A mediation colleague in Chicago, Bob Berliner, recently used the term “theology” to describe the various schools of thought regarding mediation, such as evaluative, facilitative and transformative. He was using the term somewhat tongue-in-cheek and as shorthand for the idea of belief systems that individual mediators hold, as well as the debates among those mediators.
It got me thinking. Is there some similarity between how we develop our religious beliefs and how we develop our mediation styles? I’m not suggesting that our religious beliefs are linked to our mediation styles, but rather that similar forces are at work in developing these two sets of belief systems.
The thing that really struck me about this way of looking at our beliefs in our mediator styles is that none of them is based on proof any more than religious beliefs are based on proof. Indeed, we don’t even agree on what those standards would be for proving that one approach to mediation is better than another. In the world’s religions, no single approach is likely to dominate the entire globe, and in mediation, no single style is likely to dominate all of mediation. Depending on your theology in both areas, that might be good news or bad news.