Podcast Interview: Pastors4Pastors

I recently had the opportunity once again to appear on my friend Ken Broman-Fulks’s podcast, Pastors4Pastors. We had a lot of fun talking about the themes running through the essays in my book:

Most pastors either embrace our American holidays without question or try to ignore them and hope our congregations won’t notice, which they always do. Our conversation with James Calvin Davis, author of American Liturgy: Finding Theological Meaning in the Holy Days of US Culture, is both edifying and entertaining!

— Ken Broman-Fulks

You can listen here, or wherever podcasts live (including Amazon Music!) If you’re a visual person, you can watch the interview (which also includes two of our other Presbyterian friends) on YouTube.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Ken’s podcast to get notified of future episodes.

Conflict, Civility, and Roger Williams

For twenty years I’ve been writing and talking about civility, the public virtues necessary for a healthy democracy. My work on civility got its start in a dissertation and two subsequent books on Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island and the first American prophet for religious freedom.

Recently I enjoyed a rare opportunity to talk about his importance for a podcast called Multifaith Matters, which “explores various facets of loving God and multifaith neighbors through interviews with pastors, ministry leaders, and scholars” and “models neighborly multifaith conversations with members of various religious traditions.” The podcast is produced by Multi-Faith Matters dot org, an organization whose mission is to “help evangelicals fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments (love of God and neighbor) while maintaining faithfulness to evangelical convictions.” To achieve this, they facilitate dialogue and relationships among people of all faiths.

Roger Williams is known for his religious toleration, but he was also fiercely dogmatic, and his ability to hold together deeply held convictions and respect for others makes him an interesting case study for our time. In our conversation here, after a brief biographical sketch, I delve into Williams’s ideas about the Puritan establishment in Massachusetts, natural law, religious freedom, civility, and the proper relationship between church and society.

You can listen to the podcast here on its website, or via several other podcast platforms, including Spotify.

You can also watch the interview here!

“Six Practices” Podcast, Part 2

The second part of the episode “Six Practices that Can Unite Congregations in Times of Disagreement” is now available on the Pastors4Pastors podcast. (Part one can be found here.)

From the description:
In this second of a two-part episode we continue a conversation with James Calvin Davis, religion professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, Presbyterian minister, and the author of a book for just such a time as this: Forbearance: A Theological Ethic for a Disagreeable Church (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2017). Joining the conversation is the Rev. Leeann Scarbrough, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Talladega, Alabama.

Dr. Davis talks about the meaning of forbearance and the six practices that can lead us back to unity even in our disagreement. James is also the author of In Defense of Civility: How Religion Can Unite America on Seven Moral Issues That Divide Us (Westminster John Knox Press, 2010).

We are confident you will find this conversation helpful as you seek to bring unity to your congregation.

Six Practices that Can Unite Congregations

Tune into this episode of my good friend Ken Broman-Fulks’s podcast, Pastors4Pastors, as we talk about Forbearance and the challenges to maintaining community in church and civil society in these tumultuous times. Joining us in the conversation are two other good friends who also happen to be Presbyterian pastors. The Rev. Leeann Scarbrough serves a church in Alabama, and the Rev. Susan Takis pastors in The Villages, a gigantic Florida retirement community where political tensions have made national news.

By the way, some time ago I wrote a piece on the theological importance of friendship that was inspired by time spent with these three amazing people. Ken’s podcast just goes to show that there is some thoughtfulness to this group, to go along with the shared fondness for bourbon.

Part two of our conversation on Forbearance will drop next week!

Forbearance now available on Kindle

What happens when we approach disagreement not as a problem to solve but as an opportunity to practice Christian virtue?

In this book James Calvin Davis reclaims the biblical concept of forbearance to develop a theological ethic for faithful disagreement. Pointing to Ephesians and Colossians, in which Paul challenged his readers to “bear with each other” in spite of differences, Davis draws out a theologically grounded practice in which Christians work hard to maintain unity while still taking seriously matters on which they disagree.

The practice of forbearance, Davis argues, offers Christians a dignified, graceful, and constructive way to deal with conflict. Forbearance can also strengthen the church’s public witness, offering an antidote to the pervasive divisiveness present in contemporary culture.

“Forbearance. It’s an old-fashioned word, perhaps, but if ever we needed to recover its use, now is the time. Our politics and economics, our communities and churches, and even our families are fractured by polarizing disagreements that often grow into debilitating conflicts. In this discerning book James Calvin Davis deftly narrates the meanings, spirit, power, and practice of ‘bearing with one another’ as a fundamental Christian civic virtue, one that can lead us into ways of dealing with our conflicts that are marked by wisdom, justice, faithfulness, and hope.” –Craig Dykstra, Duke Divinity School

Forbearance: A Theological Ethic for a Disagreeable Church, Kindle Edition