Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

What I Saw at Saturday's Discussion

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2011 Nov 21

Posted by Jim_Daly Nov 19, 2011




It is in the act of discussion, suggested the late Christian writer C.S. Lewis, that you rouse the patient's reason.

And when such a deliberation is approached thoughtfully and pointedly on a stage, you awaken the senses and stir the hearts of the audience, too. 

This is precisely what occurred in Iowa at the first Thanksgiving Family Forum. Hosted by the Iowa Family Policy Center’s political arm, The Family Leader, and co-sponsored by Citizenlink and the National Organization for Marriage, the forum showed America something that almost always gets lost in presidential politics: candidates are real, regular people who face the same challenges in life as the rest of us.

Saturday's discussion was a refreshing departure from the typical and trite exchanges that are the usual fare in the long build-up to Election Day. Meeting around a table much like the one found in the average American home, the candidates were able to enjoy natural conversation and develop sincere responses to questions. In doing so, they talked about deeply personal issues, including their respective philosophies of governance and their perspective of how faith intersects with their individual callings to public life.

With over 80% of Americans identifying themselves as Christians, millions of people will resonate with the candidate's personal stories of faith. We heard testimonies and saw tears. We heard about heartache and loss, tragedy and triumph. We heard inspiring reflections about dreams and disappointments - and observed a unified appreciation and love for the United States of America.

As I watched the conversation unfold, deftly moderated by respected pollster, Frank Luntz, I was reminded again about that universal "ought" in every person, that God-breathed habit to continuously examine our own lives and strive to realize those desired “oughts” - whether it is to seek wisdom, grow in patience or develop a more selfless attitude, to list just a few important characteristics of strong leadership.

Saturday's forum provided insights and clues into the presence or absence of those non-negotiable "oughts" we're looking for in a president. Equally important, the exchange helped us see the very human side of the person who may be called upon to assume the responsibilities of an almost super human job.

Somebody once said that in a heated argument we're apt to lose sight of the truth. Perhaps that's another reason why this afternoon's forum will, I believe, prove especially helpful in the coming months. We were pleased to help sponsor the evening. We understand no political process is perfect, but it is encouraging to see civil and substantive conversation about such critically important topics.

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