Conversations, VOLUME 10

Martin Buber – Timely Words on the Virtue of Conversation

This week marked the birthday of theologian Martin Buber… 

In the fragmented world driven by social media, Martin Buber’s words give us the compelling hope of being in conversation and being present with others. They orient us toward the shalom that God intends for creation.

Here are 5 important passages that illuminate the virtues of conversation in the present age…

 

Receiving the Presence

 

Man receives, and he receives not a specific “content,” but a Presence, a Presence as power. The Presence and this power include three things, undivided, yet in such a way that we may consider them separately. First, there is the whole fullness of real mutual action, of the being raised and bound up in relation:  the man can give no account at all of how the binding in relation is brought about, nor does it in any way lighten his life – it makes it heavier, but heavy with meaning.  Secondly, there is the inexpressible confirmation of meaning. Meaning is assured. Nothing can any longer be meaningless. The question about the meaning of life is no longer there. … Thirdly, this meaning is not that of “another life”, but that of this world of ours, and it desires its confirmation in this life and in relation with this world. This meaning can be received, but not experienced; it cannot be experienced, but it can be done, and this is its purpose with us. The assurance I have of it does not wish to be sealed within me, but it wishes to be born by me into the world.

  • I and Thou, (Smith trans.) 110-111

 

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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