Ping Pong and Spiritual Friendship

In July 12th’s Waco Tribune-Herald, local luminary Jimmy Dorrell wrote an editorial entitled, “Conquering the World through Ping Pong.” Jimmy plays in a city table tennis club and writes about the way ping pong has broken down barriers across the world, including the instrumental role it played in the normalization of relationships between the US and China. Having just returned from the Society of Scholar-Priests Conference on “Unlearning Partisanship” in Milwaukee, one paragraph jumped out at me:

Through the years, we’ve played thousands of games of serious table tennis. Yet at those same tables, we have talked about moral issues, religion, local community issues, family life and personal concerns. We can even disagree about these. . . . Most of all, we have become friends.

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Davison spoke to us Saturday morning about friendship in Christian theological reflection. He discussed the spiritual friendships he has developed that have aided him in his own theological reflection over the years. As we discussed, we realized that at least part of the antidote to the destructive partisanships that wreak havoc in our churches and nations is just simple friendship, rooted in the Gospel, enacted at Table. We point at this reality by playfully advancing the Beer Principle as a rule of thumb.

The Scholar-Priest Initiative exists to welcome theology home. The Society of Scholar-Priests exists to support scholar-priests in their unique vocation. We are realizing more and more that deep personal friendship is the precondition for both of those nested missions.

So, anyone up for a beer?

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