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Thread: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Obligatory disclaimer:
    This thread is not a political thread, nor is it an opportunity to second-guess closure of recent political threads. Those decisions were made, and the decisions stand as-is.

    This thread IS an exploration of the question of why mature people of faith seem to lose civility when the topic is politics.
    (end of disclaimer)

    Give it some thought. Are politics and faith in separate silos and never the two shall meet?

    As holiness people, we talk about sanctification with terms like 'entire'. What does it mean then if we live the law of love...except for political topics...or questions of race....or social justice...or economic policy...or healthcare?

    Is the Spirit truly impotent in those areas? Is this a theological crisis? ...a credibility gap?
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

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    Senior Member Benjamin Hobbs's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Obligatory disclaimer:
    This thread is not a political thread, nor is it an opportunity to second-guess closure of recent political threads. Those decisions were made, and the decisions stand as-is.

    This thread IS an exploration of the question of why mature people of faith seem to lose civility when the topic is politics.
    (end of disclaimer)

    Give it some thought. Are politics and faith in separate silos and never the two shall meet?

    As holiness people, we talk about sanctification with terms like 'entire'. What does it mean then if we live the law of love...except for political topics...or questions of race....or social justice...or economic policy...or healthcare?

    Is the Spirit truly impotent in those areas? Is this a theological crisis? ...a credibility gap?
    This is the big issue for me. Jesus tends to be privatized while American religion (read: National pride/capitalism/individual freedom/personal responsibility/etc) is a public matter.


    Another big issue is the caring for the poor/needy and who gets to do it. Mind you not who should be doing it, but who should be allowed to do it. I've had plenty of conversations which end up with "I need my taxes lowered so I can give more to the poor" and "the government shouldn't be giving out money to the poor, that's the job of the church." Now I hear that position and I don't totally disagree with it, but I'd rather have the poor fed and housed regardless of who is doing it. Perhaps it would be nice to have both sides of the issue agree that the poor should be fed and housed now, then we figure out how to change the system later.
    It is time the Church Jesus Christ overcame the disjunctions created by the 16th-century Reformation. What is called for is the 'evangelical catholicism' of John Wesley's 'middle way' in which two historic traditions were synthesized. In this sythesis the English Reformer not only recovered for the Church a viable doctrine of holiness but also pointed the way to a scriptural view and practice of the sacraments that is both apostolic and catholic. ++William Greathouse

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    Senior Member Brandon Brown's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Politics has become the one sport all of America seems to embrace. This means that anyone who speaks against what my "team" believes is speaking against me personally. Therefore, I must fight with everything to keep my side on top. Can't lose that championship or my worth is less. Unfortunately, this attitude seems into everything and we cannot seem to discuss different viewpoints in an appropriate manner. No everyone is like this, but you get the gist.

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    Senior Member Doug Ward's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Obligatory disclaimer:

    Is the Spirit truly impotent in those areas? Is this a theological crisis? ...a credibility gap?
    Well, I do not think the Spirit is impotent, and yes we have a credibility gap. However, when we prematurely close off conversation, we do not allow the Spirit to lead, convict, and even shape conversation because we are too quick to shut it down and walk away. The real test is not whether there is conflict, but how we handle it, and are we able to learn from it. We do not allow that process to take place.
    On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.

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    Senior Member Cam Pence's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Obligatory disclaimer:
    This thread is not a political thread, nor is it an opportunity to second-guess closure of recent political threads. Those decisions were made, and the decisions stand as-is.

    This thread IS an exploration of the question of why mature people of faith seem to lose civility when the topic is politics.
    (end of disclaimer)

    Give it some thought. Are politics and faith in separate silos and never the two shall meet?

    As holiness people, we talk about sanctification with terms like 'entire'. What does it mean then if we live the law of love...except for political topics...or questions of race....or social justice...or economic policy...or healthcare?

