The following text will be published as a “My Turn” column in the October 4, 2023 issue of the Capital-Democrat, a local newspaper serving Sioux County in Iowa.
In our increasingly tribalistic us-versus-them culture, in which so many Americans believe that “me and my people” (e.g., my Church, my religious denomination, my political party, my circle of friends) have captured the complete truth about any controversial issue and “those other folks” have captured none of that truth, it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince anyone that there may be a contrary belief that differs from the story my people tell.
A glaring example of this problem is a claim made by Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina, a Republican presidential hopeful for 2024. Scott asserts, based on his own experience, that everyone in America, independent of race/ethnicity and gender, has an equal opportunity to realize the American dream of forging a successful life in America.
But there is another side to that story.
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As of July 31, our ecumenical conversation on what highly regarded representatives of twelve Christian traditions believe worshippers in their traditions mean when they aspire to be “followers of Jesus” has been completed. One of our conversation partners (CPs), Randall Balmer of Dartmouth College, my very helpful consultant for this project, concluded that “the year-long conversation was a smashing success.”
As indicated in the “Overview” document that can be accessed below, the next step for this project is to capture the highlights of this conversation in a book that is tentatively titled “Following Jesus: Perspectives from Twelve Christian Traditions.” A first draft of this book is close to completion.
My current plan is to submit a Book Proposal to one or more potential Christian publishing houses by early October. I will let readers of this website know the results of this publishing exploration.
Twelve Month Electronic Conversation starting on August 1, 2021
Following Jesus: Perspectives from Diverse Christian Traditions
Moderator: Harold Heie
Twelve Month Agenda
Leading Question for the first of the month (Directed to the conversation partner for the tradition being featured for the month)
What are the various views of those who worship in your tradition as to what it means to “follow Jesus” and what is the primary view?
Leading Question for the 15th of the month postings (Directed to the other eleven conversation partners)
What major agreements and disagreements do you have with the views expressed in the posting of the conversation partner who submitted the first of the month posting as to what it means to “follow Jesus,” and what have you learned from that posting that has the potential to enrich, or possibly provide a corrective, to the primary view of those who worship in your tradition as to what it means to “follow Jesus?”
Leading Question for the final day of the month posting (Directed to the conversation partner being featured for the month)
As you review the eleven 15th of the month postings from the other conversation partners, what were the main things you learned from other traditions that will be helpful to those who worship in your tradition as they seek to faithfully follow Jesus into the future