Civil Public Discourse

Image by Gerd Altman, CC0 (Public Domain)
Image by Gerd Altman, CC0 (Public Domain)

Deuteronomy 14:28-29     28 Every third year you must bring the tenth part of your produce from that year and leave it at your city gates. 29 Then the Levites, who have no designated inheritance like you do, along with the immigrants, orphans, and widows who live in your cities, will come and feast until they are full. Do this so that the Lord your God might bless you in everything you do. (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

I just finished reading An Other Kingdom (Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann, and John McKnight; Wiley, 2016). The authors suggest neighborliness as an alternative (or antidote) to the consumer culture that supports empire.

Neighborliness is the opportunity to be aware every day that we are performing an alternate liturgy. … A liturgy of aliveness. A liturgy in favor of the common good.” (page 77)

While reading, I found myself asking “What can I do?” The authors suggest three disciplines of neighborliness: time, food, and silence.

Time: The authors suggest “re-thinking time.” Since retirement and my wife’s death, time has become an open opportunity for me. I spend a lot of time reading, discussing, sharing, raising thoughtful questions, teaching. Time has become an ally, rather than a controller.

Food: Recently my doctor told me that I was pre-diabetic and that I needed to eat a low carb diet, no desserts, exercise, and lose weight. The authors have challenged me to eat foods that are grown locally (“foods that rot”) rather than prepared foods that have a long shelf life or fast foods. I am beginning actively to make changes.

Silence: The authors write, “Listening [the ‘fellow-traveler’ of silence] puts you in a receptive mode.” This is not a difficult discipline for me personally – monthly retreats with a group of friends; quarterly visit to a monastery of Benedictine sisters. I am concerned, however, about the lack of listening in the current political climate in our country. Therefore, today I added my name to join Rev. Dr. William Barber II, Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, and Sr. Simone Campbell in calling candidates for office to claim the higher ground in public debate – standing against the divide-and-conquer strategies of extremists, disavowing every attempt to promote hatred and/or the marginalization of any member of the human family, and restoring civil discourse in public debate:

We declare that the deepest public concerns of our nation and faith traditions are how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.

Together, we lift up and defend the most sacred moral principles of our faith and constitutional values, which are: the economic liberation of all people; ensuring every child receives access to quality education; healthcare access for all; criminal justice reform; and ensuring historically marginalized communities have equal protection under the law.

Interested in more about the call for a Moral Agenda? Check their website.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email