    Is the Spirit truly impotent in those areas? Is this a theological crisis? ...a credibility gap?
    I think the theological crisis and credibility gap hold some water. Politically speaking, this stems from a strong commitment to either a political party or ideology (more the former than the latter) to point that it becomes the default for Jesus. This happens on both sides of the isle but the right really seems to advertise it (with the Moral Majority and its bigger, uglier cousin, the Tea Party) and come under fire for it recently (for the unwavering support for President Trump and his baggage). Still the issue is not really just Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but extreme partisanism. I honestly believe that Jim Webb and John Kasich could have gotten the nods from their respective parties (RINO vs. DINO ) and we would have still seen much of the same rhetoric. The truth is no one political party encapsulates the heart of the gospel because, despite the lip service, they don't give a rip about it outside getting votes. They do, however, line up by default sometimes. I can respect the Republican platform on abortion insofar as the child is viewed as a child more than a choice however they drastically drop the ball in supporting social programs and quality sex education which have been proven time and time again to reduce the amount of abortions but seems to only ever be pushed and supported by the left. The recent thread on healthcare and the debates over the Women's March and the Right to Life march are other prime examples. For me, the gospel should make us see people as people. People who should not potentially die because I don't want more taxes or, even worse, because I think the Church should do it when I know darn well we haven't and don't have the resources to anyways. This seems like a no-brainer to me. These are just a few examples but I think they show what I am getting at. I think as Christians we should fight for the rights and well-being of people and when that is the case, it's a shame when politics DON"T come into play as the political realm is where many of those important decisions are made.

    As far credibility goes, I'll point back to extreme partisanism again. Many Republicans (not all I'm sure) , during Bill Clintons sexual escapades and lying to the American people came down hard on him and those on the left (not all I'm sure) that were saying to "censure and move on" (and I believe rightfully so) but when our new president brags about sexual assault, there is no shortage of excuses. "He's not going to be our Pastor-in-Chief", "Every guy thinks that.", "It's just locker room talk". It's just more "censure and move on" and it obviously worked in both cases. Many Christians on the left and the right simply don't want consistent accountability more than they want to serve their parties. We won't call things out for what they are if they are coming from "our side". This becomes evident by the constant deflection of "but what about the other side?!" I'm not saying I don't believe that one side gets it more right than the other and I'm not saying that criticism should go tit for tat. I'm saying that following Jesus will necessarily put us in a position where to ignore the evil of "my side" for the sake of supporting "my side" or even worse, sticking it to "your side", is committing evil. While I hope that it is not uncivil, I should be called out for my political ideas when they get to that point.

    You can see why people have so much passion here. Sometimes that passion rules out fruitful conversation, but I don't suppose it has to. I just don't think that that passion and criticisms (from both sides) should automatically shut down a convo. Sometimes the convo needs to get long and painful to become.....well, sometimes more long and painful but also many some understanding can start to happen......maybe.
    Last edited by Cam Pence; March 14th, 2017 at 02:36 PM.
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    Senior Member Brandon Brown's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Hobbs View Post
    This is the big issue for me. Jesus tends to be privatized while American religion (read: National pride/capitalism/individual freedom/personal responsibility/etc) is a public matter.
    I guess our personalization and individualistic practice of Christianity outside of community leaves us needing an outlet for community faith and life. It is almost as if our embrace of empire has become so prevalent that empire has become community over the Church for even those of us who profess Christ. I'll be honest it took almost 20 years for the ideas in Resident Aliens (Willimon/Hauerwas) to sink in for me, but I finally understand that book. We are reaping in many ways what we have embraced. Politics is just that and in no way can give us worth or even comfort.
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Hobbs View Post
    This is the big issue for me. Jesus tends to be privatized while American religion (read: National pride/capitalism/individual freedom/personal responsibility/etc) is a public matter.

    Another big issue is the caring for the poor/needy and who gets to do it. Mind you not who should be doing it, but who should be allowed to do it. I've had plenty of conversations which end up with "I need my taxes lowered so I can give more to the poor" and "the government shouldn't be giving out money to the poor, that's the job of the church." Now I hear that position and I don't totally disagree with it, but I'd rather have the poor fed and housed regardless of who is doing it. Perhaps it would be nice to have both sides of the issue agree that the poor should be fed and housed now, then we figure out how to change the system later.
    Aside from particular questions about the poor...I think the following statement is true of many on NazNet, myself included:

    "I don't think of myself as a partisan, but some people whom I would describe as partisan respond to me as though I am also a partisan. Therefore, I must be a partisan."

    Many on NazNet think of themselves as non-partisan, objective observers squarely in the moderate happy-zone; seated above the fray and capable of assessing all points of view. I personally think that those people are self-deceived and blind...and we know how things go when blind people argue about the nature of reality (especially what an elephant is like).
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

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    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    I personally think that those people are self-deceived and blind...
    I get that a lot.
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    Senior Member Brandon Brown's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    ..think of themselves as non-partisan, objective observers squarely in the moderate happy-zone; seated above the fray and capable of assessing all points of view...
    We are all non-partisan until we encounter disagreement.
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    Senior Member Cam Pence's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Aside from particular questions about the poor...I think the following statement is true of many on NazNet, myself included:

    "I don't think of myself as a partisan, but some people whom I would describe as partisan respond to me as though I am also a partisan. Therefore, I must be a partisan."

    Many on NazNet think of themselves as non-partisan, objective observers squarely in the moderate happy-zone; seated above the fray and capable of assessing all points of view. I personally think that those people are self-deceived and blind...and we know how things go when blind people argue about the nature of reality (especially what an elephant is like).
    This is a good point. Its important to acknowledge our biases. Partisanism isn't necessarily a bad thing (or at least avoidable) but I think when it leads us to the point simply writing off and not seeking to at least understand completely, then we may have taken it too far.
    “So there are no nontheologians; there is just good theology and bad theology.”- Will Willimon
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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post

    This thread IS an exploration of the question of why mature people of faith seem to lose civility when the topic is politics.
    (end of disclaimer)
    Maybe one of the contributing factors is their being people of faith. They identify pretty strongly with the idea that they are guided and directed by a force stronger than themselves, outside of and greater than themselves - a 'divine, indwelling presence', if you will. In fact their goal is for the influence of that 'divine, indwelling'
    presence to become increasingly powerful.
    Unfortunately, sometimes they come to feel that their opinions regarding things political are divinely sanctioned. The belief that one's politics should be informed by one's faith, rather than the reverse is one thing. The belief that since one is a 'person of faith' their political views carry divine sanction is quite another. Ironically, sometimes amusingly, sometimes sadly, we see people embracing diametrically opposing points of view and both claiming that God is on their side.
    The people I know in law enforcement all agree that being called to a domestic dispute can be incredibly dangerous - things can go south in a hurry. Family feuds are notorious for their bitterness. And many of us have seen, hopefully from a distance, church fights that were incredibly bloody.
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Kevin Rector's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Part of the issue is stress and confirmation bias. People want to seek out those that agree with them - they read/watch the news they like, they surround themselves with people who mostly already agree with them, they minimize the shortcoming of "their" people. It helps to reduce stress. It is extremely stressful to engage different ideas or ideologies. The world is already stressful enough. So, even though it may seem counter-intuitive simply sticking to your guns in political discourse is often the least stressful course of action.
    God is really good.
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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    A friend of mine used to say that his father was 'often wrong but never in doubt. Talk about a stress reduction strategy.
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rector View Post
    Part of the issue is stress and confirmation bias. People want to seek out those that agree with them - they read/watch the news they like, they surround themselves with people who mostly already agree with them, they minimize the shortcoming of "their" people. It helps to reduce stress. It is extremely stressful to engage different ideas or ideologies. The world is already stressful enough. So, even though it may seem counter-intuitive simply sticking to your guns in political discourse is often the least stressful course of action.
    About the only way to move beyond confirmation bias is to take seriously those who disagree. Yes, there is stress in being confronted with an unacknowledged bias or having our blindspots reflected back to us in unflattering detail.

    I am frustrated when I hold up that mirror and the person responds by reporting me to a moderator. Really...is there any 'subtle' way to call someone on confirmation bias? For example, no tacit racist is ever going to own up to what is abundantly clear to everybody except other tacit racists.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis
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    Senior Member Brandon Brown's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    About the only way to move beyond confirmation bias is to take seriously those who disagree.
    This is proably the largest fault that we all at times show. We must learn, as Christians especially, to take those with whom we diagree politically, theologically, and even sociologically seriously. Most of us do not just grab an idea out of the ether; instead we reason out our beliefs and stands with seriousness. I find that when considering how I arrived at something helps me to disagree more gracefully with others. But I also like to argue just a little and always try to have true friends who believe very differently from myself. Knowing someone often makes it harder to turn that person into a devil. Of course it is also good to remember that it is almost impossible to reason someone out of a position which was not arrived at through reason.
    Last edited by Brandon Brown; March 15th, 2017 at 07:00 AM. Reason: spelling
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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Brown View Post
    Of course it is also good to remember that it is almost impossible to reason someone out of a position which was not arrived at through reason.
    I think this is the key. If only other people didn't believe such ridiculous stuff it would be a lot easier to be discuss politics without pointing out how ridiculous and irrational their conclusions are.

