Public Discourse

What Do You Mean?

One of the most frustrating aspects of the recent civil unrest in America for me, has been trying to figure out what people mean by what they say. Am I at fault for failing to understand the plain meaning of simple words, or are the words themselves intended to obscure the real intentions of the speaker?

I am beginning to suspect it’s the latter. It seems that words are being used in a manner intended to hide, not reveal what the speaker actually means.

Defund the Police

Consider the catchy slogan, “Defund the police.” What does that mean? It sounds like the abolishment of police departments by eliminating their funding. If money for salaries, training, headquarters, equipment and vehicles is withdrawn, there will no longer be any police. Am I wrong for thinking that’s what “defund the police” means? But no, several prominent politicians have assured us that “defund the police” doesn’t mean get rid of the police, even if that’s what it sounds like. It really means reduce some fraction of present funding by shifting it to other purposes such as social work or reduction of poverty.

Well, that’s reassuring. At least we should be able to have an honest conversation about whether police officers could be more effective if they were not expected to deal with social problems. Still, one wonders exactly what that means as well. How can the police know if a call for help involves social problems before they respond to the call? I’m not sure I understand exactly how this is supposed to work.

1287 reads

Why Christians Must Be to Loyal to Truth, Not Political Party or Brand

My thoughts below predate COVID-19, masks, hydroxychloroquine, or churches defying public health emergency orders. Last fall, different controversies were exposing problems in how believers evaluate conflicting claims and decide what to believe.

But those problems are still with us, and the current raft of controversies is exposing them even more painfully.

Many Christians who claim to revere the Bible lack biblical habits for evaluating truth claims and consequently lack skill in judging the ethics of situations in a biblical way. It seems almost ubiquitous now—the habit of putting the political/culture-war lenses on first, and embracing or rejecting claims based solely on source classification (friend or foe). The result is that ideas are accepted uncritically if they’re perceived to be from “our people” and rejected reflexively if they’re seen as from “the other side.”

What’s missing is weighing ideas and claims on their own merits—on things like evidence and sound reasoning. Increasingly, what’s completely missing is any nonpolitical consideration of what Scripture teaches and what sound application requires of us.

More than ever, believers need to meditate on a genuinely Christian view of truth and on a genuinely Christian approach to evaluating truth claims. At least five principles are are fundamental that effort.

4390 reads

“We may have Jesus in the bio, but it's the Republican or Democratic Party that is really in our hearts.”

"'Follower of Jesus.' A follower of Jesus myself, I normally like to see those words on someone's Twitter profile. Lately, however, I'm reluctant to scroll down for fear that this same follower has cussed out a politician on the social media platform or tweeted nasty things at a person they disagree with." - Dan Darling

300 reads

“We have allowed the secular political discourse to renew our minds so that we can only see liberal versus conservative, control versus freedom.”

"'Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone' (Titus 3:1–2). These marks demonstrate true faith and integrity among Christians." - Wyatt Graham

291 reads

Survey: A plurality (46%) of Americans believe that cancel culture “has gone too far.”

"While online shaming may seem like a major preoccupation for the public if you spend a lot of time on Twitter, only 40% of voters say they have participated in cancel culture and only one in 10 say they participate 'often.'" - Politico

436 reads

The State of Social Conservatism and the Role of “Public Discourse”

"Join a political movement if you like, but don’t confuse it with an intellectual movement. To the extent that you wish to pursue intellectual authenticity in public, you will need to give up on direct political influence." - Daniel Burns

286 reads

“The offense caused by the truth does not detract from the necessity of the truth. On the other hand, rash words can devastate.”

"The Latin term ad hominem literally means 'to the man.' ... 'attacking the person of a source rather than his or her qualifications or reliability, or the actual argument he or she makes.'" - Ref21 

249 reads

Facts don't matter to the already-made-up mind

"In a recent article, Dennis Prager lists four practices that are destroying America from the inside. One of those he outlines is demonization, where an entire class or group of people is labeled as inherently evil. Heather Mac Donald’s WSJ editorial challenged this very thing." - CPost

564 reads

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