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Sept. 28, 2022

Episode 46: Pursuing Authentic Conversations about Religion and Politics with Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor

Episode 46: Pursuing Authentic Conversations about Religion and Politics with Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor

🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶


🎶 Episode Intro:Hey friends. Welcome back to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast. Today is the day, the day that I've been waiting for. The day, I think, maybe you have been waiting for. Today on Pursuing Uncomfortable, we are talking about politics and religion. No, we're not going to take sides or tell you what's right or wrong, but I'm going to introduce you to the Reverend Dr. Brian Kayler. This is how he makes his living, by helping people have civil conversations and authentic conversations about religion and politics. He is the editor of Word & Way, and has a lot of wisdom to share with us today. As always, if you have any comments and I know you will drop your comments and questions over in the blog, you can find the link in the show notes, as well as the link to watch the video portion of the podcast on YouTube. 🎶



Melissa Ebken  0:00  
Brian, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. I'm really excited for this conversation today. The definition for so many of us about uncomfortable and what that means is, let's talk religion. And politics. Let's put it all together in one giant conversation that for so many defines what discomfort is. So let's jump all into the middle of that.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  0:27  
Yeah. Thanks for having me on the yeah, it is often said that religion and politics are the topics you shouldn't have for polite dinner conversation. And so I have a great dinner guest.

Melissa Ebken  0:40  
I bet your calendar is full. Well, that leaves room for you to meet with me today. So for that, I am thankful. Yeah. So let's just jump right into it, shall we? Why do we not talk about religion and politics?

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  0:58  
Yeah, I mean, I think part of it is because they're so important. They are foundational to who we are as an individual. And so then we, you know, we want to avoid that clash. Oh, this person has a different foundational belief, or particularly early on, if we don't know someone, well, we're trying to get to know them. Right, we stick with the safer topics of you know, it was a movie you saw recently, because we can disagree on a movie and still get along together. But if we have this disagreements, that fundamental base value issues, then maybe we'll find a little bit harder to continue this relationship.

Melissa Ebken  1:36  
Don't you think, though, that ultimately, and I understand this is so hard at the beginning, and I've experienced this myself, but ultimately, it's those relationships where we have those differing foundational beliefs that are so valuable to us, in the long term.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  1:52  
Yeah, that can be so important to actually hear from people and to know people that have different ideas on religion, or politics or other, you know, critical issues. And yet, in many ways in our society, that's not really valued anymore. And so we don't have a lot of spaces. We don't have a lot of people that model, that for us in the public sphere, we used to hear all the time about members of Congress across parties, or Supreme Court Justice, like Scalia and Ginsburg, being, you know, close friends. And it seems like that that doesn't get modeled. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but they don't talk about it themselves publicly. Instead, they do the public demonizing each other rhetoric. And so it's not modeled for us that, hey, you know, what, you could have a Republican and a Democrat, and they could be friends. Or you could have, you know, a Presbyterian, and a Baptist or, you know, a Jew, Jew and a Muslim, or, you know, we could, you know, cross these boundaries. We just don't see that as much in the public square.

Melissa Ebken  2:44  
And to be honest, we have to have a little Mia culpa in that ourselves, because the media doesn't. The media reports what the people want to hear, and the those stories of the different parties getting along doesn't sell as many newspapers or ad space as the warring differing.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  3:04  
Exactly. That's right.

Melissa Ebken  3:07  
How can I start having a conversation with someone that has a differing different fundamental value than I do?

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  3:16  
Yeah, I mean, the first, first thing you have to do is to be willing to listen. Right? And so I think a lot of times we go into these conversations, our defenses up, and maybe even ready to convert the other, you know, particularly in a spiritual conversation, but even politically, right, we want to convert people to our side. And if we go into a conversation trying to convert the other, it changes the way we listen while they're talking. Because we're listening for what are they saying that's wrong, or that I need to correct or that I need to respond to I need to retort and not actually listening to who they are as an individual coming to understand them. So that first step is just that simple, like actually listening to somebody not to respond, but just to hear their perspective and to understand where they're coming from. Because a lot of times, even if we won't necessarily join them, in their perspective, if we know where someone's life journey has been, it might be easier to understand why they believe what they believe, even if we don't end up believing it as well.

