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Grace-filled Political Conversations – Practice #3
By Jon Buyle
During this election season, our 10 AM Sunday Adult Forum is taking on the topic of how we can bring grace to our political conversations. How can we as Christians, bring humility, forgiveness and even reconciliation to the one area of our lives that seems the most broken. Join us as we explore 8 practices that with God’s help, can transform our political conversations into something that might actually bring us closer together, rather than drive us apart. For more info, or to watch past of future installments: https://christchurchcranbrook.org/grace/
According to the authors of I Think You’re Wrong (but I’m Listening), before we can begin trying out grace-filled political conversations in the wild, we have some self-work to do: Step one was to Take Off Your Jersey — that is to let go of our blind loyalties to our political teams or politicians and embrace complexity and nuance. Freed to think for ourselves, their second step, was to Find Your Why by exploring and discovering our core values that direct our lives and guide our true opinions.
Step three is the subject of this blog article, which is to put politics in its place!
Do you find that political conversation is worth the risk or is it too threatening? Do you just decide to avoid it? The authors believe it is not only worth the risk, but necessary to participate in openhearted political dialogue.
Why is it so hard? We treat politics and government as both the sole cause of our problems and the sole solution. Government has become the only institution to should every problem. That’s in part because other institutions have suffered after decades of societal change. Some examples:
As a result of eroding institutions, we have made politics the most significant force at play in solving problems as either the central cause or singular solution. Every issue becomes existential, resulting in political paralysis. But politics is just one of many forces. Each of us has a role to play and can exert influence in our companies, churches and schools.
So what do we do? The authors have several recommendations:
The authors emphasize their “ethos”. “Some people are in trouble and other people have the tools to help them. Why wouldn’t they?” Imagine how it would be like if we kept that ethos running through our public discourse. Some people are in trouble, and WE have the tools to help them. Imagine seeing yourself as a critical resource to our “neighbors” who are in trouble. Politics should not be a vehicle to escape our responsibilities. Ask yourself, “How can I personally be of service to my neighbor? What can I do with my two hands and with the gifts I have been given?
And what about the election? What to do? Elections are important, but not the beginning or end of the American experiment. “There will be a Wednesday!” Elections, political ideas, and affiliation are only pieces of a much larger, richer puzzle. Things to remember:
“Being taught to avoid talking about politics and religion has led to a lack or understanding of politics and religion. What we should have been taught was how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic”
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