Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Civil Public Square

Today I watched 4 episodes of Schaeffer's "How Shall We Then Live" in search of an elusive quotation, which I, unfortunately, didn't find! However, it was a good exercise in review and re-evaluation. And it dove-tailed in with the new Os Guinness book I started yesterday, "The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends On It."

Guinness is so right when he says:

It is time for Americans to reforge a civil public square... and then to debate such important issues as the uniqueness of humanity, the character of life and death, the importance of truth, the relationship between virtue and freedom, and what Gertrude Himmelfarb described as "the collapse of ethical principles and habits, the loss of respect for authorities and institutions, the breakdown of the family, the decline of civility, the vulgarization of high culture and the degradation of popular culture."

And my curiosity is piqued - I'm looking forward to exploring the difference between the dialogue approach and the covenant approach:

Crucially, we will see the difference between the common dialogue approach to civility, which I shall argue is attractive in the short run but finally ineffective, and the covenant approach, which alone holds the key to a worthwhile truce and a tough-minded civility.

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