Melissa Ebken  4:18  
You know, I have an example that is similar to this. And I think it's helpful to illustrate this. When I was early on very early on in my ministry, I visited with a woman whose granddaughter was killed in a in an accident. And I went to see her and she said, You know, God needed her more than I did now, and my stomach just clenched, and that theology is much different than my own. And I was all ready to jump right in there. However, I'm so thankful that I was listening and heard the sentence she said prior to that, and that sentence prior was there one thing getting me through this. So thank you that spirit for giving me the ears to listen and to really hear that because had I not heard that I would have taken away the one thing that was getting her through that. But instead, I heard how she was getting through it and was able to support her. I didn't, I could do that without, you know, buying in and sacrificing my own beliefs. But I heard the whole context. And I think that's at the heart of what you're saying that someone who has a different political belief than we do isn't bad or mean. I mean, they may be, but that doesn't give us the sole basis for that. They're probably coming from a place of deep love and concern and compassion. And we could find that if we take the time to listen.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  5:54  
Exactly. And you know, once we listen to others, and truly listen, let them tell their stories, they're going to be much more likely to in turn, listen to you and your perspective and here here's what you know, this is where I've come from. And that's the way we get to really get to know people as who they are not a stereotype. Or for particularly, if we're not used to having conversations with people that have different religious backgrounds or different political beliefs. We have a lot of stereotypes that we bring into the situation, like you just said that, you know, maybe that we think of they're a bad person inherently and you know, some of them are but many of them are not right. And so we have to actually learn to see this person as an individual. And not just you know, one more person in this stereotypical group that we've created in our lives.

Melissa Ebken  6:44  
I loved the Christmas show, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when I was little came on once a year, it still does come on once a year, even though there are more options for seeing it now. But the things I loved about it and valued about it as a little child that spoke profoundly to me, is that here are the outcasts, and they were shut out. They found this place this Island Of The Misfit Toys, and they found a home there. And then when they came back, they were welcomed for the gifts that they had, even though those gifts were different than the others. But also at the end of that story, the Island Of The Misfit Toys, all those toys found a home because they were specially needed, where an average toy wouldn't cut it, they needed the special toy with this special gift. That's what I remember from that movie. When my son watches it, or all of my friends talk about it, they have much different takeaways. So it's possible that we can live and experience the exact same event and come away from it with a bunch of different message and experience.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  7:49  
Yeah, of course there's also that moment the end where the elf kills the bird. But you know, there's that all right my brother can't fly and he's putting parachutes and all the other misfit toys to drop them and he sees its a birds so he just tosses it. But we already know it's a misfit toy because it's a bird that can't fly so anyways, I assume the birds dead but sorry to 

Melissa Ebken  8:06  
Well or maybe there was another story yet untold that saved that bird and redeemed it.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  8:11  
I'm not trying to ruin your movie. I love the movie, too. But is that part cracks me up too.

Melissa Ebken  8:16  
Yeah, I'm gonna watch for that next time.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  8:19  
It'll change the way you see the ending.

Melissa Ebken  8:21  
Absolutely. All right. Well, let's talk about some more difficult topics. Why do Americans tend to make politics and religion so similar?

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  8:33  
Yeah, I think politics and religion have become conflated in many ways. And, and in some ways, I, I almost think what's really happening is that we're flipping them. So in many ways, we're giving politics, the credit, the power, the influence, the sway on our lives that we used to give to religion. Can you say more about that? Yeah, let me give you perhaps the best example to think about this is Robert Putnam and David Campbell, Harvard and Notre Dame have done some research on looking at how Americans think about religion. They had a book several years ago called American Greece, and in the research and talking to Americans, they found that, you know, four decades ago, if your pastor said something that conflicted with your chosen politics, that you were more likely to change your political ideas, and maybe even your political party. But then today, and actually, today, pre COVID, was when their research came out, I think COVID exasperated all of us because of all the politics people are involved in but today, if your pastor says something that conflicts with your chosen politics, you are more likely to change your church than your politics. Or if there's enough of you in the church, you'll just change your pastor. And so, what that says to me is that religion is now not the foundational key thing that everything else is built on including our politics. But that politics for many people that party ID is the new religion. And that it's, it's even worse than it sounds. When I've tried to explain this to pastors, I tell them, It's not that now the second biggest influencer, sort of first and second only to politics, it's that people are wholly tolerating you as long as you toe the party line. So, you know, we can't serve two masters, or Jesus taught us that. And so something is going to be our core foundational system of beliefs and values. And I think that what we have seen over the last four or five decades is that that has increasingly come for a lot of people politics. So we review, we view our religion through the lens of politics instead of the other way around. And so, you know, sometimes so what we call religion, a lot of times, it's actually our politics. And I think that is really making it difficult to have these conversations.

Melissa Ebken  10:55  
Well, and then the constitutional scholars amongst us are gonna say, wait a minute, but we have found a founding principle in our country of separation of politics and religion.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  11:07  
Yeah, well, I mean, though, with separation of church and state, which is a little different, I would say that they're in politics or religion. So we're not going to have the official institutions come together. Although, you know, I would say that we can't take politics out of religion. The politics are there's some there's some inherent overlap between those. But you know, we do see that even at that constitutional principle is under attack today. Right. And that used to be an accepted. You know, I've studied presidential campaign rhetoric for decades. And you see this transition happening in beginning to emerge in the 80s. It's really strong today. And seeing politicians actually attacking the idea of separation of church and state. We had a US Congresswoman in Colorado a couple of months ago who said she was tired of hearing about it because now the constitution it just comes from a stinking letter. She's referring to the letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to Danbury Baptist as a as a, you know, Baptist minister, I take a little offense to that idea that it's just some, you know, random stinking letter. I mean, he was speaking the language of Baptists. Baptists were the ones that had already been arguing for a couple 100 years, that church and state should be separated. Uh, Jefferson was in some ways pandering. He knew that when he was writing that letter, he wrote about this with, like, what he was saying, when he was saying there should be a wall of separation between church and state. And so, you know, this used to be an idea that united us and so even these, these basic constitutional ideas now are becoming divisive and dividing us politically.

Melissa Ebken  12:30  
My giftedness doesn't lie in this field as yours does. But I have read lately certain that there are groups that are political groups that are organizing under nonprofit status, so that they can claim both, they can be a church and politically active. That seems antithetical to what we're talking about. How does that happen? How does that exist?

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  12:55  
Yeah, so you know, there's been a number of examples from you know, some of them have been more like religious parachurch organizations like, you know, Samaritan's Purse, Billy Graham Association, that seemed to have been done a few years ago, more to kind of hide how much money Franklin Graham was making, you know, because if you're a church, your association churches don't have to report as much information publicly in your taxes. But now we're seeing it happen in more political groups. One that caused a lot of attention recently, we wrote about it went away at our email newsletter, A Public Witness was the Family Research Council. This group was very much designed formed to to be a political activism organization, and they have a tax exempt arm, and as long as they follow the rules, everything, you know, that's fine, you know, and so if you want to support that political position, that political framework, you have an option to do that. But they are not at church. Right, but they are now have been restructured and reorganized and classified, according to the IRS as the association of churches. That is what gives them a less transparency that they have to give the rest of us. So the IRS, once you get this classification, we now will know less information about what this organization is doing, how its spending its money, and so forth. Because of this principle of separation of church and state, the IRS has fewer reporting requirements for churches. And so but it also fundamentally undermines the whole idea of what does it mean to be the church? And this is coming from an organization that claims to be Christian? Right. And so, you also ask the question is like how this is happening? I think the impact of it is really ripping out due to the loss of transparency, but this this misunderstanding this, this this shouldn't what does it mean to be a church? What does it was mean when you read the New Testament to think about this community of believers. Why it's happening is the IRS is woefully underfunded. And so you know, for decades, there's been a lot of, you know, attention lately, people are upset that there's going to be more money going to the IRS, but it's been underfunded for decades. And so they just don't have the resources to check all of this. And they've been scared to look at barraged with churches, houses of worship have been able to get away with things that other nonprofits would not be able to because they're afraid of the lawsuits or the allegations that they're persecuting Christians, and so on and so on. So they just don't have the funding or the backbone to actually enforce rules against Christian nonprofits. And unfortunately, some people are taking advantage of that.

