If you go
What: Exploring the Sacred public discussion, “Overcoming Divisiveness,” with local religious leaders of various faiths
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library
Call: 846-8504 for more information
Steamboat Springs A public seminar about divisiveness will coincide with an election about one of the most contentious local issues in recent memory.
So if debate about the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation has you feeling a little vexed Tuesday, head over to Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library for an Exploring the Sacred discussion, “Overcoming Divisiveness,” beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Marchele and Tim McCarthy have been organizing and presenting their Exploring the Sacred events for several years to “address critical issues related to finding meaning in the world,” according to event advertising. The McCarthys will moderate Tuesday’s discussion, which could feature as many as seven local religious leaders of various faiths.
The scheduled panel includes Associate Pastor Tim Selby, of United Methodist Church; Bishop Emeritus Paul Stewart, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Rabbi Joseph Goldman, of the Jewish Congregation of Steamboat; Sister Faith Hansen, of Holy Name Catholic Church; Steve Aigner, practitioner of Islam; Tim Olmsted, of the Buddhist Center of Steamboat; and Pastor Jason Clark, of the First Baptist Church of Steamboat.
Four of those leaders gathered at Rex’s American Grill and Bar on Thursday afternoon to talk about the event and the issue. Much of their conversation about divisiveness focused on political activity in Washington, D.C., and how the tenor of partisan debate affects citizens nationwide.
“We’ll take stupid legislative issues and turn them into death battles when they’re not,” Selby said. “There are places where you need to butt heads and battle; there are other places to recognize common humanity.”
Selby, Clark, Aigner and Olmsted agreed that such recognition is central to civil, constructive debate.
“You can have differing opinions without being divisive,” Clark said. The pastor said he teaches members of his congregation to be “Godly with your communication,” regardless of the form. Whether you are talking with someone in person, on the phone, via e-mail or in other media, Clark said, remembering the principles of your faith is critical.
The challenge arises, Olmsted said, when multiple participants in a conversation all have opposing viewpoints and each participant thinks they, and not the others, are absolutely correct.
“How are we going to get through that logic?” Olmsted asked, referring to potential questions on that line Tuesday.
Approaches to such a situation differ and are being played out in Steam
boat Springs, where Steamboat 700 has fueled passionate debate.
All present Thursday said they have not witnessed anger or shrill tones about the issue in face-to-face conversations among their congregants or peers, despite differing opinions. But they acknowledged that in some forums — including comments attached to stories on the Pilot & Today’s Web site — the Steamboat 700 conversation has been less than civil.
Selby said Tuesday’s event could help create a model for constructive local discourse.
“(Tuesday’s event) is an opportunity for people to air their views,” Tim McCarthy said.