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November 3, 2020

Today’s Election and Tomorrow's Hope | An Essay by Dr. Andy Koehl


A message from President Porterfield:

This year our theme is God is Here. This has not changed, and will not change. Especially now, thank you for loving your neighbor, for modeling what it means to live in community with those who hold different opinions than you, and for responding with grace to those who are frustrated or upset. We are blessed to be members of a Christian community that knows God is present in every situation, and that speaks and acts in awareness of His presence.

Dr. Andy Koehl, Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Intellectual and Spiritual Humility Institute, has written a thoughtful essay that provides insights on how we can navigate this time and relate better to each other in the midst of these times. Please take a moment to reflect on eight practical ways he identifies for next steps in the days ahead. As we do, may we reflect the light of Christ to the world around us.

8 Insights from Andy Koehl's essay:

1. Pursue love and truth above all else. Let’s have a commitment to love and truth that supersedes any concern that “our side wins.” If we love genuinely and invite scrutiny of cherished beliefs, this integrity will bind us to those who think differently.

2. Commit to civility. Civility is savoring and strengthening the humanity of those with whom we disagree. We speak well of them, do not impugn their motives, and do not dismiss them with insults and stereotypes. Civility means being as kind to one another as we are serious about finding truth.

3. Reject means-end thinking. Those who do anything to promote their ends cannot achieve anything lasting. Throughout history, means-end thinking has delivered no permanent good, but only morally bankrupt societies saddled with hatred, division, and fear. We must love the right way as much as the right results.

4. Think for yourself. Most issues are complicated and no one person or party can be right all the time. Let’s take pride in our independence, thinking through each issue for ourselves. Let the partisan purists complain that we have betrayed them when we depart from the party line. We choose integrity over conformity.

5. Develop intellectual humility. Intellectual humility is a search for truth grounded in love, a recognition of our limitations, and the realization that smart, good-hearted people can disagree. Along with other virtues like empathy, patience, and courage, it is a strong defense against manipulation and polarization.

6. Examine your biases and think more clearly. Make a habit of uncovering your own biases, motives and mistakes. Become familiar with fallacies and psychological quirks, how they impact our thinking and are used against us. For real progress in discussions, find a discrete issue, agree on what good evidence would be, and then look for it together, sharing sources and facts. Small successes encourage more dialogue.

7. Seek out opposing viewpoints, empathize, and explore shared values. Spend time with those who think differently, ask about their feelings and stories, and imagine experiencing the world as they do. Everyone wants to feel respected and heard, and this sets us free to explore evidence together and reflect on what we have in common. Everyone cares about their families and wants America to be strong, prosperous, and just. We share many of the same fears and hopes, so let’s explore them together.

8. Focus on what transforms.  Let’s not be so fixated on our problems that we lose sight of the transforming vision of God. Everything we long for has its beginnings and endings in him. God is Truth, Beauty, Justice, Love. We are “anxious and troubled about many things,” but in God’s presence is rest, insight and transformation.

Read the full essay.

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