Civility: The Problem of Being Nice

By Diana Butler Bass 05-18-2010

In March, I signed The Civility Covenant issued by the folks at Sojourners. Believe it or not, the Civility Covenant wound up being somewhat controversial as critics from both the political right and left attacked the document. From the left, commenters said that calls for civility are nothing more than tactics to protect white male privilege. From the right, pundits claimed that it was a whitewash to cover up conservative dissent and a cover for heresy. At least one signer was forced to withdraw his name from the document because of theological pressure to do so from his denomination.

In a recent episode from God Complex Radio, Bruce Reyes-Chow (the Moderator of the PCUSA) and Carol Howard Merritt (author, pastor, and Huffington Post blogger) interview me on the pitfalls, politics, and personal struggles of civility and niceness -- including a discussion of internet nastiness and how not to respond in public arguments. There's good material about the difference between graciousness and civility, as well as a somewhat embarrassing public confession that will, I promise, make you laugh.

You can listen or download to "Diana Butler Bass on Civility and Graciousness" by clicking here.

portrait-diana-butler-bassDiana Butler Bass blogs at Christianity for the Rest of Us and The Huffington Post, and is the author of A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story. This article is cross-posted from Beliefnet.

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