Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Times Are A-Changing

Have you ever watched the McLaughlin Group?  If you're not a usual viewer and you have just meandered onto the show, it might seem like everyone is hollering at each other.  Well, oftentimes I am reminded by that at my own dinner table.  Often I am reminded of that in the cafeteria, at work.  Heck, just friends and I in a restaurant, can go at it.

This is especially true when the subject is religion.  It doesn't matter what religion; we can all be Catholics.  But when the subject is immigration, gays, health care, traditional Masses, Liturgical Dance, BXVI, or how to receive Communion, you'd think you're experiencing the McLaughlin Group.

In Beyond the God Gap by Jim Kessler and Robert P. Jones, PhD in the Huffington Post, I read where it's normal to holler at the dinner table.

It's time to drop all divisive language and rethink the way we talk about opposing views.  Stop vilifying the liberals/conservatives.  LISTEN instead of shouting.

These old "god gap" assumptions we encountered in our pasts were not atypical. Public conversations about religion and politics continue to fall into well-worn ruts based on stereotypes: evangelical Christians march monolithically to a right-wing tune; mainline Protestants are no longer relevant; Catholics in the pews affirm all official church positions; and the non-religious are moral relativists. But as we have discovered through research and in our own lives, the truth is more nuanced and interesting. And understanding this truth is heartening and essential not only for anyone hoping to make progress on specific issues such as gay and lesbian rights, abortion, and immigration reform, but also for anyone working to foster a more civil dialogue throughout the country.

Today, Kessler and Jones assert, are four religious groupings: white evangelical Protestants, white Mainline Protestants, African American Protestants, and Roman Catholics.  They are finding differences of opinion in all groupings.  More vocal gay and lesbians are shifting opinions.  More immigrants are adding a new dimension to all churches.  Hispanics are changing the Catholic Church.  
Yesterdays conservative is today's liberal.  Not quite.  But there is change happening.  It's time to rethink our stereotypes and listen with open ears and minds, and hearts.  

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