    Last edited by Marsha Lynn; March 15th, 2017 at 06:45 AM. Reason: Punctuation
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    Senior Member Benjamin Hobbs's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    About the only way to move beyond confirmation bias is to take seriously those who disagree. Yes, there is stress in being confronted with an unacknowledged bias or having our blindspots reflected back to us in unflattering detail.

    I am frustrated when I hold up that mirror and the person responds by reporting me to a moderator. Really...is there any 'subtle' way to call someone on confirmation bias? For example, no tacit racist is ever going to own up to what is abundantly clear to everybody except other tacit racists.
    You have to get them to recognize of their own will or at least think it was their idea.

    Blaise Pascal has a bit to say on this.

    "When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true."

    And

    "People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others."

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    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    One of my favorite TED Talks (and I cannot remember the speaker right now) develops this:

    "What does it feel like to be wrong?

    It feels like being right.
    You don't know you are wrong.

    When people disagree with us, we first believe they are ignorant - so we inform them of the truth.
    But when they don't change after we inform them, we then believe they are stupid.
    But when we look at their lives and realize they are not stupid - we only have two options left - either our own position must be questioned, or those who disagree with us are not ignorant, nor are they stupid - so they must be evil."
    "Fully embracing the Gospel, fully engaging the world"

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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Kevin Rector's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    About the only way to move beyond confirmation bias is to take seriously those who disagree. Yes, there is stress in being confronted with an unacknowledged bias or having our blindspots reflected back to us in unflattering detail.

    I am frustrated when I hold up that mirror and the person responds by reporting me to a moderator. Really...is there any 'subtle' way to call someone on confirmation bias? For example, no tacit racist is ever going to own up to what is abundantly clear to everybody except other tacit racists.
    But it's not just the confrontation of bias that is stressful. We're talking about the confrontation of core values. The old adage says to never talk about religion or politics in polite society. The reason behind the adage is because those conversations will get heated. They get heated because both of those topics especially speak into our core values as human beings. Having to confront why we hold our core values can be stressful for many different reasons:

    1. Our core values may not be held for reasonable reasons and we don't want to have to engage that.
    2. Our core values may not actually be virtuous even though they are advantageous to us and we don't want to have to engage that (or have that exposed).
    3. Our core values may not be internally consistent and as long as we don't have to think about them much it doesn't hurt our heads.
    4. Our core values may put us at odds with the larger society (or our local society).
    5. Our actual internal core values may not be in line with the façade core values we project to the larger world.
    6. We might have to change our core values and that might change who we are as a person which could lead to a existential crisis.

    etc.
    God is really good.

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    Senior Member Doug Ward's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    One of my favorite TED Talks (and I cannot remember the speaker right now) develops this:

    "What does it feel like to be wrong?

    It feels like being right.
    You don't know you are wrong.

