Category Archives: Dialogue and Civility

The Weirdest Common Ground Ever

Many people are bemoaning America’s vicious public square. Few are discussing the weird common ground that most of us share—and what might be the best way to address it. Two recent conversations brought this into focus for me. The first—with a conservative Christian friend who reluctantly supported Donald Trump—fulfilled a longing I’ve had since the […]

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Where Convictions and Friendship Collide

You’re talking with an old friend over coffee. At one point in the conversation, she uses a word that sets off every alarm bell in your head. Clearly she believes something you don’t believe at all. What do you do? Bill and I have been discussing God for decades. He is a Calvinist, a deep […]

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Looking for Common Ground on the Gun Debate

When it comes to guns, what can we all agree on? You may think this a fool’s question, especially if you’ve spent any time with the media (print, broadcast, social, or otherwise) in the past 48 hours. We have relived, yet again, a pattern that is not only tragic but disheartening. A horrific shooting takes […]

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What I’ve Learned from the Race/Policing Conversation

Over the past week or two, I’ve had a number of vigorous and civil conversations about police behavior, the use of force, and race in America. Emerging from those conversations are several points that, I think, are underrepresented right now in the public square. So here is what I’ve heard and learned and come to […]

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I Went to a Flame War the Other Day…

…and a civil dialogue broke out. A few weekends ago I took part in an event related to my hobby. From what I could see, it was very well run, the venue was ideal, and everything went off smoothly. Many people praised the organizers on Facebook, where our colleagues tend to gather. Then there was […]

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A Miracle in Sonoma?

Sometimes, when we talk less, it’s amazing what we hear. One highlight of my trip to San Francisco last month (to promote the book) was the chance to take part in “5 White Guys Talk about God,” a panel hosted by psychotherapist, author, and good friend Katy Byrne. (The title was strictly tongue-in-cheek.) When Katy […]

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Dialogue When the Sparks Fly

Bad moods and Facebook are generally a lousy mix. We’ve all heard warnings about that. In most cases, I can back away from the keyboard long enough to calm down. Sunday was different. As you might expect, it left me with some lessons for dialogue. The dustup started when a Facebook friend—someone who consistently posts […]

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When a Dialogue on Guns Breaks Out—or Two or Three

Sometimes people inspire the hell out of me. That includes some of you over the past three weeks. In my last post—shortly after the horrific shootings in Aurora, Colorado—I posed a few questions for people on both sides of the ongoing debate over gun ownership.  The public square was abuzz with many of the typical […]

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Maybe We Shouldn’t Write Them Off Just Yet

Earlier this summer, I had a run-in with one of our neighbors. He inquired about a matter that he saw as an affront to his property rights. (It was. My wife had an agreement with his wife, but…well, it’s a long story.) I asked him a clarifying question, but my tone of voice was all […]

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