Fair Minded Words Kept in the Family
One more word (promises, promises) on Sen. Obama’s speech last week. Or, rather, a word on what has come since. The blogosphere has seen a number of spirited exchanges on the virtues or failings of the Senator’s remarks. There have been reasoned and intelligent statements both for and against the Senator’s general argument. There have also been a number of harsh, unfairminded attacks from blog commentors. There’s no doubt that passions run high around issues of faith in politics, but precisely because the stakes are so high it’s important that the tone of these disagreements be on pitch.
It wasn’t an accident that Sen. Obama ended his address with a call for ‘fair-minded words.’ Surely he knew that his words would spark controversy on both the left and right. It may be a potential weakness of the blogosphere that the relative anonymity of the space allows for ad hominem attacks without the practical risks of doing so in person or the mainstream media (ie personal retribution, or a good ole’ fashioned knuckle sandwich). Because the task of honest, fair engagement is so difficult, and because part of our mission at Faith in Public Life is to broker those sorts of discussions both in the blogosphere and in the more concrete world, it seems appropriate to give hat tips to those who have done well with their criticism.
So in the spirit of encouraging those who know how to strongly disagree with each other, but in the right way, check out a few of these exchanges. Mik Moore over at Jspot, Pastor Dan at Street Prophets, Chuck Currie, and the Talk2Action crowd all have different takes on the matter at hand. But things don’t get personal, and you know that all involved (and I think Sen. Obama is included in this group) are seeking, to borrow Dan’s words, ‘the line from doubt to the need to humility to the need to come together.’ Bruce Wilson also left a strong but fair comment over on Alex’s last post. Those who fail to meet these standards of discourse get no particular calling out, because they don’t deserve any more attention.
I honestly believe that there’s something very out of touch with how the American people view religion in the divisive rhetoric of the Religious Right. A robust internal debate about the place of religion in progressive politics can be a great sign of strength rather than division, if that debate takes place within a context of shared common good goals, fairminded words, and the American democracy that we all treasure. I’d love to see some of these voices that know how to argue the right way model that for the blogosphere. What fertile ground to be tilling the week before so many of us are getting together for the Blog Con.