This book is a collection of essays printed in the Abilene Reporter News, the daily newspaper for Abilene, Texas. These essays are less about expressing the author's opinions and more about widening the discussion. Political, social, and religious issues are too often discussed in the simplest possible terms, usually with a predetermined slant. Most readers go about looking for information and opinions that coincide with what they already believe. When it comes to issues that affect us personally, we rarely listen or read in order to gather new information or get a broader perspective. We are looking for confirmation, but seeking only confirmation simply solidifies our opinions. These essays seek to add some needed complexity to how we approach important topics, emphasizing, "it's never that simple."
The articles are divided into four categories:Words matter.
These essays address our civil discourse, our use of language on a personal and national level to hurt or to heal. Words are our most powerful tools, and how they are used in personal communication and international diplomacy has enormous consequence.Family, loss, and life's uncertainties.
Our families and our personal lives and losses offer the most immediate crucible for teachable moments. We learn our most valuable lessons not when things are going well, but when things are falling apart. These essays address these teachable moments in parenthood, in the face of loss, and when confronting life's uncertainties.Inclusiveness and diversity.
Our culture continues its slow and painful move toward greater inclusiveness and acknowledment of the diversity that already exists, but not without hostility and resistance from many who are fearful of this change. Legal and social steps have been made toward racial, gender, and sexual equality, but the forces of majority privilege continue to push back.The uneasy alliance of Christianity and politics.
As our nation has become more diverse, Chrisitanity has had to cede some of it long-held privilege in the public forum. Our current administration has forged an unlikely alliance with the Christian right which has made the historic separation between church and state less clear. These essays address contemporary issues that provide opportunties to broaden the conversation on current topics. Conversation and dialogue provide us as individuals and as a country with the chance to more fully understand our experience and our neighbors rather than to become increasingly entrenched and polarized.