Review of Christian Civility in an Uncivil World

Note: This review was published in the November 29, 2009 issue of The Post & Courier. The reviewer the Rev. Robert M. Knight, pastor of First Christian Church of Charleston.

Christian Civility in an Uncivil WorldMitch Carnell, a lay leader at Charleston’s historic First Baptist Church, is concerned about a lack of civility in public affairs and church life. His concern has led him to edit an insightful book called “Christian Civility in an Uncivil World.”

The essays are written by notable church leaders representing various Christian traditions. John Gehring and Alexia Kelley are Roman Catholic laypersons who write about mediating and modulating too much inflammatory rhetoric and negotiating the politics of the church they know and love.

The Rev. Sally Dyck, bishop of the United Methodist Church, Minnesota Conference, draws on a distinctive Wesleyan tradition she terms “Holy Conferencing.” Dyck outlines an approach to negotiating and problem-solving designed to minimize the unfortunate consequences of a church life reduced to “winners” and “losers.” She has adapted this approach from Methodism’s founder John Wesley.

Another bishop, the Rev. Stacy Sauls of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, Ky., who is also an attorney, writes with notable pastoral sensitivity concerning the conflict in the church he loves and serves surrounding the matter of one’s sexual orientation.
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Proud Of My Dad

Say Something Nice - Be A LifterMy father is being persecuted, and I am so proud of him for it! My dad, in an effort to increase civility in society, has started a movement called “Say Something Nice.” That doesn’t mean to lie, whitewash or ignore the bad, it basically just means to approach everything with a positive attitude and try to build people up instead of tear them down. This started after constantly hearing from his school teacher wife how ugly the tone of all interactions between her students in high school was. He then really started listing to all social interactions around him and decided that things had taken an ugly turn. So, we need to be more positive, enabling, and enouraging. Basic good stuff right? Well not according to some. Read this article in the Florida Baptist Witness and you will see what I mean.

I think some people are missing an awful lot here. Everything from “love thy neighbor as they self” right on down to the reasons why so many churches are losing members. It is amazing to me that anyone would want to hear about how damned they are constantly. And they wonder why no one wants to hear their message….