Current Conversation: Reforming Political Discourse


A Pause in the Conversation

Due to a death in the family of one of our conversation partners, the November conversation will not be able to continue beyond the November 1 postings.

Please return to our ten-month series on December 1 when Jim Skillen and Harry Boyte will present contrasting views on the “goals” of politics; the ideal characteristics of a well-functioning political system; and the extent to which our current political system in America is, or is not, measuring up to these ideals and Christian values.

Harold Heie


Topic #3: Are There Limits to Free Speech and Civil Discourse? (November 2017)

Leading Questions: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed Christian perspective on political discourse (Subtopic 2)? Are there ideas so repugnant and dangerous that they shouldn’t be allowed to be uttered in public? What is wrong, if anything, with passionate speech? Are there limits to civility? Is the call for civility a means of control by those in power? Is the call for civility a means to marginalize those “who have no voice?”  

Conversation Partners: 

Topic #1: Talking Past Each Other or Worse (September 2017)

In preparation for a conversation about the possibility of a “Christian Approach to Political Discourse” (subtopic A2), we will first analyze the current dismal state of political discourse, as illustrated by the reactions of two conversation partners to two reports (presented below) on a recent political news story: One report from a left-leaning commentator and one report from a right-leaning commentator.

Leading Question: What are the goals of these reports? What audiences are they appealing to? What rhetorical tools are being employed? What do you find to be helpful in these reports? What do you criticize in these reports?



Topic #2: A Proposed Christian Approach to Political Discourse (October 2017)

Leading Questions:  What are the reasons for the current appalling state of political discourse that often leads to demonization of the other, name-calling, questioning of motives and broken relationships? What are the characteristics of a constructive political discourse from a Christian perspective? What does it mean for Christians to love their enemies in politics?

Conversation Partners: