Author Topic: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?  (Read 7201 times)

Jim Butler

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #75 on: October 28, 2021, 11:21:23 AM »

Fair, except that my larger point was that all too often when my church body is discussed broad labels like Heterodox etc. are tossed around.

Heterodox simply means that we believe the other is not teaching correctly. The ELCA considers the LCMS to be heterodox--we don't ordain women, we do not join in various ecumenical agreements, etc.--and the LCMS considers to the ELCA to be the same.

When discussing things like those LCMS churches that have difficulty with women lectors, those of us not of your group are repeatedly cautioned not to judge the whole of the LCMS by those, nor do I judge the whole LCMS by the actions of the young local LCMS pastor who regularly sends letters to my members telling them they are bound for hell,, but every time NBW opens her mouth there is gleeful pouncing and rehashing again of all  the many ways that the ELCA has fallen into its own ditch and we are all tarred with that same brush.  I'm all for vigorous theological debate and discussion.  I would prefer that we leave condemnations and broad generalities out of the discussion.

There is a difference between NBW and the LCMS folks you mentioned. NBW has been a featured speaker at many ELCA convocations across the country, including the ELCA's most recent youth gathering, and she has been called by the Rocky Mountain Synod as a public teacher. There is every indication that the ELCA, as an institution, strongly agrees with and approves of what she teaches. Unfortunately, that makes it very easy to tar pastors like you with the same brush, especially since it looks to me as if her wing is the ascendant one in the ELCA.

In contrast, while I know many pastors who speak against women lectors, the LCMS is officially neutral. And many of those I've spoken to about women lectors are against lay lectors in general.

As for the the young pastor in your area, I believe that the LCMS, as an institution, would tell him that he is wrong. In fact, the next time he sends one of those letters to members of your congregation, I would send  a copy of his letter to his District President asking him if he thinks letters like that are acceptable and if he would speak to the pastor in question. I seriously doubt that even the most conservative LCMS DP would find such things acceptable. I certainly don't (apparently Rolf Preus doesn't either!) and I believe he needs to be dealt with.
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David Garner

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #76 on: October 28, 2021, 11:55:26 AM »

Fair, except that my larger point was that all too often when my church body is discussed broad labels like Heterodox etc. are tossed around.

Heterodox simply means that we believe the other is not teaching correctly. The ELCA considers the LCMS to be heterodox--we don't ordain women, we do not join in various ecumenical agreements, etc.--and the LCMS considers to the ELCA to be the same.

When discussing things like those LCMS churches that have difficulty with women lectors, those of us not of your group are repeatedly cautioned not to judge the whole of the LCMS by those, nor do I judge the whole LCMS by the actions of the young local LCMS pastor who regularly sends letters to my members telling them they are bound for hell,, but every time NBW opens her mouth there is gleeful pouncing and rehashing again of all  the many ways that the ELCA has fallen into its own ditch and we are all tarred with that same brush.  I'm all for vigorous theological debate and discussion.  I would prefer that we leave condemnations and broad generalities out of the discussion.

There is a difference between NBW and the LCMS folks you mentioned. NBW has been a featured speaker at many ELCA convocations across the country, including the ELCA's most recent youth gathering, and she has been called by the Rocky Mountain Synod as a public teacher. There is every indication that the ELCA, as an institution, strongly agrees with and approves of what she teaches. Unfortunately, that makes it very easy to tar pastors like you with the same brush, especially since it looks to me as if her wing is the ascendant one in the ELCA.

In contrast, while I know many pastors who speak against women lectors, the LCMS is officially neutral. And many of those I've spoken to about women lectors are against lay lectors in general.

As for the the young pastor in your area, I believe that the LCMS, as an institution, would tell him that he is wrong. In fact, the next time he sends one of those letters to members of your congregation, I would send  a copy of his letter to his District President asking him if he thinks letters like that are acceptable and if he would speak to the pastor in question. I seriously doubt that even the most conservative LCMS DP would find such things acceptable. I certainly don't (apparently Rolf Preus doesn't either!) and I believe he needs to be dealt with.

I would like to add to this, not to pile on Pastor Morlock, but to expand the conversation a touch.  There is another difference.  When you posted what you posted above, 2 LCMS Pastors immediately denounced the behavior.

But when someone posts something about Nadia Bolz Weber, others get defensive.  Were they to simply say "yeah, she should not be put in such a prominent position given her past," I don't think you'd perceive the amount of pushback because there wouldn't be any.  It's the defense of her that prompts people to say more than perhaps they might otherwise say.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #77 on: October 28, 2021, 12:07:54 PM »

Fair, except that my larger point was that all too often when my church body is discussed broad labels like Heterodox etc. are tossed around.

Heterodox simply means that we believe the other is not teaching correctly. The ELCA considers the LCMS to be heterodox--we don't ordain women, we do not join in various ecumenical agreements, etc.--and the LCMS considers to the ELCA to be the same.


I don't recall that the ELCA in an assembly has declared the LCMS to be heterodox. I believe the LCMS has done that concerning the ELCA. I see women's ordination and ecumenicism as adiaphora; they are not issues of salvation. We can disagree and remain friends, like I am with some Roman Catholics - and we certainly have some disagreements about many different issues. They have worshiped with me in my congregation; and I've worshiped with them in theirs.


"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #78 on: October 28, 2021, 12:39:03 PM »
Advocating that we be "polite" is nice, but we have varying definitions of what that means. I think "out east" we are a bit more comfortable with forceful words, loud words, even sort-of angry words than some folks in the midwest. Just yesterday, I was having a face-to-face contretemps with a medical supply company, disorganized and slow to deliver, and the woman said, "You don't have to shout."
   I responded, "I'm from New Jersey, that's how we talk, and it's nowhere near shouting."
   In this modest forum, I have tried not to declare someone "un-Lutheran" or "un-Christian" or "un-Biblical," though my language may at times have indicated I find other aspects of their belief and personality to be gravely flawed.
   In covering New Jersey state and local politics, and having covered some DC politicos, I found that - until now - they could rant, rail, and rave about another member of the body during the debate, then go out to dinner together. It wasn't personal. (That may have changed in today's settings.)
   But in church disputes, it is often "personal" or "eternal" or so earth-and-heaven shaking that rancor and nastiness abides.
I mentioned years ago how - when I worked for the Lutheran Council in the USA - Jack Preus came to a 1971 annual meeting and tried to get me and my boss, the great Erik Modean, fired because we had covered the growing troubles in the LCMS. Jack had been on a "world tour" and because the LWF ran our stories, everyone he met asked him about the controversy, which was a story for us because it was causing the LCMS to break fellowship with the ALC.
   His efforts to get us canned failed.
   That night, Erik and I were in a booth near the bar of the Grammercy Park Hotel, when Jack and Milt Carpenter and another LCMS rep came in. They sat at the bar, and in a few minutes Jack left the bar and came to our table. Instantly - while I was preparing to run for cover - Jack and Erik began reminiscing and laughing about some of the "old days" (Erik had been around since the late 1950s) and some of the folks they both knew, including ALPB notable Ade Meyer.) That went on for about an hour and when the last round of drinks came, Jack had our tab put on his bill.
Having grown up in a political family, he knew that opponents in policy need not be deadly enemies. A lot of church folks don't know that.
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #79 on: October 28, 2021, 01:07:01 PM »
   In covering New Jersey state and local politics, and having covered some DC politicos, I found that - until now - they could rant, rail, and rave about another member of the body during the debate, then go out to dinner together. It wasn't personal. (That may have changed in today's settings.)
Now instead of going out to dinner together, progressives are likely to try to get their followers to form a mob and drive those they oppose from the venue to demonstrate that they are welcome no where, or intrude upon their pursuit of bodily functions in what used to be private space.
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #80 on: October 28, 2021, 01:12:13 PM »
Charles writes:
Advocating that we be "polite" is nice, but we have varying definitions of what that means. I think "out east" we are a bit more comfortable with forceful words, loud words, even sort-of angry words than some folks in the midwest.

My point:
Even though I introduced one of the most contentious topics in recent years and had people on the forum accusing me of a wide variety of sins and illnesses, I was able to stand my ground and answer politely. Under those circumstances, I did not get thrown off the forum. In fact, I've never been thrown off the forum. That, I suppose, is the power of politeness and sincerity. I advocate for it because I know it works.
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Jim Butler

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #81 on: October 28, 2021, 01:33:14 PM »

Fair, except that my larger point was that all too often when my church body is discussed broad labels like Heterodox etc. are tossed around.

