Blue State/Red State

Yesterday I listened to this past week’s “This American Life” episode “Red State Blue State” and I would highly recommend listening to it today during all the chaos of the election. It and a post from a Facebook “friend” have me thinking a little (this is a friend from High School so the only reason the quotes are used is because I find the concept of Facebook friends rather disturbing). Here is the part of his post that I am of thinking of.


I think my friend’s point is quite good. We should talk and discuss issues that are important. I believe people should hold certain views passionately and work diligently to see their dreams for the betterment of our country accomplished. I think such things are beautiful and to use my friend’s phrase “SO COOL!” The problem is that while I think my friend’s point is good and right I also think he is wrong.

The reason I think he is wrong is because I actually don’t think we are seeing (especially in the “FB feeds” he is talking about) discussion. Instead we are seeing people typically shouting/talking AT each other rather than talking/shouting WITH each other. “WITH” is the word to use for discussions. You talk “with” someone. It involves two at the minimum and sometimes many more than two. “AT” is an entirely different story. You can talk “at” someone and they don’t really need to be involved. “AT” equals lectures. “AT” doesn’t involve an use of one’s ears. “AT” just requires a mouth. “AT” personifies a lot of what I think is  presently considered political “discussion.”

This doesn’t mean that we need to always agree with the other sides (please notice the plural) of the issues. There are things concerning which we should passionately disagree with each other. I ‘m not opposed to thinking the other person is wrong. Let’s face it. I’m a minister and I regularly talk with people who consider themselves atheists, agnostics, people from other faiths, and people who are practical atheists in the way they live their lives. If I don’t disagree with these friends and if I am not convinced that they should believe closer to what I believe then I am probably not worth the salt in my body. But if I don’t treat those with whom I disagree with the love and respect that is a part of the good news of the Kingdom of God then I nullify the very message I am trying to spread.

For example I agree less with the politics of my parents now than I did 20 years ago. They know this and I know this. They think I am wrong and … well it would be impolite and not very respectful for me to say I think my parents are wrong so I’ll just say that I think they have better ideas on other subjects. 🙂 Anyhow we get heated every now an then. Why? Well because I love and trust my parents to still love me after I am stupid and I think they feel the same about me. My dad and I don’t usually avoid political subjects (though my mom would probably prefer that we did). Sometimes those conversations go well and sometimes they don’t but they are almost always conversations and not lectures at each other. We are truly discussing what we believe not just shouting AT each other. My dad doesn’t disown me and I won’t forget that he is my dad. After all, just because you disagree with someone strongly doesn’t mean that they are the enemy, evil, or hate the U.S. of A. They just disagree with what you think is best.

So my hope for the country that I love is that we would have more passionate discussions concerning things that really matter to us. I pray that we learn to strongly disagree with one another and still talk and work with each other. Because right now our country’s elections remind me more of college football rivalries than they do a debate of differing philosophies of government.

Now go vote if you haven’t already … or if you are in Chicago or Louisiana maybe go vote a second and a third time (it’s a joke people).

SIDE NOTE – You really should go listen to the “This American Life” episode “Red State Blue State”. It is really good.

6 Replies to “Blue State/Red State”

  1. “…people are practical atheists in the way they live their lives…”

    I’d love to know what you mean by this, given that atheism offers no advice or claim regarding how one’s life should be lived.

    1. “DVD Bach” that’s you’re name? Anyhow thanks for the comment and joining the conversation.

      The answer would be that I mistyped and left out the word “who.” So it should have read “people who are practical atheists” (i.e. professing a belief in a deity but said belief has no discernible effect on the person’s life).

      I would also add that I wouldn’t agree with you concerning “atheism offer[ing] no advice or claim regarding how one’s life should be lived.” I have met some atheists who proselytize and that inherently involves offering advice and claims “regarding how one’s life should be lived.” Of course, that doesn’t represent all people who are atheists. That’s the problem with broad statements concerning non-defined groups. There is always some exception and no “rule.”

      1. You’re mistakenly attributing the actions of atheists to the idea of atheism. Atheism is simply the belief that there are no gods. It has no moral teachings or imperatives.

        I’m not sure why “practical atheism” is an appropriate term for someone whose religion has no outwardly discernible effect on their lives. They’re still religious; you’ll just making a judgment call about them and lumping them in with those of who aren’t. I don’t see the point of that.

        1. I guess you are right in a sense that an “ism” can’t have actions but the actions of its adherents should come out of the ideals of that “ism.” For example on your Facebook page you posted this:

          This is obviously trying to offer “advice or [a] claim regarding how one’s life should be lived.” I assume that action comes out of your belief. If that is true then the action isn’t divorced from your “ism,” it comes from it.

          As for the lumping practical atheists with those who aren’t religious, you don’t have to worry about them being lumped with you (I’m making an assumption concerning your belief here – please forgive me if I am wrong). It is a different category. One that is often used in comparative religion, sociology, and various discussions of worldview. People often have a claimed religion/worldview versus a practical religion/worldview. This is because being religious does involve actions. If a person doesn’t do any religious activity ever should they really be considered in the category of that religion.

          1. You are right; I did offer advice with that post. But that is not a moral imperative with atheism. Plenty of atheists don’t offer such advice; I simply chose to. It is not a tenet of atheism, as atheism has no tenets; it is merely a single belief.

            I think you’ve missed my point on “practical atheism.” You’re saying that if you can’t tell someone’s religion by observing them, they’re a “practical atheist,” rather than a religious person who chooses to keep his religion to himself. Why? What does it matter if a person is public about his religion? What is significant about that fact that makes in necessary to describe them using a term for a completely unrelated group of people?

            (Use of the masculine pronoun was for the sake of brevity; my question could apply to either gender.)

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