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Sept. 28, 2022

Episode 46: Pursuing Authentic Conversations About Religion and Politics

Episode 46: Pursuing Authentic Conversations About Religion and Politics

Brian Kaylor, a Baptist minister with a Ph.D. in political communication, is president and editor-in-chief of Word&Way. He writes about faith, culture and politics at publicwitness.wordandway.org.

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Transcript

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 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 Kaler. 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 and 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:

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 in 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

Brian:

that. yeah. Well, thanks for having me on. Yeah, it is often said that, uh, religion and politics are the topics you shouldn't have for polite dinner conversation. And so I am a great dinner guest

Melissa:

I bet your calendar is full well that leave room for you to meet with me today. So for that, I am thankful. So let's just jump right into it. Shall we? Why do we not talk about religion and politics?

Brian:

Yeah, I mean, I think part of it is because they're so important, right? They're they are foundational to who we are as an individual. And so then we, you know, we wanna avoid that clash of, oh, this person has a different foundational belief or, you know, particularly early on, if we don't know someone. We're trying to get to know them. Right. We stick with the safer topics of, you know, what's a movie you saw recently because we can disagree on a movie and still again, along together. But if we have dis disagreements that fundamental base value issues, then maybe we'll find it a little bit harder to continue this relationship.

Melissa:

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

Brian:

long term. Yeah. That can be so important to actually hear from people and to know people that have different ideas on religion and politics or other, you know, critical issue. 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. I mean, you hear all the time about members of Congress across parties, or, you know, Supreme court, justice and Lexi Scalian Ginsburg being, you know, close friends. And it seems like that that doesn't yet model. 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, uh, a Presbyterian, a Baptist or a, 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

Melissa:

square. 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. And those stories of the different parties getting along, doesn't sell as many newspapers or ad space as the, the warring differing.

Brian:

Exactly. That's right.

Melissa:

How can I start having a conversation with someone that has a differing different, fundamental value than I do? Yeah. I mean the

Brian:

first, the first thing you have to do is be willing to. And so I think a lot of times we go into these conversations, our defense is up and maybe even ready to convert the other, you know, and particularly in a spiritual conversation, but even politically, right. We wanna convert people to, to our side. And if we go into a conversation trying to convert the other, it changes the way we listen while they're. 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 report and not actually listening to who they are as an individual mm-hmm, coming to understand them. And 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 you know, 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:

You know, I have an example that is similar to this, and I think it's helpful to illustrate this. Uh, 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. Now, and my stomach just clenched and that theology is much different than my own. And I was already 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 is one thing getting me through this. Hmm. 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've 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 beliefs than we do isn't bad or mean, I mean, they B but that doesn't give us this 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,

Brian:

Exactly. And, you know, once we listen to others and truly listen, let them tell their stories, they're gonna be much more likely to in turn, listen to you and your perspective, and here, here's what, you know, this is where I'm coming from. And that's the way we get to really get to know people as who they are not a stereotype, right? Particularly if we're not used to having conversations with people that have different religious backgrounds or different political belief. We have a lot of stereotypes that we bring into the situation, you know, like you just said that, you know, maybe that, that we, we think that 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, you know, learn to, 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 minds.

Melissa:

I loved the Christmas show route off the red nose reindeer. When I was little, it came on once a year. It still does come on once a year, even though there are more options for singing now, but the things I loved about it and valued about it as a little child that spoke profoundly to me is that here were 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 this 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 much different message and experience.

Brian:

Of course, there's also that moment at the end where the El kills the bird, but you know, there's that right? A bird that camp fly and he's spending parachutes on all the other misfit toys to drop him. And he sees that the bird. So he just tosses it. We already know that's a misfit toy, cuz it's a bird that camp fly. And so anyways, I assume the bird's dead, but. Sorry to well,

Melissa:

or maybe there was another story yet untold that saves that

Brian:

birding. I'm not trying to ruin your movie. I love the movie too, but if that part cracks me up too.

Melissa:

Yeah. I'm gonna watch for that next time. Yeah, that's

Brian:

right. And you it'll change the way you see the, the

Melissa:

ending. Absolutely. All right. Well, let's talk about some more difficult topics. Why do Americans. Tend to make politics and religion. So similar.

Brian:

Yeah. I think, you know, 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. Can you say more about that? Yeah. Let me perhaps the best example to think about this is, uh, 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 grace and in their research and talking to Americans, they found that, you know, four decades ago, if your pastor said something that conflicted with your chosen politic. That you were more likely to change your political ideas and maybe even your political party, but then today, and I actually mean today pre COVID was when their research came out. And I think COVID exasperated all of this because of all the politics that 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. Right. And. 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, it it's, it's even worse than it sounds when I'm trying to explain this to pastors, I tell them it's not that now the second biggest influencer of world you sit first and second, only to politic. It's that people are wholly tolerating you as long as you tow the party line. Hmm. Right. So you, you know, we can't cert two masters or Jesus thought us that. And so something is gonna 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, we view our religion through the lens of politics instead of the other way. And, and so, you know, sometimes, so what we call religion a lot of times is actually our politics. And I think that is really making it difficult to have these conversations

Melissa:

well, and the constitutional scholars amongst us are gonna say, wait a minute, but we have a found founding principle in our country of separation of politics and religion.

Brian:

Yeah. Well, I mean, though, it's separation of church and stay, which is a little different, I would say, in politics of religion. Right. So, you know, we're not gonna have the official institutions come together. Although, you know, I would say that we can't take politics kind of religion, the religion politics, or there's, there's some inherent overlap between those. But, you know, we do see that even that, that constitutional principle is under attack today. Right. And that used to be an accepted, uh, you know, I I've studied presidential campaign rhetoric, uh, for decades. And you see this transition happening, uh, in beginning to emerge in the eighties. And it's really strong today in seeing politicians actually attacking the idea of separation of church and state. We had a us Congresswoman Colorado a couple of months ago, who said she was tired of hearing about it, cuz not a constitution who comes from a stinking letter. You're 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, you know, he was speaking the language of Baptist Baptist were the ones that had already been arguing for a couple hundred years, that church and state should be separated. And Jefferson was in some ways pandering. He knew that when he was writing that letter, he knew about this would like what he was saying. And he was saying, there should be a. 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, and dividing us politically.

Melissa:

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?

Brian:

Yeah, so, you know, there's been a number of examples from, you know, some of them have been more like religious per church organizations, like, you know, Samaritans first Billy Graham association, uh, that seemed to have been done a few years ago, more to kind of hide how much money Franklin Graham was making. You know, cause if you're a church here, association of churches, you don't have to report as. Information publicly in your text, but now we're seeing it happen in more with political groups. One that caused a lot of attention. Recently, we wrote about it at word 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 form. And as long as they follow the rules, everything, you know that that's fine, you know? And so if you wanna support that political position, that political, uh, framework, you have an option to do that. But they are not a church. Right. But they are now have been restructured and reorganized and classified according to the IRS as the association of churches. Uh, that is what it gives them a less transparency that they have to give the rest of us. Right. So the IRS, once you get this classification, we now will know less information about what this organization is doing, how it's spending its money and so forth because of this principle, separation church and state, the IRS has fewer reporting requirements for churches. And so, but it, 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 as like how this is happening. I think the, the impact of is really horrific, not just the loss of transparency, but this, this misunderstanding, this, this, this Perion of what does it mean to be a church? What does it mean when you read the new Testament to think about this community of the levers? Why is happening is the IRS is woefully underfunded. And so, you know, for decades, it's been a lot of, you know, attention lately. People are upset that there's gonna be more money going to the IRS. Um, but it's been underfunded decades. And so they just don't have the resources to check all of this. And they've been scared. To look at fraud 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, 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 the rules against Christian nonprofits. And unfortunately, some people are taking advantage of that. Mm-hmm

Melissa:

as will always be the. Always,

Brian:

I mean, right. Business, simple BJU and sand. Like, somebody will take advantage of it. If you, if you give them a loophole

Melissa:

boundary boundary, let me see how far I can push that one. Yeah. And unfortunately that one test, right? Yeah. In so many areas in society, we're pushing that boundary and it's breaking and oh my bad. So sorry. You felt that when I, you know, so there's this yeah. 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 a virtue to, to virtue. So as the community, we live in the culture, we live in isn't 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 more ass of boundary pushing and truth

Brian:

distortion. Yeah, I mean, you've raised what is a critical issue facing our democracy day and that is. We don't even have a basis of understanding facts, right? It's one thing to have a difference of opinion. We, we, 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. You know, 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, and, you know, have a civil conversation, remain friends so on. And so just agree to disagree. But what we have now 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 is actually happened. We don't have an agreement as to what reality is. And that has been, I mean, I, you know, we can spend a lot of time. I thought whole college courses on via politics. I mean, we can spend a lot of time on this area because there's a lot that has happened. I mean, we've. What's called the balkanization of our media to kind of draw as a metaphor from Yugoslavia, the Balkans region of, you know, dividing into, you know, tribal areas. That's, what's happened in 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. Balanced media or other perspectives or other voices. And so then when a conservative who only conserv consumes conservative media has tries to have a conversation with a liberal who only consumes liberal media. They, 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 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. Not that actually not, you know, news, that's actually falses, 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 cuz we, we don't even agree. What, what truth. And

Melissa:

that's been building higher to bar pages. The spin it's been building. Yeah. Yeah. We used to call it spin and recognize that there was truth that got a little spin, but the spinning is getting cyclonic

Brian:

anymore. Yeah. We're all dizzy. Now. We don't even know what, what, how to

Melissa:

stand up, right? 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 could relearn the differences there or learn the first time, the differences there and start using those filters when we speak, that might be helpful.

