These are days of harsh political rhetoric. Political factions insist not only on the goodness of their own ideas but also on the dramatic failure of their opponents' ideas. We might be in Advent, but this is no season for understanding or for mutual forbearance in our civil discourse.
The Christian church doesn't do much better than the rest of the culture. We would rather be divided than find the common space and faith that would unite us. Insistent as we are about the rectitude of our own ways, we hardly offer the world a model for reconciliation. Perhaps we are simply following the political models of our times—or perhaps we are finally getting what we thought we wanted: a culture in which the church is leading the way.
I teach and engage students who are preparing for ministry—some in the faith traditions in which they have been raised, some in traditions that are new to them, and some who insist that they belong to no tradition at all.