Talking about Politics and Religion
December 2, 2013
They say you shouldn’t talk about politics and religion, but I had occasion to go to two Thanksgiving dinners last week, and at both I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk about politics and religion, if not with the whole party, then at least with a couple of the people there. It went, as far as I am aware, very well: Neither they nor I became unpleasant or unkind at any point; no one raised his voice or started interrupting or talking over anyone. They were, in fact, perfectly enjoyable conversations, even though (if it doesn’t go without saying) we disagreed on the substantive underlying issues (I was talking with an atheist, a liberal, a Muslim, etc., about health care, etc.).
It seems to me that the important distinction is not in what you talk about, but in how you talk about it. Before I was Christian, I tended to get drawn into arguments where I was very emotionally invested; trying to argue down the other person was for me a sort of compulsion. In the years after my conversion, God did some work on me, and I am today basically free from the compulsion. It is that compulsion, that felt need to be right or to be better than the other guy, that is the problem, in my experience. Without it, I can have a detached conversation—not in the sense that I don’t care about the underlying substantive issues (on the contrary, I still care enormously about liberty, etc., and I care more than ever about God and the truth of Christianity), but in the sense that I can nevertheless have a pleasant conversation with someone on the subject, as about any other topic that is outside of myself.
I wish everyone could!