Guiding wisdom from the season Faith, Politics & Neighbors : A VERY rough draft

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1 Guiding wisdom from the season Faith, Politics & Neighbors : A VERY rough draft 1. Liberty of conscience is the plumb line of the American idea, in religion as in other spheres; this means those who disagree with you/are of a different faith also have liberty of their conscience too. 2. Our biggest mistakes navigating faith in the public square arise when we try to make mythos into logos and logos into mythos rather than maintaining a distinction between (and appreciation for) truths, wisdom (or Truth for those of faith) and empirical fact (see explanation in next section below) 3. In the founding of our country, the framers assumed a whole set of ideas that grew out of Protestant Christianity. 4. Non-establishment of a state religion is uniquely and fundamentally American and should be protected as such. 5. Separation of church and state does not mean that faith need be exiled from the public square, rather the remedy is a public discussion rich with faith factions, including those with no faith and/or critical of faith. (The Founders concept was that factionalism was a check/balance on excess, but we have to keep talking for that to work.) 6. The role of the court system in ensuring minority rights is a new one, as of the middle of the 20 th century. 7. John Marks: We are the most tediously offended people. We might want to relax a bit, rather than look for the next offense. 8. History is replete with examples of religion compromised by its collusion with power. 9. Lose the evil they a singularly unhelpful concept in navigating turbulent waters where faith and politics meet. 10. An accurate read on scale and intensity when assessing opposition in the culture wars is important.

2 Corollary: Disproportionate response yields an equal and opposite disproportionate response; this creates an escalating cycle that interferes with constructive engagement and creates the very attitudes you fear. 11. Don t wish for black to be a little blacker ; fixing your perception of reality around a vilification of another group, set in stone irrespective of mitigating facts, is the path toward being fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred. (C.S. Lewis) 12. Embrace the power of AND: Contradictory facts and opposing trends can and do exist simultaneously and always have. Culture is always a contested thing. 13. Argument in substance rather than symbols can yield a greater understanding. Symbolic argument can obscure the agreement that exists. 14. Our conversation would benefit from better translation between the languages of faith communities and secular ones, rather than the current ever increasing volume. 15. Avoid arguing the domino theory. Any position can be dangerous when taken to an extreme. 16. We have to communicate in paragraphs, not soundbytes. Corollary: We have to stop discarding people based on soundbytes or one word categorizations such as Christian or liberal 17. Take a good long look at who wins from maintaining the culture war and consider their motivation before you buy their arguments. 18. Learn to recognize faith as a wedge issue when you see it in operation. 19. You are likely to learn the most from people you disagree with substantially. 20. Can the double standards We judge ourselves/ our side by our intensions and others/ their side by their outcome, which can often be miles apart (as flawed humans are involved). (In a Christian sense, we want to administer justice while we want to receive grace.)

3 21. Enlarge your moral community. The whole of the human race is deserving of your concern, not just the portion you agree with. 22. Seek first to understand. Corollary: Stop judging others based on little knowledge. Corollary 2: Factcheck the quotes. Be sure someone really meant what you re attributing to them. 23. Occasionally cross a threshold; break bread with people who simply don t see it your way. Amazing things could happen. 24. Good people of different parties, of different faiths and no faith at all can agree on much good work that needs to be done in the world. Why not stop talking and do it? Karen Armstrong: MYTHOS AND LOGOS [In the pre-modern world] both were essential; they were regarded as complementary ways of arriving at truth, and each had its special area of competence. Myth was regarded as primary; it was concerned with what was thought to be timeless and constant in our existence. Myth looked back to the origins of life, to the foundations of culture, and to the deepest levels of the human mind. Myth was not concerned with practical matters, but with meaning Myth could not be demonstrated by rational proof; its insights were more intuitive Logos was the rational, pragmatic, and scientific thought that enabled men and women to function well in the world.. We are very familiar with logos, which is the basis of our society. Unlike myth, logos must relate exactly to facts and correspond to external realities if it is to be effective.

4 Each would be impoverished without the other. Yet the two were essentially distinct, and it was held to be dangerous to confuse mythical and rational discourse. They had separate jobs to do. Myth [did not need to be] demonstrated empirically. It provided the context of meaning that made our practical activities worthwhile. You were not supposed to make myth the basis of a pragmatic policy. If you did, the results could be disastrous, because what worked well in the inner world of the psyche was not readily applicable to the affairs of the external world. Logos had its limitations too. It could not assuage human pain or sorrow. Rational arguments could make no sense of tragedy. Logos could not answer questions about the ultimate value of human life. By the eighteenth century, however, the people of Europe and America had achieved such astonishing success in science and technology that they began to think that logos was the only means to truth and began to discount mythos as false and superstitious Our religious experience in the modern world has changed, and because an increasing number of people regard scientific rationalism alone as true, they have often tried to turn the mythos of their faith into logos. Fundamentalists have also made this attempt. This confusion has led to more problems. Statement signed by religious leaders across faiths and denominations: Exclusionary religious rhetoric by candidates and constant scrutiny of the minutiae of their faiths undermine religion's valuable role in public life. It also runs contrary to the unique American commitment to both religious freedom and non-establishment of religion. History is replete with

5 examples of religion compromised by its collusion with power, and the role of religion in the current campaign raises concern that it is once again being misused. As citizens of faith united in efforts to reinvigorate religion s role in the public square, we are convinced that the greatest protection for that role is clear and unambiguous support for both religious expression and non-establishment of religion. Following Article VI of the U. S. Constitution and the First Amendment, we identify three basic principles: No person should be expected to leave their faith at the door when operating in the public square. But it is inappropriate to use religious or doctrinal differences to marginalize or disparage candidates, by either comparison or assertion. No religious test may be applied to candidates for public office - not by the law, not by candidates, not by campaigns. Candidates for public office should welcome the contributions that religion brings to society. But just as government may not endorse or favor a religious faith, candidates for public office are obliged, in their official capacity, to acknowledge that no faith can lay exclusive claim to the moral values that enrich our public life. Just as government policies must be in service to the nation and not to any religious faith, the same holds true for candidates' positions on policies. While it is appropriate for candidates to connect their faith to their policy positions, their positions on policy must respect all citizens regardless of religious belief.

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