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Civility in Public Discourse

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“Whose side are you on?"

“Whose side are you on? Are you with them or are you with us?” 

Joining A Community of Practice

In April 2006, I was a teenager at home watching the CBC News as they reported from a land dispute in Caledonia, Ontario. On the screen, a reporter talked about escalating tensions between townspeople and the Indigenous protestors who had taken over a development site that lay between the town and the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve. Behind the reporter a tire fire blazed. I looked through our living room window and I could see the billowing black smoke over the houses and trees. It was surreal to me that my hometown was national news. 

Living Surprisingly in Times of Division

As I write this, it’s just a couple of hours after the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and call an election.  I know that elections come with a lot of partisan silliness that can cause us to groan and slip into cynicism and apathy. But as people of hope, rooted in Christ, it’s important to buck the trend of political cynicism, to be surprising by being hopeful, even grateful.  Visible gratitude for the opportunity to act as citizens for the good of our communities is counter-cultural in an age of cynicism.

God’s Love is not limited by Legal Status

Part 5 in the Seeing Beyond the Immigration Rhetoric series.


I met Jorge (name changed) at the Newton Correctional Facility, where my husband and I planted a church 8 years ago. Jorge came to the United States from Guatemala. Unfortunately, Jorge’s life took a turn for the worse and he ended up in prison.

An Election Budget, Wild Times, and a Call to Prayer

Political pundits and partisans often use the annual budget announcement as an opportunity to evaluate a government – to sing its virtues or to decry its follies. Many civil society organizations, like the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue and our partners, also watch the budget announcement closely to evaluate progress on justice priorities. Budgets are moral documents, after all, revealing the priorities of our nation and our leaders.

From Soundbites to Discernment

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat—there are a plethora of social media platforms used by stay-at-home moms and celebrities, private citizens and elected officials alike to communicate opinions, beliefs, statements, facts, untruths, popular myths, and more. Then we have regular news sources apart from social media including BBC, CNN, Fox News, CBS, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Blaze—an amalgam of news sources with talking heads and op-ed pieces that launch information, news stories, and soundbites endlessly our way.

#CRClistens: 9 Tips for Entering & Sticking with Tough Dialogue

Often the toughest conversations offer the most important learning. Sometimes the conversations we work hardest to avoid, we most need to enter. Tough conversations can be hard to navigate and risky. So how do we “go there” in a healthy way?

Below are some tips for entering and staying with tough dialogue, drawn from 20 years of work in Dialogue Education. Tough dialogue ought not be feared, but can bear gifts to those who dare the journey. Which of these tips best offers a way for you to stay longer in tough dialogue?

#CRClistens: Why We Need Robert's Rules

Ultimately within discussion and debate a person's goal is to get to the place where they can say of their challenger "we're talking the same language.". Two parties may disagree ultimately, yet there can be grace in the midst of a conversation because people are wrestling within the same parameters.

#CRClistens: The Problem with All or Nothing

Writing on dialogue and respect for the "other side" has its challenges. As much as I’d like to think I’m adaptable, I bring biases to a task like this. Like any biases, mine are formed by experience – my professional interest and personal passion is to offer a Christian vision of hope and justice in the diverse and complex world of public policy and citizenship. Long experience and hard lessons in that game have formed these basic bents:
• we peer through a glass darkly;
• we are called to faithfulness and not necessarily success; and

#CRClistens: Learning to be Gospel People

A number of years ago, a group of us asked our Indigenous elders about their often demonstrated dedication and faithfulness, “How did you do this? How do you do this?” We struggled to get people to attend meetings and even worship, much less to get involved in leadership. For our own work as leaders, we were overwhelmed by the alternating emotion of our meetings, veering from intense mediocrity and boredom to frustrated anger and conflict.

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