Melissa Ebken  15:23  
As the lies be the case, 

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  15:24  
That a oh! Does that mean, right, it is as simple as Dr. Rejuven said, like somebody will take advantage of it if you if you give them a loophole,

Melissa Ebken  15:32  
Boundary smoundary, let me see how far I can push that one.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  15:36  
Yeah. And unfortunately, that's right. Yeah,

Melissa Ebken  15:40  
In so many areas in society, we're pushing that boundary, and it's breaking and Oh, my bad. So sorry, you felt that. But, you know, so there's this constant pushing? And what is truth? You know, it used to be truth is what was reported, whether that's through media, or what have you. And Aristotle has this quote that says, democracy can only exist in a community already dedicated to virtue to virtue. So as the community we live in the culture we live in, is it as committed or committed to virtue then these things creep in, in our democracy? How do we, how do we remain faithful? How do we have integrity to our political beliefs, integrity in our faith beliefs, and not get lost in this morass of boundary pushing and truth distortion?

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  16:44  
Yeah, I mean, you've raised what is a critical issue facing our democracy today. And that is that we don't even have a basis of understanding facts. Right. It's one thing to have a difference of opinion, that we can disagree about a political issue, we can have a conversation, you know, take X, Y, political policy, you know, student loan forgiveness in the news now or anything in the past, right? Yeah, we could take the issue. And as long as we have the same facts like this is what's proposed, we can disagree as to whether or not it's a good policy or bad policy, and, you know, have a civil conversation, remain friends, so on and so just agree to disagree. But what we have now seen too often is we don't even have an agreement as to what the facts are. So, you know, we can't have a conversation about whether something's a good policy or not, because we don't even have an agreement as to what has actually happened, we don't have an agreement as to what reality is. And that has been, I mean, you know, we can spend a lot of time I've taught whole college courses on media politics. I mean, we spend a lot of time on this area, because there's a lot that has happened. I mean, we've had what's called the balkanization of our media, to kind of draw this a metaphor from Yugoslavia, the Balkans region, you know, dividing into, you know, tribal areas. That's what's happened to our media over the last few decades. And so, you know, if you're a conservative, you consume conservative media, if you're a liberal, you consume liberal media, and you never actually have to hear the other media, right. And so we all are only learning, you know, from one side, and we're not hearing the other side, we're not actually even seeking out many times, balanced media or other perspectives or other voices. And so then when a conservative who only concern consumes conservative media, has tries to have a conversation with a liberal who only consumes liberal media, they might not even think they're talking about the same issue, because the basic understanding of facts is so fundamentally different. And then we have what's happened even more recently, is this weaponization then of the media, right of using media, you know, not not to tell the truth, not to help people understand but only to attack. And then politicians, you know, calling fake news, which by what they really just mean is news that I don't like, right now. They're actually not, you know, news is actually false. But fake news becomes news I don't like. And then actual false information that is nice to me. Well, that's great news. Right, that that's telling it like it is and so we don't have it's so hard for us to have these conversations because we we don't even agree what what truth is. 

Melissa Ebken  17:38  
And that's been building for decades. The spin has 

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  18:55  
Its been building. 

