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Civil Discourse

By December 3, 2016 2 Comments

by Rebecca Koerselman
Experiences inside and outside of the classroom have taught me that most people are interested in telling you what they think and why, not listening to hear what others have to say.

My experiences in the college and high school classrooms have shown me that young people have opinions, but are fairly open to hearing new ideas and learning different perspectives. As we get older, we seem to become more interested in “sharing” our wisdom and less interested in gaining more of it by listening and understanding others.

I find the role of civil discourse, an honest exchange of ideas where people listen to better understand each other, a rare event. Instead, I see and hear people talking past each other, insulting each other, and ignoring each other, both inside the church and outside of it. In the words of one my colleagues, “if you aren’t God, there’s a good chance you are wrong about something.” As a teacher and as a follower of Christ, we are called to engage the world we live in. While it has been a struggle to figure out how to live in the world, and yet not of the world, there are many faithful believers who take the challenge of civil discourse seriously.

Thankfully we have a great community of Reformed thinkers, writers, and readers who practice this form of civil discourse. Some even write for The Twelve, some read and comment on The Twelve, and some read and contribute to Perspectives.

Our society is in need of those who can exercise civil discourse. Please consider a financial contribution to The Twelve. It engages society and strives to model what a real civil discourse looks like. The writers and contributors certainly don’t agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean we can’t respect each other and reflect the hospitality and understanding that God calls us to demonstrate as followers of Christ.

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Rebecca Koerselman teaches history at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

Rebecca Koerselman

Rebecca Koerselman teaches history at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA.


  • debmechler says:

    Thank you, Rebecca, for thoughtfully describing the way things are too often. I am among those who are initiating intentional spaces for civil discourse. If you want guidance, Krista Tippett’s “On Being” website has a “Civil Conversations Project” that includes selected podcasts to discuss. What is really helpful is the guide written by her and her staff. You can find it under “Act” on the CCP page. Really good stuff, so those of us who are getting involved don’t have to start from scratch. Keep up the great work, you and all of the writers for The Twelve.

    • Rebecca Koerselman says:

      Thanks for this tip, Deb! I’ve been listening to Krista Tippett’s “On Being” podcasts, but did not know about the “Civil Conversations Project” – I’ll be sure to integrate that into my course material.
      And, of course, thanks for reading and participating in this version of civil discourse here on The Twelve

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