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Saturday, September 24, 2011

"How to Talk About Religion Without Starting a Fight"

That's the title of a handy little post at Jezebel.

It's basic stuff: figure out if it's appropriate; don't assume you're an expert; seek common ground. Still, we've known people to whom we would have liked to hand a printout of the post, along with a magnet to make sure they put it on their refrigerator.

Funny thing: some of those people don't even believe in God, and yet they still have astonishingly strong opinions on religion.


Brant Clements said...

Fr. A:

As I read that link, I kept thinking that in the best of all possible worlds these guidelines for civil conversation about religion might work.

It was interesting to see how quickly the comments thread degenerated into rancor, name-calling and general unpleasantness.

Father Anonymous said...

Yep. I went over and checked, and it's pretty ugly.

We're living in tough times, civility-wise. The internet, with it's near-anonymity and its culture of sound-bite-sized comments, is doing a lot to pull away the pot-lid of mutual toleration and show the boiling cauldron of rage underneath our society. Or to make it boil more, I'm not sure which.

I mean, one of my most recent comments was from a white supremacist in Montana, defending a neo-Nazi porn star because, well, she was white. Or something.

Mind you, I get pretty uncivil myself, particularly about the folly of politicians and the clergy. But there is a difference between private and public figures, for one thing. And, for another, there's the fact that, during his term in office, I scrupulously referred to our last president as *President* Bush, rather than by his last name or any of the various epithets that sprang to mind. Point being that, much as I dislike the guy's policies, I was able to exercise at least a smidgen of rhetorical self-discipline. (And, okay, the existence of the Patriot Act made this easier for me.)