A concern I have about my own side is, what the main activists in the pro-life or anti-abortion community want is an overturn of Roe vs. Wade. I am not at all convinced that if that were to actually happen that they would like the world that they would see on the other side.
Abortion very late in pregnancy, abortion of disabled fetuses, these to me are very, very complicated questions. Even though I don’t think fetuses have an absolute right to life, I think fetuses have value. And I don’t think you can make the fetus invisible.
No issue in America is more intractable than abortion. Or is it? A conversation with long-time reproductive rights activist Frances Kissling and Christian ethicist David Gushee that doesn’t begin or end in the predictable places.
What I found more surprising than the NASCAR stats, though, was the abject shock from my green friends when I shared the information. It is precisely these kinds of ‘purple issues,’ combining the interests of Blue and Red States alike that will allow us to find the compromises (that’s right, I used the c-word) we need to break political deadlock and take effective action to solve some of society’s biggest problems.
NASCAR Green is purple precisely because it is ‘oxymoronic.’ It highlights common ground, letting us come out from behind the barricades to see the other side as having merit and something to contribute to the solution. As the national political parties continue hammering away at each other’s differences, these purple issues give us a chance to play off our shared values.
This week’s show on the future of marriage is one of those conversations that we believe adds to our collective imagination and understanding of how to work through the difficult issue of same-sex marriage. Jonathan Rauch and David Blankenhorn came to the “gay marriage debate” from two, predictable opposing sides — but with an equal desire to strengthen marriage. They’re pursuing another way to talk about this difficult issue, and others, with civility and honesty.
Please listen in and share with your friends. We’d love to hear your feedback and wonder if the way these two men engage each other might possibly be a model for the rest of us to talk about other difficult issues with sincerity and openness.
Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-Dialogue: A Civil Conversations Project Live Event with Frances Kissling and David Gushee (video)
when: Wed, Sep 26th, 2012 (3pm CST/4pm EST)
where: Humphrey School of Public Affairs, U of Minnesota
Discuss with others and ask your questions here:
Today Krista Tippett hosts the second of four live public events of The Civil Conversations Project (CCP). Krista’s guests at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs are Frances Kissling and David Gushee.
They belong to a constellation of reproductive choice and rights activists who are exploring real relationship with their political opposites. These encounters are scarcely imaginable against the backdrop of the absolute poles that frame better-publicized confrontation. David Gushee, who opposes abortion, has written this:
"Our legal stalemate about abortion is like a football game, with the two rival teams pushing each other back and forth across the 50-yard line and neither team able to win — especially if winning is defined by either the total banning of abortion on the one side or its unhindered legalization and funding as a routine health care practice on the other. The pro-life and pro-choice establishments appear committed to the continuation of this game of smash-mouth abortion football until the end of time. It is quite a spectacle, but the legal struggle is actually a distraction from the unresolved cultural and moral issues that have created it."
This civil conversation will start there — with what is really at stake — and break out of the confines and categories of the usual debates.
Please be part of this. Submit questions to our guests, and participate in our live video stream.
The Civil Conversations Project: In the Room with Gabe Lyons and Jim Daly (live video and interactive chat)
when: Wed, Sep 12th, 2012 (6pm CST/7pm EST)
where: Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, U of Minnesota
We kick off our second season of The Civil Conversations Project (CCP) with four live, public events. This Wednesday at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Krista speaks with Gabe Lyons, author of The Next Christians, and Jim Daly, Jim Dobson’s successor at Focus on the Family. They are bringing a new imagination and defy stereotypes of religious — specifically Christian, Evangelical – America that flourish in an election year. And they represent the way this significant swath of American religiosity continues to evolve. Please be part of this. Learn more on the CCP site, submit questions to our guests, and participate in our live video streams.
Discuss with others and ask your questions here:
Being Vulnerable Before Others and Sharing New Visions of Life
by Krista Tippett, host
Frances Kissling and Asma Khader listen to Azar Nafisi deliver her introductory remarks at “Challenges of Change: Religion, Secularism & Rights” event in which women leaders from Africa, North and South America, Asia, and the Middle East discuss the challenges of accommodating diversity while striving for human rights. (photo courtesy of the Women’s Learning Partnership)
I know that this week’s interview will be heard, by some at least, as a show about abortion. Frances Kissling, after all, is a name synonymous with “pro-choice.” And of course this show touches on the ins and outs of the issue of abortion, for this is the sphere in which she has distinguished herself for over a quarter century. But the revelation of this conversation is how much Frances Kissling has learned, precisely in one of the most entrenched and contested moral values spaces in our public life, about grappling with difference.
Hers is a story of holding passionate convictions and of being open to change — a both/and, not an either/or. It is a story of unfolding wisdom about human and social change, wrested from inside the abortion debate.
Practical tools emerge from this conversation that could calm and enrich our public life on all kinds of fronts if we began to cultivate them right now. Like my former guest Richard Mouw who grapples with difference on the conservative side of same-sex marriage and abortion, Frances Kissling is eloquent about the value of the “simple” act of listening to different others and gaining some sense of why they believe the way they do, how they came to that, where their hopes and fears lie, and what they mean when they use the words they do. Echoing Richard Mouw, Frances Kissling insists that doing this is not an act of giving up the ground on which we stand. But, she insists, when we genuinely listen, “good things come of that.” New possibilities emerge that we couldn’t imagine or meet before.
And though Frances Kissling is more a politician and philosopher than a poet, she reminds me of Elizabeth Alexander when she describes the ground of these possibilities largely in terms of the questions she and others begin to be able to ask of themselves: What can I see that is good in the position of the other? What troubles me in my own position? She speaks of the courage to be vulnerable in front of those with whom we passionately disagree.
As she and I discuss, being vulnerable before others holding different opinions than ourselves is exacting for human beings in the best of times. In the atmosphere of fear that pervades our political and social divides now, it can seem impossible — literally asking too much of us humans who are biologically hard-wired to find the open questions and conflict of a moment like this almost unbearably stressful. Frances Kissling and those she has encountered on the opposite “side” of this excruciatingly charged debate show us that there are ways out. They begin with human relationship, with new conversations that lead to new visions of life graciously shared and difference peaceably navigated even while we continue to disagree.
Before we finished producing this show, we reached out to David Gushee, a Christian ethicist on the “pro-life” end of the abortion debate whom Frances Kissling mentions in terms of this new relationship. Within two days, he wrote an essay for us titled "Sacred Conversations," which we offer as an immensely rich addition to the experience of this particular show.
As always, we welcome your perspectives, reactions, and your stories as we reach the midway point of our series on widening and deepening our Civil Conversations Project.