Howard Fineman was on the Colbert Report talking about the 13 arguments that define America. While Stephen Colbert, obviously, digresses far away from the book topic, there’s a few nuggets worth extracting.
First, Fineman articulates that within a nation, the arguments work. They are relevant and understood. When you move out of that nation, and the arguments need translation. For instance, other countries don’t understand our arguments, and thus they look silly or need explanation.
Second, Fineman said that the 13 key arguments are key because they are interpretations of key values. For instance:
Once you accept the personhood of an individual, then you have to say “who deserves to be an American person entitled to the protections of American law”…what rights do we extend to immigrants once they are on our soil?
It makes me wonder what are the key arguments that our faith communities struggle with and that define us and that are untranslateable outside our faith community context.
Each church is a nation, with key arguments that keep on coming up (in healthy or unhealthy ways). Perhaps then the approach is not to answer the arguments, or silence the arguments. Instead, find out what are the key values that underline the arguments, and nuance and expand them.
For instance, coming to a better understanding of the value of personhood in politics leads to transformation to everything from immigrants to abortion. Thus, coming to a better understanding of “holy ground” may transform how the church understands trustees, building usage, and use of the church as a safe sanctuary for illegal immigrants on the run.
What are the 13 arguments in your church, and what are the values that they are based on? What are the ways that one can massage those values to lead to consensus?
Discuss in the comments!