    When people disagree with us, we first believe they are ignorant - so we inform them of the truth.
    But when they don't change after we inform them, we then believe they are stupid.
    But when we look at their lives and realize they are not stupid - we only have two options left - either our own position must be questioned, or those who disagree with us are not ignorant, nor are they stupid - so they must be evil."
    To be fair, there are other options. When they don't change after we have a discussion with them, they are still the same decent person we thought, they just have come to a different conclusion. OR, when they don't change, perhaps they are still a decent person, who has made a wrong, or misinformed conclusion. If they have, that is OK, because we have made wrong or misinformed conclusions as well about other things. In time, perhaps they will come around. Perhaps in time, I will come around on my things. Either way, we can disagree, even strenuously and still be friends.
    On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.
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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Ward View Post
    To be fair, there are other options. When they don't change after we have a discussion with them, they are still the same decent person we thought, they just have come to a different conclusion. OR, when they don't change, perhaps they are still a decent person, who has made a wrong, or misinformed conclusion. If they have, that is OK, because we have made wrong or misinformed conclusions as well about other things. In time, perhaps they will come around. Perhaps in time, I will come around on my things. Either way, we can disagree, even strenuously and still be friends.
    I disagree with this. (Are you okay with that?)
    Only the power of the Holy Spirit can get truth past the obvious.
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    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Ward View Post
    To be fair, there are other options. When they don't change after we have a discussion with them, they are still the same decent person we thought, they just have come to a different conclusion. OR, when they don't change, perhaps they are still a decent person, who has made a wrong, or misinformed conclusion. If they have, that is OK, because we have made wrong or misinformed conclusions as well about other things. In time, perhaps they will come around. Perhaps in time, I will come around on my things. Either way, we can disagree, even strenuously and still be friends.
    Doug - I agree, but your perspective requires us to give others the benefit of the doubt. That requires grace - and while it is always available to us, so often we reject it. As one senior adult who has lived a life confessing faith in the holiness tradition, said to me, "They are our enemies, and they are trying to destroy our way of life - and if you don't hate them, you are also my enemy."
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    Senior Member Greg Farra's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    Doug - I agree, but your perspective requires us to give others the benefit of the doubt. That requires grace - and while it is always available to us, so often we reject it. As one senior adult who has lived a life confessing faith in the holiness tradition, said to me, "They are our enemies, and they are trying to destroy our way of life - and if you don't hate them, you are also my enemy."
    Sadly, this is often the case, when nationalism is as important as faith to some.
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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    This is a topic that I've been interested in for a long time. Although recently it has become increasingly clear to me that the vast majority of people are not open to having their mind changed no matter how irrational their position. (This is itself an irrational position)

    There has been some research on this lately, some of it indicates that sometimes people actually harden their position when confronted with facts that refute their position. I read this not long ago but I haven't been able to track down the source. Here is a story about this and a book that is coming out that deals with it. Good read, but it may make you give up on trying to help people who hold onto irrational ideas.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...ange-our-minds

    Of course the more disturbing issues is that people in leadership positions actively work to persuade people of things that are not factual and attack facts that are contrary to their agenda.
    It is not enough to be right, you have to be like Jesus.

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    Host Fun & Prayer forums Gina Stevenson's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Ward View Post
    To be fair, there are other options. When they don't change after we have a discussion with them, they are still the same decent person we thought, they just have come to a different conclusion. OR, when they don't change, perhaps they are still a decent person, who has made a wrong, or misinformed conclusion. If they have, that is OK, because we have made wrong or misinformed conclusions as well about other things. In time, perhaps they will come around. Perhaps in time, I will come around on my things. Either way, we can disagree, even strenuously and still be friends.
    That's in some ideal world/universe, Doug.

    This discussion, which mentions how some come to the conclusion of another being evil, though they certainly may not be, has reminded me of someone I know/knew (haven't seen in years now) whose conversations I sometimes got more than a bit weary of when they were constantly referring to different people as "evil." Sometimes may have been so, but I could not seem to get through to them that some of them were not; they were just "different." And if someone might have done something in ignorance, with no bad intent, their motives/intentions were often doubted by this person, as well.

    ETA: Oh my goodness! Doug's post was the last I saw before posting. But by the time I was done writing my post, it appears several others were already writing at the same time! Apparently a nerve has been struck! (so carry on)
    Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. ~ Stella Adler
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    Doug - I agree, but your perspective requires us to give others the benefit of the doubt. That requires grace - and while it is always available to us, so often we reject it. As one senior adult who has lived a life confessing faith in the holiness tradition, said to me, "They are our enemies, and they are trying to destroy our way of life - and if you don't hate them, you are also my enemy."
    Perhaps it is easier to start as friends, find out later that we disagree, and then remain friends despite the disagreement. If we start with our disagreement, the chances are slim that we will become friends to start with.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

  27. #27
    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kennedy View Post
    Maybe one of the contributing factors is their being people of faith.
    I think there is something to this. Religious reasoning draws on dogma - unchanging, unquestioned facts. While it's true that non-religious people are capable of being dogmatic about political positions, religious people are already accustomed to thinking in terms of dogma, so they are more susceptible to applying dogmatic thinking to politics as well.