Brian:

But. Yeah. And, and it's such a societal like issue. It's like, where do we even start? Right. 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, you know, opinion of belief and the back. But it's a, it's definitely a problem. Our society,

Melissa:

you know, I have, oh, I live in a really small town. And when we go to. 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. 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, like, okay, that's not a basis or 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. 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 a 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?

Brian:

Yeah, sure. I mean, we've talked already about, you know, listening, which is that first step, like we're not willing to listen and we're not going to be able to engage that conversation. I think, you know, there's also important. And then as you're sharing, what you believe is, is not feeling like you have this burden of conversion, right? I, I mean, this is, this is important in evangelism as well, since conversations, you know, or British issues of religion or politics, this, you know, most people aren't going to subtly change their mind based on one conversation, no matter how brilliant. And I thank you. you probably don't have like the one magic bullet. It's gonna immediately flip somebody 180 degrees from being a hardcore Democrat to a hardcore Republican, or from being, you know, a non-Christian to a Christian. It just, it, it doesn't happen in that, you know, one conversation. It may seem like sometimes to, to us, that it does like, is someone like we know, you know, they have one conversation and boom, they'd like, oh yeah. But in reality, there were probably lots of little points already. They were already wrestling with these issues. They had already had other people that had come through. Had shared a little bit of their story and they hadn't read something, they had them sharing. So taking off that of conversion, like you are not here to convert somebody, you were here to tell them your story. And maybe that helps, you know, Move them a little bit further, maybe just helps. 'em take down the defensiveness, you know, the wall that they have, they wouldn't even listen to someone like maybe 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 free, right. To not be like, 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. 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. not going to build a, a, a proper relationship, a true relationship. It's it's Hey, can we have a good conversation? And if we enjoy hanging out with each other and it's 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 relat. More than focusing on that conversion idea, I think is much more enjoyable. for one, as a human being, you'll enjoy 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 could be passionate, but we can do so about hating. The other person said at the other person. So how do we, I mean, you know, it comes down to 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, uh, golden rule, right? I mean, you know, just treat others how you wanna be treated. Right. And so, you know, we may think that this person is being really dumb right now. Why do they not understand it? But, you know, 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 limit of God? No matter how wrong I may be convinced they. No matter how awful I may think they are. They're still made in the image of God. They're still loved by God. And they still have an option for redemption. It may not seem possible when we think this person is so hard on, but like they're still always holding out that whole, uh, of redemption. So I think that attitude, the way we think about treating people is so much. I mean, if I can, let me show a metaphor example, this is something that we talk about in communication research, you know, 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, use communication, literature is thinking about the, the idea of an argument is which is a, which is probably our classic definition. Like we think about going into an argument, right? It's a battle. It's you know, good versus evil, right versus wrong. One of us is going 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 gonna give up an inch. You're not gonna compromise. You're gonna do everything you can to prove to the other person they're wrong because you've gotta beat them or they're gonna 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 the 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 opponent fighting each other. This other person is our partner, and it's not that I'm standing over here and you are standing over there in one spot. We're gonna stand our ground at one, spot's going to win it's that we now have to work together. We're GI there's giving and taking there, we're moving around. We're not, we're not gonna 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. So we need more dancing, less fighting, I guess.

Melissa:

you know, I had a couple 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. Hearing things that we disagree with, we don't have to engage every dime. We disagree with something that's not good for us or for the other person. We can walk 'em 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 wanna 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. And, 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 outta 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

Brian:

truth. You know, you know, one way of thinking about it is, you know, imagine you're on a, on a bus, uh, 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, uh, what we know is what we can see on the. If you're comparing notes later, you might have it 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 simpler things. But other times I might need see something you don't see and you might see something I didn't see. And it, 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, what I have.

Melissa:

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 and our communal community story. And even kids that are born now, afterwards, they know this event, they know this story. It's 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? Oh 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 is 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.

Brian:

Yeah. And especially, you know, when you're telling your story, right. That's, it's also something that's not really debatable, right? Like 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 when someone's saying this is what I've experienced, I'm not gonna say like, No, you didn't if I wasn't there, but that didn't happen. Right.

Melissa:

Unless it's your sibling, then it's your responsibility to correct. Listen, she is wrong.

Brian:

So, you know, um, I remember the stories better, so yeah. I mean, it's, it's a different level of conversation.

Melissa:

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. Yeah, thanks.

Brian:

So I'm the editor and. Word and way we're, publication's been arou since 1896, you can find us at.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 all at 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, A public witness. You can find that either at our main website or at public witness dot way, org, I would love to be able to have more conversations with people as they engage in those platforms.

Melissa:

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. Interview and the 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? Oh

Brian:

man. That's so nice. You, the host network give the, the, the first and the last,

Melissa:

but, well, I thought, you know, true confessions, I will say thank you at the end. but otherwise knew I knew it was a

Brian:

trick take the, no, I just, but you. Thanks for having this conversation. I started with a joke of people, you know, are scared of having these conversations. So we say this have topics for polite 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 gonna feel. 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 are not ready to join them as that dance partner.

Melissa:

Thank you, Brian.