talking about politics and religion

1920htThe old adage goes something like this: “Never discuss politics or religion in polite company.” But this morning, while the rest of the Internet is talking about the Cubs’ World Series win over the Indians, I’d like to do both.

My Wednesday evening men’s covenant group at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church is learning to love and respect one other on many levels. We’re all over the map theologically, socially, and politically, and we’re all in different places along the pathway when it comes to our faith journey; but we’re on the same page when it comes to the central fact of our lives – we want to know God on a deeper level, and we want to grow as disciples of Jesus.

but we’re on the same page when it comes to the central fact of our lives – we want to know God on a deeper level, and we want to grow as disciples of Jesus.

Political Feudalism

Because of the love and the trust in the group, I wanted us to be able to have an honest conversation about this election. You see, the problem with the never discuss politics or religion rule is that it forces us to only have those conversations with people we already agree with, thereby fostering a climate where America divides into defensive camps, and we no longer know how to engage in constructive dialogue.

What we have, when we eliminate respectful discussion about politics or religion, is a nation that practices a kind of 21st century feudalism; political feudalism and religious feudalism. It’s a posture that’s defensive, isolationist, and medieval.

What we have, when we eliminate respectful discussion about politics or religion, is a nation that practices a kind of 21st century feudalism; political feudalism and religious feudalism. It’s a posture that’s defensive, isolationist, and medieval.

So we had a deep, faith based, mutually respectful, solution-oriented conversation. One of the men, when asked what their prayer is for this nation, said, “That America learns to have more conversations like this.”

One particularly insightful comment suggested the real responsibility for constructive change lies with us, not the candidates for POTUS, the regular Americans who have allowed ourselves to be cordoned off into divisive camps.

And of course, this telling observation: If you can’t have open, honest conversations in your faith community, because there’s a sense at your church that “real Christians” should all vote for “Candidate X,” or all think in lockstep, then we have lost the essential defining characteristic of our “Great Experiment” as America.

If you can’t have open, honest conversations in your faith community, because there’s a sense at your church that “real Christians” should all vote for “Candidate X,” or all think in lockstep, then we have lost the essential defining characteristic of our “Great Experiment” as America.

We all left last night’s gathering feeling positive; fourteen men buoyed with faith, belief, commitment to live as disciples, and even more respect for one another’s ideas.

That’s how it works when we remember that we all have something to learn, that everyone brings value to the table, and that we serve a God who is constantly working on each one of us – because it’s not about who is right and who is wrong, so much as it’s about taking this journey together and simply doing the best that we can.

Here’s the outline for the discussion (below). You should try it sometime. Peace – in every way – DEREK

So, this is the Wednesday we get to talk about politics!

Hymn for the week – “My Redeemer is Faithful and True” (Steven Curtis Chapman).

O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
 O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock forever!
 For I know that my Redeemer  lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God. –Job 19:23-26

There will be no negatives about “the other” candidate. Just an honest conversation about our feelings vis-a-vis the presidency and our future.

We went through the following discussion questions:

  • “What is America to you?” What do we stand for? What makes us unique as a nation?
  • Let’s think about what a president actually is. The role has shifted over time. What do you want to see in a U.S. President?
  • Present something positive about the future – how do you believe we can possibly make government (Federal) better going forward?
  • Are our “checks and balances” adequate?
  • What gives you hope for the future of the U.S.?
  • What gives you reason to worry about our future?
  • What question would you like to ask, if you were a presidential debate moderator (one to fit both)?
  • If you want to reveal your voting plan, please share one or two things you feel your candidate offers that will be good for America.
  • What is your prayer for this country over the next two weeks (the election and the immediate aftermath).

Then we closed by praying for one another, and for the United States.

One comment

  1. Well done Derek. I thought your idea of a discussion was good, but even better the questions you put together to discuss. Dorothea and John

    Like

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