Politics: Week 2 Summary

Politics: Week 2

Summary: Sunday, July 15-Friday, July 20, 2018

When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us—our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy. —Parker Palmer (Sunday)

Contemplative Christians can model a way of building a collaborative, compassionate politics. I suggest we start by reclaiming the wisdom of Trinity, a circle dance of mutuality and communion. (Monday)

Three words encapsulate a new way of being political as we strive to come home to ourselves as a planetary, cosmic and spiritual species: interdependence, sustainability, and justice. —Diarmuid O’Murchu (Tuesday)

We are beginning to understand, amidst the horror and suffering of our divisions, that we will be well to the extent that we move back into relationship with one another, whether as individuals and families or as nations and species. —John Philip Newell (Wednesday)

The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? —Terry Tempest Williams (Thursday)

Finding a way to not vilify or divide into “them” and “us” in today’s federal politics goes against . . . current custom. . . . So my contemplative practice is to attempt to sit open-handed and listen to the “wee small voice” that sometimes whispers ideas and ways forward. —Simone Campbell (Friday)


Practice: Breaking Bread

If we Christians claim to have anything to do with Jesus, then we must inherently be engaged with the political issues of our time. We need not seek division and further polarization; however, we can continue to engage in tough debate and conversation across dividing lines, expressing our own deeply held convictions and being willing to be changed by our encounter with the other, because that is the way that Jesus engaged with others. —Peter Armstrong [1]

Again and again, Jesus demonstrated one of the simplest, surest ways to connect with others across differences: share a meal. Somehow in eating together our barriers lower. We sit across from and beside one another, at the same level. Perhaps we recognize the familiar in each other, the universal need to be fed.

I encourage you to participate in some form of breaking bread this weekend as a contemplative practice, a way to open your heart and be deeply present to someone else.

The People’s Supper, a nonprofit “building community through better conversations,” offers a helpful framework for purposeful meals. Their goal is “to repair the breach in our interpersonal relationships across political, ideological, and identity differences, leading to more civil discourse. And, we plan to do it in the most nourishing way we know—over supper!”

This isn’t about a political party, or what is or isn’t happening in Washington. It’s about us, and our relationship to one another. Too often, we exist in echo chambers and see each other as monoliths: one-sided stereotypes who can be reduced to a single word or phrase.

Instead, we want to go beneath the headlines, to see each other as real people with real struggles, real fears, real hopes, and real dreams.

Suppers are a place where we can come together over one of humanity’s most ancient and simple rituals. A place where we can share meaningful stories, good food, and a sense of community. A place where we can build understanding and trust.

We invite you to pull up a chair. [2]

The People’s Supper helps hosts create a safe, comfortable space. You don’t have to be a professional chef! Potlucks—where everyone brings something to share—are the best way to build community. You don’t have to make charming repartee. The People’s Supper provides questions to stir thoughtful conversation. Simply be you, your most heart-full you. Here are just a couple questions to carry with you:

Think about someone you don’t get along with. What’s something you think you have in common?

Share a story about someone you love but who you disagree with about something. [3]

[1] Peter Armstrong, “Faith in a Prison Cell: A Personal Narrative of Transformation,” “Politics and Religion,” Oneing, vol. 5 no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), 74.

[2] The People’s Supper, https://thepeoplessupper.org/. See their free resources, including guides for tough topics like abortion: https://thepeoplessupper.org/resources/.

[3] “The Opposite of Hate” Discussion Cards, The People’s Supper, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/595e51dbd1758e528030285b/t/5aaac27b575d1fabe2c61298/1521140347800/DiscussionCards_TheOppositeofHate_TPS.pdf.

For Further Study:
Simone Campbell with David Gibson, A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community (HarperOne: 2014)

John Philip Newell, A New Harmony: The Spirit, the Earth, and the Human Soul (Jossey-Bass: 2011)

Diarmuid O’Murchu, Religion in Exile: A Spiritual Vision for the Homeward Bound (Gateway: 2000)

Parker J. Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy (Jossey-Bass: 2014, ©2011)

Richard Rohr and others, “Politics and Religion,” Oneing, vol. 5 no. 2(Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017)

Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016)

Image credit:
Mexico–United States barrier at the border of Tijuana and San Diego (detail), Tomas Castelazo, 2006. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt—some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us—our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy. —Parker Palmer

The work of the Center for Action and Contemplation is possible only because of friends and supporters like you!

Learn more about making a donation to the CAC.