Starbucks and Willow Creek: The Real Issue for Howard Schultz and Bill Hybels

UPDATE: @Andrew_Marin just tweeted: “Attending #wcagls today as special guest of Willow Creek re: Starbucks CEO cancellation.” That’s great news. Check him out:

The original post:

Twelve hours ago, the Chicago Tribune ran a story of Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, cancelling a speaking engagement at the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit, originally scheduled for Friday afternoon. The cancellation may be related to an online petition that was circulating that protested the appearance. This morning at the Summit, Willow Creek Pastor Bill Hybels will comment on the situation and the church’s stance.

All this has me thinking.

Actually, this has me continuing to think. Rachel Held Evans and Mark Driscoll ramped a vigorous conversation up recently on gender. Campus Crusade for Christ changed their name to Cru in order to tell more people the good news about Jesus and people went off on them. Carl Medearis said evangelicals should stop evangelizing and got 3600 comments over on CNN’s site. And don’t get me started on the “discussions” happening during recall elections stemming from union issues this week in my home state of Wisconsin.

Whether considering differing views of gender, the approach of an organization to their stated purpose, policies toward unions, or views on homosexuality, we’re often behaving like a bunch of preschoolers. While I do have hope from Kristof’s recent piece giving evangelical Christians a bit of credit, my camp often makes me shake my head in disbelief or hang it in shame.

The real issue, though, are people are both sides of every divide: We don’t know how to engage in ongoing, mutually beneficial, constructive dialog, even when we close by saying, “We disagree.” We have a national disorder.

We’re dealing with issues that spring from deeply held beliefs, our worldviews, our faiths (even you, my atheist friends). Do we honestly think getting a speaker to pull out of an event is helpful? Or that blindly pronouncing painful judgment will “work”? Do we really understand those who disagree with us? Are we speaking with gentleness and respect?

In looking at the Willow situation, both sides of the issue are constrained, whether by their deepest convictions, biological wiring, or a combination of both.

We all lose by not carrying on a conversation.