Political civility is not about being polite to each other. It's about reclaiming the power of "We the People" to come together, debate the common good and call American democracy back to its highest values amid our differences.
As a future rabbi, I am struggling to find my voice in the online din that reverberates in ways previously unseen (or unheard). I am not only dealing with a new medium, but also a new and increasingly essential strand of thought: interfaith collaboration.
Unlike some political options taken to address the poor treatment of minority groups, hospitality refuses the fantasy of neutral ground and instead emphasizes how friend, stranger and enemy can hold things in common even in contested spaces.
As a liberal, progressive minister in Brooklyn, I receive frequent requests to officiate weddings of couples who want to be married by a religious leader, but who don't want to have a particular tradition's stamp pressed too deeply upon their hour of celebration.
Every major faith has a set of values grounded in the pursuit of justice and equity. This universalism is important. It creates the potential for far-reaching, welcoming movements that cut across boundaries of race, class, sect and nationality.
Having been in the back-patting position often enough myself, I propose that what works most effectively is interfaith dialogue that is not initiated for the sake of public consumption. It is spontaneous, unrehearsed and often completely unexpected.
Honestly, I hate the term "common ground." It just sounds boring. But all of my shaking and wagging has only ever succeeded in ending conversations, and sending people running in the opposite direction.
As soon as I was in the cab, I noticed that pretty much every surface of the car's interior was covered with a JESUS LOVES YOU sticker. This wasn't just a cab, it was a rolling cathedral! Part of me thought I should just jump out of the car.
"In this electoral year tensions are particularly high. Polarities are strong. Many people think that the future of our country ... is at stake," Miroslav Volf says. "Honoring everyone contains the promise of possibility."
This conflict is really about the role that faith will play in America. It is about whether or not we will accept Muslim Americans as true Americans or as second-class citizens. It is a test of our character, and we dare not fail it.
Despite sincere efforts by some in Congress, that body as a whole has failed meaningfully to act on climate change. But the point was not so much to condemn the inaction but to urge Congress to work rapidly to raise its grade.
I don't know how, but people say this all the time: "He cannot go to heaven because he does not believe in [insert your Prophet or God's name here]." Frankly, I would have checked out of my faith if it took such a position. Thank God (or Allah) that it doesn't.
Change won't happen overnight but nothing happens if we don't do anything. By building their houses of worship together, the congregants of the tri-faith group are making a long-term commitment to each other.