Reforming American Politics: A Christian Perspective on Moving Past Conflict to Conversation (Paperback)
Christianity and political conflict are paired so often in daily headlines that Harold Heie's message is astonishing. A lifelong practitioner of respectful engagement with others, Heie lifts up core Christian values that can transform toxic confrontations into constructive conversations. He proposes a "Way Forward" beyond the us-versus-them tribalistic fighting mentality that currently plagues politics.
As a Christian, Heie believes that "Jesus has called all his followers to love their neighbors. Providing someone who disagrees with you a safe and welcoming space to express that disagreement and then talking respectfully about your disagreement is a deep expression of love." In Reforming American Politics, Heie aims to model respectful conversations among Christians who have strong disagreements about:
- How Christians and others should talk to one another about political issues
- The meaning of politics and the appropriate scope of political activity
- Public policy proposals that are hotly debated.
He recommends a "Way Forward" for Christians, and others, to seek to reform American politics that presents a stark contrast to current ways of doing politics. In his research for this book, Heie worked with 23 diverse conversation partners for 10 months of online discussions. His electronic forum is an "eCircle" that attracted readers nationwide.
Best-selling evangelical historian Mark Noll writes, "In an age of flaming rhetoric, fractious politics and fissiparous ideology, Harold Heie exemplifies a much better way. The discussions he moderates in this book treat red-hot issues like immigration, health care, economic inequality and money in politics, as well as more general considerations of Christian principles, Christian prudence and Christian practice. The marvel for readers will be to see believers airing their differences frankly, but doing so with Christian friendship preserved and Christian wisdom to the forefront. It is hard to imagine a better book for times like these."
Award-winning journalist and scholar of American religion Randall Balmer also urges readers to explore Heie's thoughtful approach to encouraging dialogue by basing his appeal on timeless Christian principles. Balmer writes: "At a time when public discourse has devolved from disagreement to partisanship to tribalism, Harold Heie has determinedly promoted 'respectful conversations.' As evident in this, his latest summation, Heie does not settle for bromides or platitudes. He insists on thoughtful, theological, informed discussions, and he points us, all of us, toward a better way."
As Noll and Balmer point out, Heie addresses some of the toughest questions millions of American families face in trying to live out their Christian faith as well engaging in important public issues. Chapters include: "What Does Christian Love Demand?" and "The Role of Money and Special Interests in Politics" as well as "Wealth and Poverty in America" and "Christians and Churches Doing Politics."
In these pages, individuals, small groups and entire congregations will discover hopeful and effective new strategies to engage the larger world while embodying the central calling of their faith.