Deep in our hearts we know that if we’re going to ever “live out the true meaning of our creed, that all men are created equal” it will be something that happens between us day to day – in the places we live, in the lives we lead, in the actions we take and the decisions we make – large and small. Yet still we reliably turn toward our television sets and social media when the worst happens, where we know our resentments will be stroked and our fury stoked. Imagine if in times of crisis, instead of separating, we gathered? Who might we be then?
In the wake of the gut-wrenching events of the 2016 election cycle, Stephen Colbert offered up this: “A nation is not its politics… a nation is as the relationships between its people.” If we don’t have those relationships right here, right now, that’s on us.
We cannot stay disconnected to each other until a time of deep community crisis forces up to confront our distance. A more divided people are vulnerable. As America grows closer to being a majority minority country, communities that thrive will be the ones that build institutions incorporating this diversity dynamically into the fabric of everyday community life – it should simply become how we roll. In times of turmoil, we turn toward each other – in the glorious diversity of race, religion and opinion we find in the human race. It’s our Local Color.
In the opening number of the Broadway musical “Hamilton”, Lin-Manuel Miranda belts out “and there’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait, just you wait…” American democracy bequeathed to us was as a draft version, and the founders left us the mechanisms for revisions. We have that power right here and now in this place we share. Forget Washington. If we don’t iterate, it’s on us.
We imagine a public space where we come to really know each other, where we look unflinchingly at what divides us as we revel in what unites us – sort of an old-fashioned civic barnraising of sorts. We imagine an idea-generating, deeply real (possibly even joyful) Hamilton-inspired Technicolor town hall. We’re deep believers this American community is up to the challenge. We think we can teach the world a thing or two.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where’s the balance between personal freedom (e.g., to smoke cigarettes, drink 60 oz. sodas, drive without a seatbelt) and the government’s role in ensuring the wellbeing of its citizens? And who is responsible for the consequences of that freedom? And while we’re on these easy topics, is health care is a right of citizenship?
After a tragedy, people will say that those affected are in their “thoughts and prayers.” In the digital age, we promote social media awareness through a hashtag (e.g., #prayforparis). How can we genuinely express our faith, especially through public prayer, even in a religiously diverse setting?
From “safe spaces” to “trigger warnings” – in light of the freedom of speech, how can a diverse society function if we’re insulated from being confronted with opposing viewpoints, even if they seem mean-spirited? We’ll dive into recent examples of violent protests on campuses in opposition to invited speakers, most of whom were conservative.
In honor of Groundhog Day, we’re repeating last month’s topic! As bad manners and ill-tempers replace conversations of substance and charges of “hate speech” sprout like crabgrass on an un-mowed lawn, we seem to be in a societal-wide spitting match about just who is the most tediously offended.
Shortly before his assassination, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King offered us this stark warning on race: “Together we must learn to live together as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.” Tragically, over half a century later, race in America is arguably a more divisive topic than in most of our memories.
The landscape of sexuality has changed so rapidly that we as faith leaders are each being faced with previously unforeseen dilemmas, especially as gender is being regarded as fluid rather than biologically grounded and dichotomous. How do we respond to our society’s ever-changing sexual norms?
It’s almost as if the Washington political class knew our fall launch God Squad topic, since the din of media polarization has never been on more full display than it’s been this last summer. We seem to be living in two parallel universes without a common understanding of anything – no wonder there’s a problem. Past time to call in the God Squad!
In this polarized environment, are we allowing our commitment to our political ideology overrule our professed commitment to certain faith-based moral convictions? If forced to choose, do we side with our political tribe and rationalize away any moral conflicts that might create?
Atomization. We live in an age when we can summon up a personally tailored life experience with the touch of a button. We’re so programmed to receive instant gratification that the complexities and compromise of building community wear quickly.
Life or Death? Faith and the Death Penalty This is a hard conversation, one with wide differences of opinion, but also one we’ve almost just given up on ever managing to agree on. So this season we’re having difficult, unflinching conversation The God Squad specializes in.
Is Islam compatible with Western democracy? With the concerning escalation of rhetoric amid calls to stop Muslims from immigrating, we’ll have this conversation across faiths and with our Muslim friends, as usual. Joining us is special guest Dr. Parvez Ahmed.
Freedom of Conscience It’s likely that there truly is no freedom more dear to Americans and more central to our national character than our freedom of conscience. But in the era where we seek agreement and approval, it rankles us when others don’t hold our same values and don’t hew to our personal moral compass. […]
Exit the Echo Chamber: Fake News, Filter Bubbles and Faith Summer is right around the corner and we know you have plans – fishing, sunbathing, a summer read or two? Whatever you’re up to, we say you add just one more to-do: “Save the planet by escaping the echo chamber.” Doable.
Hope. We figured we’d take the opportunity – before we know any election results – to find reasons for real hope. Who better than the God Squad to give us a reason to feel a little better – whichever side of the aisle you’re about to fill in the bubble for on Tuesday.
Something seems different about the political anger right now – it seems to have escalated to a point where it feels that we’re actually in danger of losing our moorings. It feels like the ties that bind us are disintegrating in ways that feel unfamiliar and dangerous.
This summer’s shooting in Orlando re-ignited the swirl of issues that make up our ongoing civic tornado. But it also seemed to also bring with it a more complex subtext as culture war issues collided so uniquely in the tragedy and its aftermath.