Learning to Listen

I like Walmart. There. I said it. Please don’t hate me. I even acknowledge the greeters as long as they don’t try to engage me in too much conversation. After all, I’m there to get in and get what I want.

It’s easy to treat people the same way I treat Walmart greeters. As long as people help me get what I want, or at least don’t block me from it, we’re all good. But as soon as they try to engage me too much, especially if they want to talk about differing views or don’t make me feel good about myself, they don’t get positive reviews on my ‘customer survey’!


What to do? Acknowledge or ignore the ‘greeters’? Learning to listen and understand diverse voices in Nashville is vital to becoming an increasingly vibrant city; a city where people harmonize in our differences.

New Nashville seeks to provide a safe space for directed, open discussion. Diverse voices are needed. The next discussion is this Thursday, April 27th.  The topic for this season is Immigration.

Come for food and drink at 5:30 PM. The discussion starts at 6:00.

Thursday, April 27
5:30 PM
3 Cannery Row 37203
(Look for New Nashville signs and park in the lot right across the alley/street even though it says reserved until 8:00 PM)

‘Greeters’ are welcome.

Come Together

Ever gone to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles)?  Lots of waiting...waiting...waiting.  Lots of different nationalities and languages.  Lots of frustration and irritability.  Everybody’s trying to get something, but nobody’s really sure how to get it, when they’ll get it, or if they’ll get it. 
Living in an increasingly diversifying city like Nashville can feel a lot like the DMV.  Nobody’s really sure how it’s going to go.  Presently, 12% of the population of Nashville is foreign born.  That number continues to grow. 
We believe Nashville can be more like Playing for Change than the DMV.  We believe people from different cultures and faiths can actually come together in harmony instead of self-focused frustration. 
Join us tonight and the next four Thursdays (April 13, 20, 27, May 4) to discuss “Immigration: Embracing our growing diversity, Engaging different cultures and faith.” 
5:30                        Food and drinks
6:00                        Stories and presentations re: Immigration
6:20                        Q&A and discussion

Small Town, Big Impact

Our family just returned from New York City where my son starts school in the fall.  What an amazing city!  Sinatra got it right: “I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps!”  While there, we visited the 9/11 memorial and museum.  It was very moving for me.  It reminded me of a story of another city that united as an influence for good on a  day characterized by evil.

On September 11, 2001, 240 U.S.bound flights were diverted to Canada when American airspace was closed due to the terrorist attacks.  Thirty-nine of those flights were re-routed to Gander, a town of about 10,000 people in Newfoundland.  After spending as much as 28 hours on the planes, the 6,579  passengers were allowed to disembark.  Gander took them in.  They came to be known as the “plane people.”  


The people of Gander and surrounding fishing villages filled their schools, homes, community rooms and churches with cots for the stranded passengers, including the 17 dogs and cats and 2 great apes that came with them!  The mayor and most of the residents cooked them elaborate meals, let them sleep in their homes, use their showers, borrow their cars.  The residents  provided them with needed medication and access to phones and computers so they could contact family and friends.  On a day when evil seemed to prevail, hope and beauty prevailed.

The passengers were finally able to reboard their planes after 3 days.  None of the townspeople would accept money.  A longtime fundraiser for a major U.S. university was returning home on Delta #15.  She had an idea.  She asked each of the passengers on the flight to contribute to a scholarship fund for the children of Gander.  They had $15,000 by the time they landed.  The Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship fund has now grown to about $2 million.  Close to 250 graduates of Lewisporte Collegiate have received scholarships.

A small town making a big impact - serving, extending hospitality to the disenfranchised, sacrificing for others simply because they are “plane people.”  Then, the “plane people” giving back.  

This does not have to be a one-off inspiring story.  We long to see this be a continual norm in our city.  New Nashville exists to promote a safe yet challenging space to explore ideas, opinions and stories so that understanding, dignity and respect grows among plain people like us in this city.

