Tackling Tough Topics

We’ve all heard the complaint, “I could be Catholic if it weren’t for (insert unpopular Church teaching).” In this episode, Colin and Marisa break down where this resistance often comes from and discuss how to engage with those people in a disarming and fruitful way. Tune in, and when you’re done listening, send us an email at ascensionroundtable@ascensionpress.com to tell us what’s worked for you when it comes to tackling tough topics.

Part 1: A Framework for the Conversation
  • Ideologies of sentimentality and relativism rule the day—>we need to understand the language of the culture and be able to speak it, too
  • Self Evident truths do not seem to be evident today
  • Relationship must be context in which any tough topic is addressed
  • Propose, don’t mandate
  • Focus on beauty and freedom—>don’t slip into appeals from authority!
  • Move from shared experience to the principle  
Part 2: 7 Tips to Help You Engage
  1.  “Earn the right to be heard.” Love alone is credible. Rarely can we be productive if we just spar with relative strangers. (Tell the story of Aimee and the Abortion clinic)
  2. Don’t get drawn into an ideological sparring match by someone who is just looking for  fight.  When there is not real dialogue, “fights” can be just about as productive as the comment section after a blog.
  3. God gave you two ears and one mouth…on purpose. Actually listen to the heart of the one questioning or objecting to know what is really happening…the issue discussed may not even really be the core issue. To get anywhere you have to listen, in the words of St. Benedict, “with the ear of the heart.”
  4. Restate the person’s argument. Learn from the OX (St. Thomas Aquinas) Make sure you fully understand the objections that one might have. Then address them. This, done well, can be quite helpful and disarming…
  5. Remember John 6:66…and remember why the ones who remain do so. It isn’t on account of intellectual grasping. Fides first…then quarens intellectum. (Faith seeks understanding)
  6. Have solid answers. Elevator speeches aren’t pointless, but they aren’t the be all and end all either. (Check out Ascension’s guide to sensitive topics, a free PDF that is offered as a resource alongside our YOU: Life, Love, and the Theology of the Body program for teens.People might remember that there is an answer that makes sense and that can be charitably presented….but they are unlikely to remember the whole thing. Hopefully hearing a well-thought-out response will cause them to inquire further- and in the right spirit.
  7. Tough topics require backing up several steps for there to be a real understanding. Especially with regard to sex…this is why TOB is what it is…a whole horizon and understanding of the person is needed to really grasp the depth and meaning that leads to the moral prescriptions that turn people off.

 We’d Love to Hear from You

Do you have comments, questions, or topic suggestions for the Ascension Roundtable hosts? Use the comment box below or email us at ascensionroundtable@ascensionpress.com. You may hear your question or comment in an upcoming podcast episode!

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1 Comment

  1. Awesome…..informative….with a guest appearance worth tuning in…you must listen to hear?


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