    On top of that, when irreligious people disagree on politics they can more easily agree to disagree, saying "we disagree but we're still Americans" (or whatever), but when religious people disagree on politics, they are more apt to conclude that the other is not an authentic Christian - which breaks fellowship.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

  28. #28
    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Perhaps it is easier to start as friends, find out later that we disagree, and then remain friends despite the disagreement. If we start with our disagreement, the chances are slim that we will become friends to start with.
    Another TED talk, from someone we would all agree was wrong, and shares the story of how she was changed by grace.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/megan_phelp...e_s_why_i_left
    "Fully embracing the Gospel, fully engaging the world"
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    Senior Member Brandon Brown's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    So, it seems we can discuss why we can't discuss politics in a civil manner in a civil manner.
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  30. #30
    Senior Member Glenn Messer's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Confronting biases. The real problem is that we are all too quick to assign biases to those who disagree with us. We do so by using labels such as 'systemic bias'. If you think a certain way, belong to a certain ethnic or racial group, work in a certain industry, fall into a certain economic status, believe certain lifestyles and practices to be sinful, .... then you are guilty of 'systemic bias' of some sort. Billy used the term "tacit racist". I haven't bothered to look it up so I'm not sure I know what it means, but is it something that would be applied to someone who you believe to be racist, but who does not themselves believe they are racist? The assignment of such labels, however much they are validated by academia, creates a divide that cannot be bridged. Once you label me it never goes away.

    When doing premarriage counseling, I take some time to talk about how to argue. There will be times when a couple disagrees. How they handle those times can make a huge difference in the success of their marriage. One thing I stress is that, no matter how you feel, you never call your spouse names; not even 'ignorant' or 'stupid'. I don't care how many times you apologize or say, "I didn't mean it.", your spouse may forgive but they will not forget. The next time you have a disagreement, in the back of their mind, they will be thinking, "I know. You think I'm stupid."

    When we assign biases, even systemic biases, you have built an invisible wall that is nearly impossible to tear down. You can't convince me that I am wrong because you have already told me that you hold me in low esteem. Why would you be surprised that I am prepared to argue with you rather than listen to you?
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  31. #31
    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn Messer View Post
    Billy used the term "tacit racist". I haven't bothered to look it up so I'm not sure I know what it means, but is it something that would be applied to someone who you believe to be racist, but who does not themselves believe they are racist?
    The term 'tacit' simply refers to an unspoken reality. It is well-described by Chris Rock in this quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Rock
    Is Hollywood racist? ... Is it burning-cross racist? No. Is it fetch-me-some-lemonade racist? No ... It’s a different type of racist ... Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, “We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.” That’s how Hollywood is.
    Let's say that I am a hiring manager, there are 2 equally qualified candidates, one white and one black. I hire the white candidate, citing a better fit with company culture. If the black candidate sues for discrimination, they have virtually zero chance of prevailing unless someone in the hiring process was dumb and mentioned race. I might not feel any animus toward black people, but unless the black candidate is clearly *more* qualified than the white candidates, tacit racism will lead me to hire the white candidate...every. time.

    Tacit racism is easily perceived but is very difficult to prove and virtually impossible to confront/counteract.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

  32. #32
    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    One of my favorite TED Talks (and I cannot remember the speaker right now) develops this:

    "What does it feel like to be wrong?

    It feels like being right.
    You don't know you are wrong.

    When people disagree with us, we first believe they are ignorant - so we inform them of the truth.
    But when they don't change after we inform them, we then believe they are stupid.
    But when we look at their lives and realize they are not stupid - we only have two options left - either our own position must be questioned, or those who disagree with us are not ignorant, nor are they stupid - so they must be evil."
    Is this it? https://www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong
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  33. #33
    Host CE and Gen. Disc. forums David Parker's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Obligatory disclaimer:
    This thread is not a political thread, nor is it an opportunity to second-guess closure of recent political threads. Those decisions were made, and the decisions stand as-is.

    This thread IS an exploration of the question of why mature people of faith seem to lose civility when the topic is politics.
    (end of disclaimer)

    Give it some thought. Are politics and faith in separate silos and never the two shall meet?

    As holiness people, we talk about sanctification with terms like 'entire'. What does it mean then if we live the law of love...except for political topics...or questions of race....or social justice...or economic policy...or healthcare?

    Is the Spirit truly impotent in those areas? Is this a theological crisis? ...a credibility gap?
    Great post, Billy.

    It is a dymanic that has bothered me for years, especially on this forum. I believe Mike hit the nail on the head with his reference to grace.

