[Sayma-Discuss] [Sayma-Announce] How to talk to evangelicals

Bert Skellie bertskellie at gmail.com
Mon May 7 14:02:31 EDT 2012

Good point - As Quakers many of us also believe we can hear from God, so we
should find some common language.


On Mon, May 7, 2012 at 12:06 PM, Joe Parko <jparko90 at charter.net> wrote:

>   Interesting article for Quakers to contemplate
> May 6, 2012, 8:34 PM
> Do as I Do, Not as I Say
> By T. M. LUHRMANN<http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/author/t-m-luhrmann/>
> Stanford, Calif.
> IT’S election season, and once again Democrats are flummoxed by
> evangelical voters. They think that “those people” vote against their own
> self-interest. They cannot believe that same-sex marriage matters so much
> to so many people. They don’t get why Obamacare is controversial. To them,
> evangelicals don’t make sense.
> That’s because evangelicals and secular liberals (the most puzzled
> Democrats) think about life — and therefore politics — in such utterly
> different ways.
> If you want to understand how evangelicals conceive of their political
> life, you need to understand how they think about God. I am an
> anthropologist, and for the last 10 years I have been doing research on
> charismatic evangelical spirituality — the kind of Christianity in which
> people expect to have a personal relationship with God. They talk to God,
> and in some way or another, they expect that God will talk back. This is a
> lot of people. In 2006, the Pew Forum reported that 23 percent of Americans
> embraced this kind of “renewalist” Christianity and that 26 percent said
> they had received a direct revelation from God.
> What someone believes is important to these Christians, but what really
> matters is becoming a better person. As I listened in church and
> participated in prayer groups, I saw that when people prayed, they imagined
> themselves in conversation with God. They do not, of course, think that God
> is imaginary, but they think that humans need to use their imagination to
> understand a God so much bigger and better than what they know from
> ordinary life. They imagine God as wiser and kinder than any human they
> know, and then they try to become the person they would be if they were
> always aware of being in God’s presence, even when the kids fuss and the
> train runs late.
> This is tough to do. Christians understand that it is hard and so they
> practice being with God in many different ways. They set themselves tasks —
> ministering in jail, feeding the homeless, helping to set up the church on
> Sunday morning — so that they can grow through the experience of service.
> They care about the task, of course, but even more they care about becoming
> a person of God through doing the task.
> Anna Parini
> Some evangelicals think about this process as spiritual formation, some
> talk about it as redemption, others as salvation. Whatever you call it, the
> point is that the person is changing for the better and that the process is
> long, slow and hard.
> This completely changes the way someone thinks about politics.
> When secular liberals vote, they think about the outcome of a political
> choice. They think about consequences. Secular liberals want to create the
> social conditions that allow everyday people, behaving the way ordinary
> people behave, to have fewer bad outcomes.
> When evangelicals vote, they think more immediately about what kind of
> person they are trying to become — what humans could and should be, rather
> than who they are. From this perspective, the problem with government is
> that it steps in when people fall short. Rick Santorum won praise by saying
> (as he did during the Values Voters Summit in 2010), “Go into the
> neighborhoods in America where there is a lack of virtue and what will you
> find? Two things. You will find no families, no mothers and fathers living
> together in marriage. And you will find government everywhere: police,
> social service agencies. Why? Because without faith, family and virtue,
> government takes over.” This perspective emphasizes developing individual
> virtue from within — not changing social conditions from without.
> If Democrats want to reach more evangelical voters, they should use a
> political language that evangelicals can hear. They should talk about the
> kind of people we are aiming to be and about the transformational journey
> that any choice will take us on. They should talk about how we can grow in
> compassion and care. They could talk about the way their policy
> interventions will allow those who receive them to become better people and
> how those of us who support them will better ourselves as we reach out in
> love. They could describe health care reform as a response to suffering,
> not as a solution to an economic problem.
> To be sure, they won’t connect to every evangelical. But the good news for
> secular liberals is that evangelicals are smarter and more varied than many
> liberals realize. I met doctors, scientists and professors at the churches
> where I studied. They cared about social justice. They cared about the
> poor. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many of them got into their
> cars and drove to New Orleans. This is a reachable population, and back in
> 2008, a quarter of white evangelicals voted for Mr. Obama. Democrats could
> speak to evangelicals more effectively if they talked about how we could
> develop our moral character together as we work to rebuild our country.
> *T. M. Luhrmann<http://www.stanford.edu/dept/anthropology/cgi-bin/web/?q=node/105>,
> a professor of anthropology at Stanford, is the author of “When God Talks
> Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God.”*
>    -  *E-mail*
>    - *Print*<http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/do-as-i-do-not-as-i-say/?pagemode=print>
>    -
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