ELC Adult Ed: “The Soul of Politics”

Faithful Conversations: “The Soul of Politics” 

We are a publicly engaged church that rolls up our sleeves and gets to work. We do God’s work in the world, the work of restoring and reconciling communities. We pursue justice and seek peace no matter how long the journey or wide the chasm. Because we are grounded in God’s love and forgiveness, we are well equipped to live and serve here and now, in the world, with all its complexities, tensions, and ambiguities.
(Source:  ELCA Website: “Our Work”)

We are living in a time of great division in 2022-23. Polling indicates that millions of citizens believe another civil war will likely occur within the next few years. As ELCA Christians, what role do we have to play in our churches, communities, and nation in the face of various issues dividing people? Can we be purveyors of hope and healing within our communities?

In this 4-session study, we will place our present moment in context by exploring our history, with a special emphasis on interpreting that history through the lens of Christianity.

Screencasts for Each Session
Suggested Readings
Session 1 Screencast:

Where Are We Politically in 2022?  

(Note: Reflect on the chart in link #1 on the right prior to the second session. What is the appropriate role for churches within the political environment? The other readings will further your understanding of several things mentioned in the screencast.)

Links 2, 3, and 4 are readings that supplement the screencast and provide points of reflection for you as we get started.  

1.  The Role of the Church in a Divided Society

2. Facing Divisive Issues in the Beloved Community (Living Lutheran)

3. The Seven Political States of Wisconsin

4. The Paranoid Style in American Politics (A discussion of Hofstadter’s classic essay)

Session 2 Screencast:

What Did the Framers Create? How Are We Doing? 

Link #1 is a diagram to help you with some of the history of the founding period coming out of the Revolution. The Revolution was a complex event and we certainly did not come out of it completely unified.  Many of the arguments that we continue to have today started right there!  

Link #2 is an excellent commentary from historian David McCullough concerning our knowledge (or lack thereof) regarding the Founding Fathers of our nation.  

1. Politics in the Early Republic (Diagram)

2. Do We Understand the Founders? 
(McCullough Commentary)

Session 3 Screencast:
Personal Politics and the Role of Parties

Link #1 is instructive for understanding the various “party systems” in our history — how the two parties have evolved from the beginning of the republic through roughly the Reagan years. 

Link #2 is Schlesinger’s classic essay. I am using his analysis as a way of thinking about the middle ground (or “vital center”) in our political system, even though his analysis was of the middle ground between Communism and Fascism. 

1 .The Evolution of the Two-Party System

2. Schlesinger and the “Vital Center”

Session 4:  The Media Environment and Its Impact

Link #1 is from Pew Research and offers important information on “Trust in Government” from 1958-2022. 

Link #2 is a reflective essay regarding our role as citizens living in a democratic republic. 



1. Pew Research: Trust in Government

2. The Citizen’s Role in a Democracy