    When participants 'assign bias' or accuse another of not understanding the Gospel or denying Christ due to their political/social/economics/policy positions, the conversation is over. The solution is simple, yet terribly hard to live out in real life. Speak for yourself and don't attempt to tell others what they think or believe or assign motivations. Ask questions, don't assertively demand you have their answers. Inferring that your positions are 'enlightened' or God-informed, and that 'they' are ignorant hayseeds without the required elevation of understanding instantly ends any discussion.

    For those of us that believe that 'they' have blind spots, for which we somehow need to provide the needed revelation, equally intelligent and spiritually mature believers on the other side believe the same about us. As long as that is our focus, we aren't discussing or having fellowship, we are only acting in belligerence. It may be religiously motivated, but it is still belligerence. We love to talk a great deal about love, but if we can't apply it and live it here, then our talk of love isn't worth much.

    For me, a grace infused discussion begins with listening carefully to those of differing opinions. Followed by asking sincere questions, if needed, and ending with speaking for themselves about how they approach the subject, and why. The most important part of a grace dominated conversation begins with terms like "For me..." or "In my opinion..." or "In my experience" and then only speak for yourself, not them. Next would be to extend respect to those whose opinions and life experiences are different than yours.

    Just my sincere thoughts after years of watching this dynamic up close.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may." ~ John Wesley

  34. #34
    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Parker View Post
    Great post, Billy.

    It is a dymanic that has bothered me for years, especially on this forum. I believe Mike hit the nail on the head with his reference to grace.

    When participants 'assign bias' or accuse another of not understanding the Gospel or denying Christ due to their political/social/economics/policy positions, the conversation is over. The solution is simple, yet terribly hard to live out in real life. Speak for yourself and don't attempt to tell others what they think or believe or assign motivations. Ask questions, don't assertively demand you have their answers. Inferring that your positions are 'enlightened' or God-informed, and that 'they' are ignorant hayseeds without the required elevation of understanding instantly ends any discussion.

    For those of us that believe that 'they' have blind spots, for which we somehow need to provide the needed revelation, equally intelligent and spiritually mature believers on the other side believe the same about us. As long as that is our focus, we aren't discussing or having fellowship, we are only acting in belligerence. It may be religiously motivated, but it is still belligerence. We love to talk a great deal about love, but if we can't apply it and live it here, then our talk of love isn't worth much.

    For me, a grace infused discussion begins with listening carefully to those of differing opinions. Followed by asking sincere questions, if needed, and ending with speaking for themselves about how they approach the subject, and why. The most important part of a grace dominated conversation begins with terms like "For me..." or "In my opinion..." or "In my experience" and then only speak for yourself, not them. Next would be to extend respect to those whose opinions and life experiences are different than yours.

    Just my sincere thoughts after years of watching this dynamic up close.
    And that is why we no longer have a politics forum here. Which is fine with me, although I did enjoy it before it went into hiding and then went dark altogether.

    Glenn brought out a lot of what I've been thinking when he talked of those who assign bias or label. Billy touched upon it when he talked about taking the other person seriously, then he talked about holding up a mirror and all the good will evaporated.

    As I read this thread, my mind kept going back to a post that my niece posted on her facebook page. I don't know if she wrote this herself or not, but as I read it over a bunch of times, I connected with it. And after careful thought, I can honestly say that each and every line has happened to me right here on naznet, and is probably why I've little interest in talking about politics anymore. If I've been guilty of any of these I'm truly sorry. But I still have to say, if we can't talk civilly about politics, and we have proven that we can't, then lets not talk about politics. Problem solved.

    Especially considering for those enamored with the thought that we are resident aliens, there should be no desire.

    How did this happen you ask?
    You created "us" when you attacked our freedom of speech.
    You created "us" when you attacked our right to bear arms.
    You created "us" when you attacked our Christian beliefs.
    You created "us" when you constantly referred to us as racists.
    You created "us" when you constantly called us xenophobic.
    You created "us" when you told us to get on board or get out of the way.
    You created "us" when you forced us to buy health care and then financially penalized us for not participating.
    You created "us" when you allowed our jobs to continue to leave our country.
    You created "us" when you attacked our flag.
    You created "us" when you confused women's rights with feminism.
    You created "us" when you began to immasculate men.
    You created "us" when you decided to make our children soft.
    You created "us" when you attacked our way of life.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor

  35. #35
    Senior Member Benjamin Hobbs's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chabot View Post
    And that is why we no longer have a politics forum here. Which is fine with me, although I did enjoy it before it went into hiding and then went dark altogether.

