Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Popcorn and Social Change

The long-suffering spouse is back in Minneapolis, thinking mathematical thoughts. We renewed our wedding vows on Sunday (much gratitude to Mike at Musing's Musings for singing at the ceremony.), so I suppose we're hooked for another 25-years. And last night I drowned my sorrow at his leaving by watching a movie and knitting.

The movie actually had redeeming social value (as opposed to, say, The Princess Bride, which I also considered...), so I didn't feel like I was completely turning into a slug. Seeing Red: A Journey Through the Moral Divide seriously merits your attention. We all find ourselves using polarizing rhetoric, even when we know better. One place I'm very guilty of it is when discussing the Religious Right. I mean, seriously, who ARE these people?????

Oh wait... sorry.

Film-makers Leah Belsky and Gerry Corneau examine the people in the religious middle. Is there such a thing as a uniquely American (meaning U.S.) faith experience? Both disturbed over the results of the 2004 elections, they look at the power that evangelical Christianity has over American political life. Is there necessarily a link between evangelical Christianity and the Republican Party?

Mostly they conclude that of course there's no necessary link between evangelical religion and Republicanism. Karl Rove's efforts at wedge-driving notwithstanding, nor is the split between liberals and evangelicals anything more than empty rhetoric. The problem as they see it is that it's easy for us to affiliate in groups where we aren't challenged, where we needn't wrap our brains around people who are very different from us. So we believe the media stereotypes.

Okay, sure.... maybe. Nonetheless, I can't think of truly meaningful ways to engage in dialogue. We can hardly do it within my church, much less outside. And the internet certainly hasn't worked yet for inter-religious dialogue. Sometimes I think the internet encourages disrespectful, inflammatory discourse rather than anything worthwhile. So... got any ideas? Where can we go from here?

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