

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