    Glenn brought out a lot of what I've been thinking when he talked of those who assign bias or label. Billy touched upon it when he talked about taking the other person seriously, then he talked about holding up a mirror and all the good will evaporated.

    As I read this thread, my mind kept going back to a post that my niece posted on her facebook page. I don't know if she wrote this herself or not, but as I read it over a bunch of times, I connected with it. And after careful thought, I can honestly say that each and every line has happened to me right here on naznet, and is probably why I've little interest in talking about politics anymore. If I've been guilty of any of these I'm truly sorry. But I still have to say, if we can't talk civilly about politics, and we have proven that we can't, then lets not talk about politics. Problem solved.

    Especially considering for those enamored with the thought that we are resident aliens, there should be no desire.
    Your niece did not pen that right-leaning bit. And I'd suggest that "those" persons were not created recently, they've just been found to be losing ground.
    It is time the Church Jesus Christ overcame the disjunctions created by the 16th-century Reformation. What is called for is the 'evangelical catholicism' of John Wesley's 'middle way' in which two historic traditions were synthesized. In this sythesis the English Reformer not only recovered for the Church a viable doctrine of holiness but also pointed the way to a scriptural view and practice of the sacraments that is both apostolic and catholic. ++William Greathouse
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    Senior Member Jim Franklin's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    If one is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ and believes the scriptures about holy and moral living then when politicians, government office holders and bureaucrats advocate unholy and immoral life styles it is pretty hard to suddenly become dispassionate. Christ himself said, "be angry and do not sin." As long as the discussion is about issues and not personalities it is possible to a certain degree.

    In my American Government panel debates at SNU on issues that my students might face at a voting booth I saw both civil discourse and passionate "stand your ground" expressions.

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Franklin View Post
    If one is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ and believes the scriptures about holy and moral living then when politicians, government office holders and bureaucrats advocate unholy and immoral life styles it is pretty hard to suddenly become dispassionate.
    My guess is that this is coming from the conservative direction. For Christians coming from the liberal/progressive direction, they'd say much the same, with some slight changes (in bold):

    If one is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ and believes the scriptures about the supreme importance of love for God and neighbor then when politicians, government office holders and bureaucrats advocate perspectives and policies that actively harm our neighbors it is pretty hard to suddenly become dispassionate.
    To be fair, Christians on either side of the political divide could (and do) say this same thing, just focusing on different neighbors. While one focuses on unborn children in danger of being aborted, the other focuses on underprivileged born children in danger of starving. Etc.

    But yes, I agree with you and the others who have said it: our faith adds fuel to the fire of passionate political discourse. Ideally, it also helps us to "be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry," to love our enemies, etc.
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  38. #38
    Senior Member Tim Troxler's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Because you're wrong, and I like to hear myself talk.
    "Neither holiness nor love is Christian without the other...Love without holiness disintegrates into sentimentality. Personal integrity is lost. But holiness without love is not holiness at all. In spite of its label, it displays harshness, judgmentalism, a critical spirit, and all its capacity for discrimination ends in nitpicking and divisiveness." - MBW
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    Senior Member Greg Crofford's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    Of course the more disturbing issues is that people in leadership positions actively work to persuade people of things that are not factual and attack facts that are contrary to their agenda.
    Can we put a moratorium on the word "agenda"? It has become one of those nefarious words. Pretty soon, we won't even be able to use it in reference to a Board meeting!
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  40. #40
    Senior Member Greg Crofford's Avatar

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    Re: Why can't we discuss politics in a civil manner?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    On top of that, when irreligious people disagree on politics they can more easily agree to disagree, saying "we disagree but we're still Americans" (or whatever), but when religious people disagree on politics, they are more apt to conclude that the other is not an authentic Christian - which breaks fellowship.
    This is very insightful. I have a longterm friend who nearly unfriended me on FB simply because I was drawing a few conclusions on the question of refugees and immigration by quoting some Bible verses often overlooked but (in my view) right on-point. I'm not one to do theology solely based on the number of times a topic appears in Scripture, but I do find it ironic that we are very quick to cite a half dozen Bible verses re. homosexual practices but suddenly go mute on justice when the Bible (Old and New Testaments) has far more to say on the latter topic than the former. I think this is why John Wesley insisted on the concept of the "whole tenor of Scritpure." It's the only way we'll get past our interpretive myopia.
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