What We Need Is To Save Grace In Public Debate | Jesus’ Creed
Everyone says it because it’s true. Our nation is divided into factions. Politics cuts us in half and religion cuts some and puts others above. Wearing masks transforms some into bestial behavior. Which is one of the problems. We gravitate towards extremes. Facebook knows this; Twitter knows this; and that’s why the robots of Silicon Valley are shaping our culture. Social dilemma was made clear to those who watched, as Kris and I did.
We need the voices of reason. We need political analysts and religious columnists who do not erase our differences or turn to hard-nosed numbers, but who can find the problem itself and speak intelligently about it. And hold a speech that neither shames nor threatens the opposing party, but shows respect in the event of disagreement.
We also need people who will publicly confess, apologize, repent, mend, reconcile, and restore what they were complicit in the factional split.
What we need is an old-fashioned Christian idea called grace.
We now have it all in Kirsten Powers’ wonderful new book, Saving Grace: Speak Your Truth, Stay Focused, and Learn to Coexist with People Who Drive You Crazy.
Those of you who read me, knowing that I do not enter political discourse very often for the reasons already mentioned, may not be familiar with it. She is both a political analyst and a columnist CNN and on United States today. I’ve read it for years because it’s what I love most about political commentary: lucid, fierce at times, but reasonable and logical. Over the years, I have sometimes written to him to express my gratitude.
My appreciation is now over this book. No idea or doctrine in Christianity is more emphatic than grace, although it has sometimes been a punching bag among theologians. Grace should also be instinctive Christian ethics, especially for those who are enemies. This book is the best study I know of on integrating the ethics of grace into politics and our public discourse. It is a model for others to work with other virtues.
Here’s one of the reasons I admire this book. No area of our public life today is more vulnerable to attacks, misreading and intentional misrepresentation than what we say about politics. Columnists are the target of attacks, some vicious and many dehumanizing. For a chronicler and political analyst, presenting a posture and a practice of grace tilts the apocalypse towards the realities of the kingdom!
There is a remarkable, admirable and disarming vulnerability in Saving grace but she remains her fierce and clear self. The book is partly memory and partly commentary, but above all it is a journey through his life. Which means deep trauma, ‘unadulterated rage’, suicidal ideation, depression, painful relationships, dualistic and binary thinking of ‘loving people or hating their guts’, transparent confessions, public commitments and some convincing invites us to continue our public discourse with grace. And a lot of talk about his therapists and therapy. She has a wonderful chapter on trauma and one on Twitter / social media and boundaries and confirmation bias with an attribution asymmetry of humility and motivation with an exceptional discussion of genuine repentance (rooted in the upcoming book of a female rabbi, which I can’t wait to read) and, finally, I counted ten steps in a healthy work of conflict.
The relationship between church and state is probably more controversial than a theology of grace, but Kirsten does something about this book that I have rarely found. It takes a Christian theology of grace and elaborates it page after page for political discourse. She probes and explores and pushes and questions out loud and warns and nuance, but she remains focused on what grace might do for us personally and publicly. It’s an amazing book.
His Roman Catholic faith provides context as there is no better book on social justice than Catholic study. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. (I bought my copy from the Vatican bookstore.)
What we need now is a book like this from the Tory Republican side. God knows Kirsten can’t help but be on the progressive side.
Grace put into rhetorical practice on both sides can heal our society. Not to unite it in uniformity but to unite it as our nation is meant to be: in a republic of tolerance. Those infected with grace do not intimidate, insult, ignite gas, or remain silent. They converse in their critiques of positions and ideas.
In this article, I’ll drop quotes from his book that are worth slowly reading. Tell me which is your favorite and why:
Grace gives others a space to not be you.
Practicing grace, in other words, can be really difficult.
It’s something we love to receive, but often the last thing we want to give.
Grace exists especially for the person who we believe is particularly unworthy of it.
Grace is not asking you to accept the status quo.
We all need to focus on how we can spread more grace in the world, not how we can take it away from others.
Grace is something you should focus on giving, rather than obsessing over others not giving it to you or to those you love.
I prefer the paradigm of grace to that of unity.
Grace helps us overcome these differences while honoring the humanity of others and of ourselves.
[In learning on this journey, she said] I just wasn’t in the mood for grace.
I just couldn’t afford the grace to do anything less than perfectly.
But at some point, a period of grace ends…. The grace period for racism, misogyny and all fanaticism is over.
Do people really think marginalized people haven’t noticed what a one-way street grace is?
The truth will set you free, but first it might break your heart [in confession]. We need heartbroken people full of empathy if we are to heal this country.
This is one of the hallmarks of grace: not seeing people as the sum total of their mistakes, bad decisions, or even bad beliefs.
[Our criminal justice system] is a system totally devoid of grace.
To call [vs. calling out] is an act of grace.
If there is one practical idea that sums up grace, it is the belief that people do the best they can with what they have.
… limits help us to have the grace to ourselves.
Sincere remorse has the power to release grace.
… As my icy certainty about this matter thawed under the gaze of grace.
Grace does not circumvent responsibility. Grace without repentance and responsibility is called “empowering.” Grace creates space for repentance, reparation, and reconciliation.
[Jesus talks about] peace manufacturers [not] peace guardians. [Peacekeepers avoid conflict while peacemakers enter into the conflict to make peace.]
Grace is an idea worth saving, and in the end, maybe it’s what saves us, in ways we haven’t yet imagined.
Here you will read a book about emotional, psychological healing and social conversion as you discover the transformative power and the sweet glories of grace.