Heterodox simply means that we believe the other is not teaching correctly. The ELCA considers the LCMS to be heterodox--we don't ordain women, we do not join in various ecumenical agreements, etc.--and the LCMS considers to the ELCA to be the same.


I don't recall that the ELCA in an assembly has declared the LCMS to be heterodox. I believe the LCMS has done that concerning the ELCA. I see women's ordination and ecumenicism as adiaphora; they are not issues of salvation. We can disagree and remain friends, like I am with some Roman Catholics - and we certainly have some disagreements about many different issues. They have worshiped with me in my congregation; and I've worshiped with them in theirs.

On the one hand, it can be said that the Synod merely acknowledged formally what most of us believed to be true. The resolution pointed to specific decisions of the ELCA as a church body, e.g. fellowship with the Reformed. The resolution also noted that many faithful Lutherans remained in the ELCA.

While I personally agree that the ELCA is not orthodox (as I understand Lutheran orthodoxy) I also felt it was unnecessary and not helpful for us to say so. Why say that of the ELCA and not any other Lutheran body in America and/or the world? We are not in altar and pulpit fellowship with the ELCA, that should say everything we need to say about our feelings towards its orthodoxy as a church body.
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Dave Benke

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #82 on: October 28, 2021, 02:09:31 PM »

Fair, except that my larger point was that all too often when my church body is discussed broad labels like Heterodox etc. are tossed around.

Heterodox simply means that we believe the other is not teaching correctly. The ELCA considers the LCMS to be heterodox--we don't ordain women, we do not join in various ecumenical agreements, etc.--and the LCMS considers to the ELCA to be the same.

When discussing things like those LCMS churches that have difficulty with women lectors, those of us not of your group are repeatedly cautioned not to judge the whole of the LCMS by those, nor do I judge the whole LCMS by the actions of the young local LCMS pastor who regularly sends letters to my members telling them they are bound for hell,, but every time NBW opens her mouth there is gleeful pouncing and rehashing again of all  the many ways that the ELCA has fallen into its own ditch and we are all tarred with that same brush.  I'm all for vigorous theological debate and discussion.  I would prefer that we leave condemnations and broad generalities out of the discussion.

There is a difference between NBW and the LCMS folks you mentioned. NBW has been a featured speaker at many ELCA convocations across the country, including the ELCA's most recent youth gathering, and she has been called by the Rocky Mountain Synod as a public teacher. There is every indication that the ELCA, as an institution, strongly agrees with and approves of what she teaches. Unfortunately, that makes it very easy to tar pastors like you with the same brush, especially since it looks to me as if her wing is the ascendant one in the ELCA.

In contrast, while I know many pastors who speak against women lectors, the LCMS is officially neutral. And many of those I've spoken to about women lectors are against lay lectors in general.

As for the the young pastor in your area, I believe that the LCMS, as an institution, would tell him that he is wrong. In fact, the next time he sends one of those letters to members of your congregation, I would send  a copy of his letter to his District President asking him if he thinks letters like that are acceptable and if he would speak to the pastor in question. I seriously doubt that even the most conservative LCMS DP would find such things acceptable. I certainly don't (apparently Rolf Preus doesn't either!) and I believe he needs to be dealt with.

I would like to add to this, not to pile on Pastor Morlock, but to expand the conversation a touch.  There is another difference.  When you posted what you posted above, 2 LCMS Pastors immediately denounced the behavior.

But when someone posts something about Nadia Bolz Weber, others get defensive.  Were they to simply say "yeah, she should not be put in such a prominent position given her past," I don't think you'd perceive the amount of pushback because there wouldn't be any.  It's the defense of her that prompts people to say more than perhaps they might otherwise say.

On this point, my thinking is that the comments are less about NBW than about the supervision/supervisors in the ELCA.  NALC and particularly LCMC folks who are either no longer with the ELCA or are in protest have a major bone to pick with the ELCA about supervision/bishops from my conversations at least.  The denomination is "big tent" mainline Protestant, in one version.  Or the local leadership doesn't want to take a firm position in an area of concern received from the less progressive congregations.  They're paralyzed, and don't have the theologically structured resolutions or bylaws that encourage more active supervision.  Either way, it's more about how a person such as NBW is dealt with, or not dealt with, that underlies.  So the defensiveness is about being in a denomination that is apparently not equipped for doctrinal supervision. 

