Post-Debate Fast: Keeping Our Mouth Shut

The Exercise:

Refuse to use the following words: Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, left, right, idiot, stupid, etc. (you can probably add some of your own).

The Why:

Already Facebook and Twitter, water coolers and drive time radio are buzzing about the Vice Presidential debate.  Unfortunately, the reactions are mostly predictable and lend themselves to further polarization and easy ideologies.  Christians have a better way, a way that calls us to truth, but truth that only makes sense within the context of Love.  In our churches and Christian communities, places where we understand that electoral politics offer no salvation, we should refuse to get caught up in the half-truths, false salvations, and idol kingdoms offered to us through national politics.

David Dark in his excellent book The Gospel According to America suggests that for us to really begin to get at the truth we must discipline our language so that we no longer use easy short cut words such as left and right, liberal and conservative.  These words usually carry very little content and meaning, and more often than not help us to preserve our mental status quo rather than truly engaging with an issue through authentic dialogue.   By refusing to use these easy words we’ve already made a step toward a deeper truth.  God’s kingdom come.


About Ragan Sutterfield

Ragan Sutterfield is a writer and Episcopal seminarian sojourning from his native Arkansas in Alexandria, Virginia. He is the author of Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us, Farming as a Spiritual Discipline and a contributor to the book Sacred Acts: How churches are working to protect the Earth’s climate. Ragan’s articles and essays have appeared in a variety of magazines including Triathlete, The Oxford American, and Books & Culture. He works to live the good life with his wife Emily and daughter Lillian.

  • revdocliz

    My lips are sealed!

  • Greg

    “Strive as hard as you can to love every man. If you cannot yet do this, at least do not hate anybody.” St. Maximos the Confessor

  • Elizabeth

    I would add no referring to people with a nickname, like Barry.

  • Laura Brown

    A good book on this subject, the stewardship of language, is “Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies” by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre.