thoughts about faith, politics and communication

On My Mind

I’m trying to jump-start my brain this morning, but either someone put decaf in the wrong pot or I need to look for a brand with a higher wattage definition of the word “robust.”

It reminds me of  how important it is that the definitions we attach to words and ideas have some degree of consistency. Because if my idea of “strong” coffee means one thing and your is something else then one of us is always going to be disappointed when we get together to share a cup.

Effective communication is dependent on such clarity. However, in our media saturated world, where ideas can be articulated and then disseminated globally in a matter of seconds, we seem to be farther apart from understanding one-another than ever before.

POLITICS: This is a serious problem in politics, where “Candidate A” will often define a word or idea in such a way that, when “Candidate B” uses it, a distorted layer of meaning is added.

It’s not subtle at all, and it’s often carefully calculated. For example, I sometimes hear the idea of “I love America” presented in ways that are so politically loaded that the moment someone from the other party opens their mouth they can immediately be labelled “un-American!”

It’s like trying to measure a distance in feet by using a ruler that’s actually 10.5 inches long. That’s crazy. Everyone should work from the same idea when it comes to what “one foot” actually means.

But in politics (and very much during this 2012 race) no-one appears to be genuinely interested in honest communication.

FAITH: I’m also very much involved in some important conversations about faith this week. What, as an example, do these words and ideas mean to you?

  • Christian?
  • Witness
  • Worship?
  • Faith?
  • Salvation?
  • Grow in faith?
  • Joy?
  • Discipleship?
  • Relevancy?
  • Being a Church?

These are just a few of the words that people who attend church use as part of their faith-based lexicon. Yet, if we put any group of “Christians” in a room together to talk about these critically important ideas, then we’d uncover wide variations as how these concepts are defined.

And I wonder, when we have conversations about our particular faith community, and when we’re talking about what needs to happen for us to be able to move forward… how well are we really communicating?

AGREEMENT: Here’s what I believe. The bottom line in both faith and politics is not that we agree so much as that we understand one-another, that we learn to listen without judgment, and that we communicate with open spirits.

Most of the time, and when we are open and honest with one-another, we’re going to discover that we really are in agreement when it comes to what is most important.

  • What’s important in matters of faith is that we love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul, that we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, and that we live as intentional disciples who follow The Way of Jesus.
  • And what’s most important in matters of politics is that we love this country, that we love our neighbor as much as ourselves, and that we live both in gratitude and with a sense of responsibility for this great land of opportunity.

GET OVER IT: But, in order for that to happen, we have to get over ourselves, get over our incessant need to be right, and then heed these words of Jesus:

 “What is written in the Law?” the man replied. “How do you read it?”

Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Amen, and amen – DEREK

8 thoughts on “thoughts about faith, politics and communication

  1. This great land of opportunity gets smaller and small every year. Our current administration is the most tragic joke ever perpetrated on the American people. Beware, for there will be less and less opportunity until there only Have’s and Have-nots. Before long, before we know it, if you are born into the Have-not’s your only “opportunity” will be but to serve the Haves.
    Politics are too far gone for religion to ever save. Did you read where a VA senator says that the Virginians are racist because of Obama’s low poll ratings. Obama carried Virginia in 2008 by 6%. Could it possibly be that he’s a terrible president no-matter what his race?

  2. Hi, Tim. I think you may have missed the point of Derek’s post today. While there is certainly nothing wrong with your disapproval of our nation’s political leadership, I don’t think that calling the current administration a tragic joke and referring to our current president as terrible does a lot to promote constructive, positive communication that leads to genuine conflict resolution. I believe this blog post is meant to foster constructive dialogue in both politics and the church and those assertions do not fall under that umbrella.

    • Sorry that was not nice…but really…do you think anything we can write in constructive dialog here is gonna change anything political?

      I took Derek’s generalized comments and made a specific point completely in context with the general topics set forth. Dialog; point-counter point…Not just folks agreeing on a great post. That’s not the kind of dialog you mean, is it?

      • Hi, Tim. Yes. I absolutely believe that we, right here and now, can change the national dialogue out there for the better. Change only happens when people commit to making that change. So, if everyone who reads this blog post makes a decision to approach disagreement and discord with open hearts and minds, using language that is constructive rather than destructive, we can begin to alter the context of political (and religious) debates. A dialogue that focuses on compromise would provide more opportunity for conflict resolution rather than a continuation of the blame game, and the change starts with individuals refusing to get sucked into the game by demanding an environment of understanding.

  3. Three things…
    1- get a copy of Andra Moran’s new CD, ‘Harmony Grove’

    2- listen to track 3, ‘On the Side of Love'; concentrate on the lyrics

    3- then, after you’ve listened to the track, stop the CD and go somewhere nice and quiet, think about the words and listen…or better yet…make your self open and discern; there…that’s a better word than ‘listen’.

    Peace Derek!
    -Ray

  4. Harmony Grove was a great listen! I enjoyed it, and the message.
    Donna: You are right. This post had nothing to do with who is right and who is a tragic joke… and everything to do with learning to listen to one-another – deliberately, intelligently and with respect. Same thing both in faith and politics.
    All of us – especially me – have more to learn from one another, and everything to gain from clarity….

  5. I did listen. I listened to Obama say that people are not responsible for their own hard work, that they owe the government….yeah i listen. When you write in generalities, when some uses those generalities to pull a specific point out it it…nevermind…I thought somebody said something about intelligent dialog…

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