There we sat: a Christian pastor, a Catholic, a Mormon and three atheists – six people with opposing views about hot topics in American politics.
How did the room feel? Energized - no yelling, some laughter, lots of listening and a whole bunch of questions. But so what? Why is this scene even worth a mention?
In the pervasive political hostility of contemporary America, many people have resigned themselves to accept that permanent division - an ongoing absence of productive conversation across political divides - is just the way things are. And little wonder. It's hard to find any venues these days in which those with different social and political views can actually meet each other, at least for anything other than head-on confrontation or festering mutual suspicion.
When you combine the power dynamics involved, the media magnification of conflicts and the underlying influence of moneyed interests, it's difficult to imagine anything really changing between political opponents.