Melissa Ebken  18:56  
Yeah, that we used to call it spin and recognize that there was truth that's got a little spin, but the spinning is getting cyclonic

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  19:28  
Yeah, we're all dizzy now. We don't even know how to stand up right.

Melissa Ebken  19:32  
Yeah. You know, one of my big pet peeves is not understanding the difference among opinion, belief and fact. I believe something; that's a belief that's not a fact. Nor is it an opinion. My opinion is a take on a belief or a take on a fact and a fact is something different altogether. And I think you know, if we can relearn the differences there are learn the first time the differences there and start using those filters when we speak, that might be helpful.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  20:10  
Yeah, yeah. And it's such a societal, like, issue. It's like, where do we even start? I mean, obviously, you know, schools and that kind of thing. But that that's almost too late then for most of the people that are part of the problem right now is how do we help people understand the difference between, an opinion, a belief or a fact, but it's definitely a problem in our society.

Melissa Ebken  20:30  
You know, I have, oh, I live in a really small town. And when we go to vote, I'm known by name, there's, maybe there are maybe three other people in the place at the time when we're voting; there are tables in the back, I've always had the privilege of having my child with me even when he was very little. And we would go sit at one of the tables and look at the ballot, and I would fill it out. And he was free to ask me questions. And he would say, I think you should vote for that person. And I said, thank you for your input. This is my vote, this is my choice. And here's why. Someday you will get to exercise that for yourself. I love that opportunity. Voting for me in a different environment wouldn't be the same. So and I always get really anxious about it, too, because what am I teaching him here? You know, he'll point out, oh, that person had a cool commercial. Okay, that's not a basis for judgment, but good that you recognize that. But having those conversations all along, I think is going to be significant later on. You know, it's too soon to see the fruits of that yet. But I'm hoping that he will have seeds planted in him that he can have conversations about that, that he will have the distinctions of criteria in his mindset and be able to discuss that. But if I'm listening to this podcast, I'm thinking okay, so what's the takeaway? What do I, what do I do now? What do I know now that I didn't know before? So can you give us a few tips or a few strategies that we can take from this conversation?

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  22:19  
Yeah, sure. I mean, we've talked already about, you know, listening, which is that first step, if we're not willing to listen, then we're not going to be able to engage a conversation. I think, you know, there's also important in in as you're sharing what you believe, is, is not feeling like you have this burden of conversion. Right. I mean, this is this is important in evangelism as well. It's it's conversations, you know, what version, either religion or politics. You know, most people aren't going to suddenly change their mind based on one conversation, no matter how brilliant you may think you are, you probably don't have, what's the one magic bullet argument, that's going to be totally flipped somebody's 180 degrees from being a hardcore Democrat to a hardcore Republican or from being, you know, a non Christian to a Christian, it just doesn't happen in that, you know, one conversation, it may seem like sometimes, to us that it does is like, somewhat like, we know, you know that with one conversation of boom, they've like, Oh, yeah. But in reality, there were probably a lots of little points already, they were already wrestling with these issues, they already had other people that had come through it had shared a little bit of their story, and they had read something that had them sharing. So taking a lot, that burden of conversion, you are not here to convert somebody, you are here to tell them your story. And maybe that helps, you know, move them a little bit further, maybe just helps them take down the defensiveness, you know, the wall that they have, but they wouldn't even listen to someone like me now, they're like, well, that person was actually nice. Like that person, you know, we had a pleasant conversation, and I didn't actually agree with them, but I like them as a person, you have already now helped move that person along. And it's a lot more freeing, right to not be, I have the responsibility of converting this person. Like, I'm just gonna tell them, This is who I am. This is why I believe this. And I think that can make for much better conversations. Because you know, it's not about like, what can I accomplish in this one conversation? Do not go into your conversations with that agenda. You're not going to build a proper relationship, a true relationship. It's, hey, can we have a good conversation? And if we enjoy hanging out together and discuss issues, maybe we can have another conversation, right? We get together for coffee every week, or you know, whatever. And so, like that building of the relationship, more than focusing on that conversion idea, I think is much more enjoyable. One, as a human being, you'll enjoy way life more, but it's also you know, I think it's actually more effective in the long run, as well. And then, you know, it's just how do we have these conversations, where we just don't immediately throw up our own defenses get aggressive get angry, right? So just because someone doesn't agree it's not the end of the world. Right? And so, you know, we can we can just agree to disagree. You know, we can be passionate, but we can do so without hating the other person and upset at the other person. How do we I mean, you know, it comes down that simple idea. I mean, we, we teach it to our children, and then we don't really live it out. But it's the golden rule, right? I mean, you know, just treat others how you want to be treated, right. And so, you know, we may think that this person is being really dumb right now, why do they understand it? But we wouldn't want someone calling us stupid if we didn't understand something. And so, you know, how do we treat people, you know, as a Christian is how do I treat people with the recognition that they still are made in the image of God, no matter how wrong, I may be convinced they are, no matter how awful I may think they are, they're still made in the image of God, there's still love by God, and they still have an option for redemption. It may not seem possible when we think this person is so far gone but like, they're still always holding out that hope of redemption. So I think that attitude, the way we think about treating people, is so much different. I mean, if I can't let me, let me show a metaphor example. This is something that we talked about in communication research. The metaphor is the way that we imagine something impacts the way that we then act. So you know, if we think about one of the famous examples, used in communication literature is thinking about the the idea of an argument is, which is, which is probably our classic definition, like we think about going into an argument, right? It's a battle is, you know, good versus evil, right versus wrong, one of us is going to win, and the other one is going to lose, the other person is my opponent, I have to defeat them. Right? That's, you know, and so if you have that mindset, right, you're not going to give up an inch, you're not going to compromise, you're going to do everything you can to prove to the other person, they're wrong, because you got to beat them, or they're going to beat you. And I think that's the way that we treat most of our conversations about religion and politics today. If we instead think about an argument as a dance, with a metaphor of a dance, it changes the way we think about the argument, and it's going to change the way we act while in an argument. Because see in a dance, the, it's no longer now, opponents fighting each other, this other person is our partner. And it's not that I'm standing over here and you're standing over there in one spot we're going to stand our ground and one spot is going to win its that we now have to work together, where there's giving and taking there, we're moving around, we're not, we're not going to end up where either one of us started. And so we're working together to try to understand and hopefully even create something beautiful. And so the way that we start thinking about people, the way we think about our conversations is going to change the way that we act in them. So we need more dancing and less fighting, I guess.

Melissa Ebken  28:00  
You know, I had a couple of takeaways in what you were saying first. Well, I'm a big fan of ice cream. But I don't eat ice cream every time I encounter it, because that would be horrible for me. But sometimes I do enjoy a serving of ice cream. It's like hearing things that we disagree with, we don't have to engage every time we disagree with something that's not good for us or for the other person, we can walk on by. And now and then we can engage. The other thing that I really appreciate when you first started out with this, as you talked about two people having a discussion and one person, that the burden of conversion isn't there that a person is just sharing their story. And I really want to highlight that because you did not say one person is sharing truth. They're sharing their story. Truth is always just beyond our grasp. In my mind, it's something that is a focal point that calls us forward, that moves us forward. It's the ultimate end. And maybe someday we'll get there and maybe we'll get there after this life. But truth isn't something I own or you all own. And we have a responsibility and a burden to share it. And I think when we can jettison the idea that we own and have the truth, that we are all trying to get closer to it. That that also relieves a burden. And it goes along with what you're saying about conversion. You know, when a whale jumps through the water, it's an amazing moment. Look, out of nowhere this whale is breaking the surface. Well no, that whale has been doing a lot of things under the water and ultimately all of the work and the muscle movements and all of those thoughts and plans came together and it broke the surface. So I really appreciate your thoughts there, that we share our story with the hope of understanding someone else's story, to move closer to what we may discover someday is truth.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  30:15  
You know, one way of thinking about it is, you know, imagine you're on a, on a bus taking a trip. And we're not God, we're not we don't have the the infinite perspective. So we don't know all things, right, the idea of not having the truth. What we know is what we can see on the journey. And if you're comparing notes later, you might have a completely, you know, I'm sitting on the right side of the bus, and you're sitting on the left side of the bus. And you know, we're looking out the windows, and we're seeing completely different things. Sometimes we're seeing the same thing, very similar things. But other times, I might see something you don't see, you might see something I didn't see. And so that's the idea of sharing our story. Because we're not God, I can't give you all of the truth. But I can tell you what I have experienced what I have learned, what I have seen.

Melissa Ebken  31:00  
I use a metaphor, often with kids in middle school, in my town, we had years ago, there was a chemical plant explosion in our town. And it's very much a part of our, our myth in our community, community story, and even kids that are born now afterwards, they know this event, they know the story. Its part of their story now too. When they get to biology class and start learning about evolution, a lot of times, I'll get questions. What am I supposed to do with that? So I'll talk about the chemical plant explosion. And I'll say, okay, what if a physicist and a poet, were both watching this happen? And they both wrote down what they saw and explained what happened? Would they write the same thing? No. Does that mean one of them's wrong? No. But having both of their accounts gives us more information about that event. And I think that's what you're saying, too, is we each see it and experience it differently. And arguing about who's right, is kind of a point to nowhere, that it doesn't move us forward at all. But when we can collect all the stories, we get a bigger picture of what's going on.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  32:20  
Yeah, yeah. And especially, you know, when you're telling your story, right, that's, that's also something that's not really debatable. We're not we're not because we're at this point, we're not talking about like arguing about, like, is this policy good or bad? Like, let me tell you what I have experienced, or what someone's saying, this is what I've experienced, I'm not going to say like, No, you didn't. I wasn't there, but that didn't happen. Right. 

Melissa Ebken  32:41  
Unless its your sibling, then it's your responsibility to correct. 

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  32:44  
Listen, she is wrong. So you know, I remember the stories better. So. Yeah, I mean, it's a different level of conversation.

Melissa Ebken  32:53  
Yeah. This has been excellent. Brian, if we want to engage, and I know we will, where can we find more of this, tell us what you do and how we can follow you and stay informed.

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  33:05  
So I'm the editor and president of Word & Way, we are a publication that's been around since 1896, you can find us at wordandway.org. We have a podcast, Danger, Dangerous Dogma that I host, we have a monthly magazine. And then we have an email newsletter that particularly focuses on issues of the intersection of religion and politics. And so if you're particularly interested in learning more about that original reporting and analysis on that at a public witness, you can find that either at our main website or at publicwitness.wordandway.org. And I would love to be able to have more conversations with people as they engage in those platforms.

Melissa Ebken  33:43  
Thank you. And we'll have the links to all of those things in the show notes so people can click on it very easily and find those avenues. Also, if you're listening to the podcast, check us out on YouTube. And you can see this interview and links will also be there as well. Brian, I'll let you have the last word today. What would you like to leave us with?

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  34:03  
Oh, man, that's so nice. You know, hosts never give the first and the last. But no,

Melissa Ebken  34:09  
True confessions. I will say thank you at the end but otherwise

Rev. Dr. Brian Kaylor  34:13  
I get the last word. But you know, thanks for having this conversation. I started with the joke of people are scared of having these conversations or we say that's taboo topics for polite dinner conversation. But what I have found is that people are actually hungry to have conversations about faith and politics, maybe not necessarily together sometimes together. Because as I said earlier, these are so core to who we are as a person and so someone's not going to feel like they know you or you know them until you start talking on these levels. And so I think people actually are ready to have these conversations. They're just afraid that you're not ready to join them as that dance partner. 

Melissa Ebken  34:53  
Thank you, Brian.

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