Dave Benke

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #83 on: October 28, 2021, 02:49:31 PM »
Advocating that we be "polite" is nice, but we have varying definitions of what that means. I think "out east" we are a bit more comfortable with forceful words, loud words, even sort-of angry words than some folks in the midwest. Just yesterday, I was having a face-to-face contretemps with a medical supply company, disorganized and slow to deliver, and the woman said, "You don't have to shout."
   I responded, "I'm from New Jersey, that's how we talk, and it's nowhere near shouting."
   In this modest forum, I have tried not to declare someone "un-Lutheran" or "un-Christian" or "un-Biblical," though my language may at times have indicated I find other aspects of their belief and personality to be gravely flawed.
   In covering New Jersey state and local politics, and having covered some DC politicos, I found that - until now - they could rant, rail, and rave about another member of the body during the debate, then go out to dinner together. It wasn't personal. (That may have changed in today's settings.)
   But in church disputes, it is often "personal" or "eternal" or so earth-and-heaven shaking that rancor and nastiness abides.
I mentioned years ago how - when I worked for the Lutheran Council in the USA - Jack Preus came to a 1971 annual meeting and tried to get me and my boss, the great Erik Modean, fired because we had covered the growing troubles in the LCMS. Jack had been on a "world tour" and because the LWF ran our stories, everyone he met asked him about the controversy, which was a story for us because it was causing the LCMS to break fellowship with the ALC.
   His efforts to get us canned failed.
   That night, Erik and I were in a booth near the bar of the Grammercy Park Hotel, when Jack and Milt Carpenter and another LCMS rep came in. They sat at the bar, and in a few minutes Jack left the bar and came to our table. Instantly - while I was preparing to run for cover - Jack and Erik began reminiscing and laughing about some of the "old days" (Erik had been around since the late 1950s) and some of the folks they both knew, including ALPB notable Ade Meyer.) That went on for about an hour and when the last round of drinks came, Jack had our tab put on his bill.
Having grown up in a political family, he knew that opponents in policy need not be deadly enemies. A lot of church folks don't know that.


Completely unrelated to church stuff, our son, living and working at a company in Seattle, has had to deal with a company in New Jersey. One of his co-workers (Korean-American,) wondered why those folks in New Jersey are so mad at them. Our son told him that they are not mad, that's just the way they talk. (He had had dealings with New Jersey at a previous job; and some of his co-workers were from there.)
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #84 on: October 28, 2021, 02:58:35 PM »

Fair, except that my larger point was that all too often when my church body is discussed broad labels like Heterodox etc. are tossed around.

Heterodox simply means that we believe the other is not teaching correctly. The ELCA considers the LCMS to be heterodox--we don't ordain women, we do not join in various ecumenical agreements, etc.--and the LCMS considers to the ELCA to be the same.


I don't recall that the ELCA in an assembly has declared the LCMS to be heterodox. I believe the LCMS has done that concerning the ELCA. I see women's ordination and ecumenicism as adiaphora; they are not issues of salvation. We can disagree and remain friends, like I am with some Roman Catholics - and we certainly have some disagreements about many different issues. They have worshiped with me in my congregation; and I've worshiped with them in theirs.

On the one hand, it can be said that the Synod merely acknowledged formally what most of us believed to be true. The resolution pointed to specific decisions of the ELCA as a church body, e.g. fellowship with the Reformed. The resolution also noted that many faithful Lutherans remained in the ELCA.

While I personally agree that the ELCA is not orthodox (as I understand Lutheran orthodoxy) I also felt it was unnecessary and not helpful for us to say so. Why say that of the ELCA and not any other Lutheran body in America and/or the world? We are not in altar and pulpit fellowship with the ELCA, that should say everything we need to say about our feelings towards its orthodoxy as a church body.


I readily admit and state publicly that the ELCA is the most liberal Lutheran denomination in America. I don't then say that all the others are less Lutheran or deficient in their faith. Frequently, someone will then ask, "What does that mean?" I'll state that we ordain women; most others Lutherans don't. While its likely all the others ordain homosexuals (perhaps unknowingly,) we recently have allowed homosexual clergy to be in same-sex relationships. Others do not allow that. We take a more critical view of Scriptures (and our confessions) than others allow.


I also don't require folks to agree with our positions and practices. I've had Wisconsin Synod folks join my congregation. (Even after they expressed their dislike for the ELCA congregation where they used to live.) We don't require individual members to agree with our Social Statements. We don't require them to agree with our practices. I had members state that they don't think women should be ordained some 40 years after we'd been ordaining them.


