On Civility, Faith, Politics and Government

2 November 2006

I voted yesterday. My selections of candidates were based upon whether or not I thought they understood the most important issues facing city, state and nation. In my view there are very few priorities that rank higher than the security of our nation and our families. There are plenty of other important matters.

Our stands on so many issues simply cannot rise to the level of importance of seeing our nation continue. Clearly, in a time of peace, those other matters are vital issues to debate. In a time of threat, I sense a need to focus on survival. Perhaps you disagree and will make different choices when you vote to fill state and federal positions.

One of the great mudpuddles in the national debate has seen all of us splashing around, getting each other really muddy, but with little real result. It’s often described in weighty terms by those who lead with a constitutional argument. Others lead with a concept of personal belief that involves some degree of hell-fire and brimstone. Another group seems to think examples set for us are more important than rules that were set in stone. Still others believe we are entirely self-sufficient, entirely capable of making wise and moral decisions apart from a God they say doesn’t exist.

Again, we return to priorities. What do we emphasize? How does one respond when attacked — either physically or intellectually? Once we determine what we believe, how does it relate to our government? Should faith guide someone we elect? Does one who lives a life of faith inherently make decisions that run counter to the First Amendment? Can a person who believes there is no God make consistently moral decisions?

Too often we get testy when these questions are pressed or debated at length. I voted for candidates that probably don’t have a good handle on the answers to every one of these questions. Your candidates aren’t likely to have them all down cold either! However, I voted for people that impressed me as being a bit better prepared to deal with each of these debates and the many more questions which we’re going to face in the coming years.

To get one set of perspectives on how this might play out in civil discourse, I encourage interested readers to watch the dialog going on between David Kuo, author of Tempting Faith and Andrew Sullivan, author of The Conservative Soul.

Here’s the sequence of the conversation thus far:

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