Forum Failure?

I hereby declare the ongoing Friday night forums both a success and a failure. So far this Summer, we have talked in depth about just about everything except abortion and the death penalty.. Don't worry everyone, I'm sure we can "get there" eventually, if we choose to. Last night was exciting and engaging, with many people talking.

We shared emotions, engaged in rational debate and once in awhile we even used humor. In short, once again, we had a blast beginning with the food and ending after 11pm when the last few folks left. I was actually proud that rather than stop our discussions and race home(or stop and turn on the TV right in front of us) to watch John Stossels segment on healthcare at 10pm, we instead chose to keep talking and learning about one another.

Since one of our central themes emerged around Entertainment as Idolatry and our cultures' dependence and addiction to a constant stream of entertainment of all kinds, this was appropriate. We stayed focused on one another, rather than going into "download mode" to get our daily fix of managed message/entertainment. We explored James 1:27, and John 15:5-8 for guidance on intentionality versus outcome as a success factor for living.

Our discussion content included FUN, socialization of homeschool children, Pros and Cons of living solely in an RV "off the grid", Racism and the fairness of affirmative action as a concept not a policy, and a lot of what it takes to keep us connected and actually loving one another. We reviewed Bonhoeffer's commentary on human love versus spiritual love from Life Together, and we again discussed the Americanism framework set forth by Glenn Beck in his 912 principles and values.

All of that said, we have yet to actually establish the dialogue of diversity that I hope for. The forum is so far a failure when it comes to actually attracting people of different ideologies to actual discussion. The attendees are far from unified in our perspectives, theology and ideology but we have been largely conservative, white and pretty "well to do". In this our forum is a failure. Even by leading with the concept of American civility and the arts, and civil discourse, and openly working through the ideas of diversity, our group just hasn't been all that diverse. So we are indeed a failure so far, but the Summer is not over, and maybe, just maybe, that could change.

I have many friends, in many places and my background is filled with tremendous diversity. I remain hopeful, that they are learning from one another even if they aren't "in the room". When we tried to summarize what it actually means to be an American I agreed with Melanie that it is mostly about a sense of individualism and freedom coupled with confidence in ourselves.

We as Americans must realize that our freedom is powerful and has come at great cost, but it is indeed a great burden. When you are free, you are on your own in this big bad world. It is up to you to stand up to the government, the churches, the PTA, and even the omnipresent media on your own. It is so much easier to just go along and submit to the rule of law, jungle, club, and even church. (note that the rule of church is a very different concept from either personal or corporate religion) What does being American mean beyond freedom, I'm not sure I can get any farther.. I love my country. I believe in freedom and personal accountability. I do indeed fear that I am watching it dissolve around me due to the free will of the people. We are choosing to give it up for the supposed "greater good". These are indeed extraordinary times.

"I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died and gave that right to me. I'll gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
For there ain't no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA."

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