I've been mulling around the idea that what might set Christians apart from other folks is not how well we love our friends; but how well we treat our enemies - the people who disagree with us.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Richard Johnson

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #85 on: October 28, 2021, 03:01:57 PM »


Heterodox simply means that we believe the other is not teaching correctly. The ELCA considers the LCMS to be heterodox--we don't ordain women, we do not join in various ecumenical agreements, etc.--and the LCMS considers to the ELCA to be the same.

I don't think "heterodox" is in the ELCA lexicon.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #86 on: October 28, 2021, 03:04:39 PM »
On this point, my thinking is that the comments are less about NBW than about the supervision/supervisors in the ELCA.  NALC and particularly LCMC folks who are either no longer with the ELCA or are in protest have a major bone to pick with the ELCA about supervision/bishops from my conversations at least.  The denomination is "big tent" mainline Protestant, in one version.  Or the local leadership doesn't want to take a firm position in an area of concern received from the less progressive congregations.  They're paralyzed, and don't have the theologically structured resolutions or bylaws that encourage more active supervision.  Either way, it's more about how a person such as NBW is dealt with, or not dealt with, that underlies.  So the defensiveness is about being in a denomination that is apparently not equipped for doctrinal supervision. 


I had a bishop complain to me about how little power he actually had over semi-competent clergy.


I think in the same way, the LCMS had very little power over Herman Otten, who was also quite a public figure. (Although, probably not invited to speak at official LCMS functions.)


It was even more confusing when non-rostered folks were leading ELCA congregations. Bishops did not have disciplinary authority over non-rostered folks; although they had some authority over the congregations. However, I doubt that removing them from the ELCA would be seen as much of a disciplinary act. When it happened to the two congregations in San Francisco, they kept doing their ministries as they had been doing. They kept participating in conference and even synod activities as they had been doing before being "disciplined."
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dan Fienen

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #87 on: October 28, 2021, 03:42:01 PM »
It is obvious that the LCMS and the ELCA disagree about a great number of things, from doctrines, polity, approaches to Scripture and the Confessions, to ecumenism. What is not always considered is that we also often disagree about the relative importance of these matters. What one group may a matter of small importance, certainly not church dividing, the other may consider of great importance. One effect of this sometimes hidden disagreement is that it is discussion sometimes becomes difficult because they do not understand each others attitude about the discussion. Because one group considers something to be important that the other do not, the first group may be considered to be simply stubborn, arrogant, majoring in the minors, etc. And contrariwise, the first group may consider the second to lack earnestness about the faith. Both may have a point.


As in personal relationships, it is important for us to recognize and seek to understand what each other values and why. We may not agree on that valuation, but recognizing it saves much misunderstanding.




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Dan Fienen

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #88 on: October 28, 2021, 03:49:08 PM »
A couple of things that I learned in mediation training also apply here. People tend to overemphasize the importance of things that are important to them and underemphasize the importance of things that are important to others. They also tend to underestimate their own ability to cope, to change, and to accept less than they want without serious harm. And to also then over estimate what others can and should do along those lines. It's human nature not really a function of conservatives or liberals. The same applies to groups.
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Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Is the ALPB Forum Online a safe space?
« Reply #89 on: October 28, 2021, 03:49:29 PM »
It is obvious that the LCMS and the ELCA disagree about a great number of things, from doctrines, polity, approaches to Scripture and the Confessions, to ecumenism. What is not always considered is that we also often disagree about the relative importance of these matters. What one group may a matter of small importance, certainly not church dividing, the other may consider of great importance. One effect of this sometimes hidden disagreement is that it is discussion sometimes becomes difficult because they do not understand each others attitude about the discussion. Because one group considers something to be important that the other do not, the first group may be considered to be simply stubborn, arrogant, majoring in the minors, etc. And contrariwise, the first group may consider the second to lack earnestness about the faith. Both may have a point.

As in personal relationships, it is important for us to recognize and seek to understand what each other values and why. We may not agree on that valuation, but recognizing it saves much misunderstanding.

Agreed, Dan. As to the Christian idea that it's important how well we deal with those with whom we disagree, a good start would be intellectual honesty rather than sophistry.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2021, 04:07:39 PM by Donald_Kirchner »
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