Direct communication is most effective when you have a strong relationship with someone. It’s much easier to tell a friend that you don’t like the smell of their new home fragrance dispenser, than to say that to someone you’re visiting for the first time.
Despite the potential awkwardness or conflict that could result from speaking your mind, expressing an opinion is fundamental to living in a free society. Often we find ourselves accommodating strangers by withholding our perspective for the sake of a sense of peace - a public courtesy. This often turns into shallow exchanges and conversations about the weather or some other neutral happenstance. This isn’t bad, but it definitely isn’t going to result in an impactful moment.
It’s typical to associate with people we believe to be ‘like-minded,’ meaning they share a culture or a religious preference with us. However, it’s rare for us to know their particular perspectives on major issues, even though we share that association with them. This is because being a part of a group with articles of association, or statements of faith, there is an automatic, general consensus about the positions the group takes concerning those major issues. We even use very general terms to describe this association, like conservative or liberal, muslim or christian, upper class, or urban. However, by associating with generalized groups, we do away with the need to work through difficult issues, because it’s assumed we shared a perspective when in reality, we may not.
In other words, because we recognize the potential for conflict in expressing our opinions, we find venues where we would likely agree with someone, even if we were to have met them for the first time. In that case, the opportunity to develop the social skill of dialogue is stunted and we lose the art of conversation.
What venues exist in our society for the expression of perspective or opinion? Where can a collective consciousness find an avenue for discussion?
Where can people have relevant issues raised and be given the opportunity to strengthen their relationships by entering into dialogue and conversation?
Our response to these questions is “The Arts at Center Street.” We have outfitted our general meeting area into a venue to host a variety of artistic expressions, including music and theater.
Our hope is that, through this medium, the venue could become a neutral location for people of the greater Nashville area to enjoy quality entertainment and also be impacted with meaningful perspectives that would provoke healthy dialogue within their respective association of acquaintances. We want to give people an opportunity to strengthen their relationships by having something meaningful to talk about.
Last month was the launch of The Arts at Center Street, where the venue hosted “A Night of One Acts.” On Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening, four original productions were performed, two stage plays and two musicals. Everything from the writing and directing, to the production and acting, was done by participants of the G.O.D. Int’l community. There were over 150 people in attendance over the weekend for a venue that comfortably seats 40 - 50, it was packed!
Isaiah 1: 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD...”
This memorable verse shows us God’s desire to enter into a relevant conversation. In the context of Isaiah 1, the people had become involved in meaningless activity, substituting religious practice for the issues they really needed to address. Our hope is that The Arts at Center Street will offer people the opportunity to enter into reasonable discussions that God considers meaningful.