I had an experience today that is instructive in what not to do, tactically speaking. I was composing a response to a question about free will while riding the train home from work. The train was less than a minute from its destination, when the gentleman next to me—having noticed what I was writing about—asked me if I studied theology. I explained that I do, at which point he asked me, “Do you really believe in what you are writing about?” By this time the train had come to a complete stop, and the man was getting out of his seat to exit the train. As I was putting my computer in my bag I answered him, “Yes, actually I do.” As he continued to walk away I added in a slightly louder voice, “And for good reason.” But it was too late. He was already walking out the door.

 

Hindsight is always 20/20, this being no exception. I missed out on the chance of continuing our dialogue by giving a direct answer to the gentleman’s question. What I should have done is responded with a question. I might have asked an open-ended question such as, “What do you mean by believe?” or “What is it you think I am claiming to believe?” That would have compelled him to stick around a little longer, rather than continue his commute home. Who knows where the conversation would have ended had I done so. Lesson learned.