Our new season of the New Nashville Gathering begins April 

This season our topic will be Immigration: what it means for our city to embrace its growing diversity and how different cultures and faiths interact. LEARN MORE

Nashville Could Be Different

Nashville is at a crucial juncture in its history.

We are not yet a truly diverse city, but we are about to become one, and the real question is: Can we do it right?

The faces of Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East will be present in all walks of Nashville life. The prayers of Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists will echo with those of Protestants and Catholics and Jews. Spanish will be a close second to English in our classrooms and marketplaces. We can see these challenges as opportunities to grow or as threats to the status quo. The choice is ours.


Nashville could be different. It could become a city second to none in this century. For all of its faults, this big patch in the middle of Tennessee is a community. It has drawn people of varied backgrounds to this region for centuries. We might not like one another every day, all the time, but we love Nashville. For that reason alone, we need to get it right in the 21st century.

Almost prophetically, John Egerton wrote these words 12 years ago in Nashville: An American Self-Portrait (20005). "It seems Nashville is still at a crucial juncture of being a truly diverse city that functions as a community." 

We’d love to hear your thoughts. How are we doing as a city? Are we doing it right? Can we do it right?

"All Ways Are Equal"

A part of every individual and culture says, “The truth is that all ways up the mountain are equally valid.”  Often called ‘relativism,’ this part seems very open-minded, kind and accepting. 

Another part of every individual and culture says, “The truth is that only one way up the mountain is valid.”  Often called ‘moralism,’ this part seems very close-minded, judgmental and intolerant.  


Ironically, both are essentially the same.  Each believes it knows the truth.  Both relativism and moralism say “This is the way.”  This clash between parts keeps us from individually and culturally experiencing harmony in our dissonance, unity in our diversity, justice in our injustice and understanding in our disagreements and disgust.

Is there a way out?  Only if one can actually see the whole mountain.  Jesus appears and says not “This is the way” but “I am the way.”  Yet he does so without any sense of arrogance or self-righteousness. Instead, he does so with both great joy and measured sobriety.  

As opposed to proposing our differing ways, let us consider the way of Jesus together.  In doing so, it can only prosper both us and our city. 

Nobody Wants to Be Tolerated

“Ultimately, tolerance is too weak a concept to be attributed to God.  God is so much more than tolerant that Christians can rightly ignore it as a fundamental goal for their own lives – but only if they are willing to live by a much higher standard…The standard of love…By God’s standards we are worse than intolerant – we often fail to love.”  Daniel Taylor, Is God Intolerant? 

Nobody wants to be tolerated. None of us wants to be tolerated by friends, spouses, neighbors or co-workers. Yet we live in a culture that espouses tolerance as the answer that will bring harmony into dissonance, unity into diversity, and understanding into disagreement and disgust. 


Only love - not tolerance - can bring real change from the inside out. Only love can change us at the level of our motivations and desires. And that’s real change. A changed life can, in turn, lead to changed relationships, families, workplaces and cities. “By God’s standards we are worse than intolerant – we often fail to love.”  Love is much more difficult than tolerance, yet could anyone really live by the much higher standard of love?

Join us Wednesday at the New Nashville Gathering to discuss more!



"Creed" by Steve Turner

Abridged from the satirical poem “Creed” by Steve Turner

We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe that everything is getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe Jesus was a good man
just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher
although we think His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same--
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it's compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.

We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

Abridged from the satirical poem “Creed” by Steve Turner

Join us Wednesday for the New Nashville Gathering!


listen to the whole poem below


Why Tolerance Is Condescending

On Wednesday the New Nashville Gathering starts back up. Our topic this season is "Why Tolerance Doesn’t Work". In a time where words like tolerance and acceptance have many definitions and perceptions, how do we interact with those different than us?

This video from Penn Jillette raises the type of questions we hope to discuss together. Join us Wednesday at 5:30 at Cannery Row. Get more details HERE.