Printed below are the dialogue questions for next Tuesday. I thought it important to provide these so you all had a little time to really reflect. III. Exercise 2 is a tough set of questions and especially important, so think about that one, if you think about any of them. If there are any clarification questions or input of your own that might help clarify that exercise for others, feel free to ask or post something.
II. Exercise 1: On a piece of paper write a thought or thoughts, opinion or opinions, about a religious or secular group. They can be about atheists, agnostics, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Pagans, Buddhists or Hindus – or they can be about your own group, kinds of atheists or Christians that, for example, are different from you as an atheist or Christian.
III. Exercise 2: Everyone will take turns offering her or his worldview. By worldview, I mean our overall interpretation of our experience of reality and the basis for that interpretation. This is a tough question, I know. To offer some guidance I suggest asking yourself three questions. First, what do you think are some of the most influential experiences or forces in your life? Is it a book, a person, a community, or a culture? Second, from where do you derive a sense of meaning in life, and why is that compelling for you? What are some of the terms or ideas that come to mind when you think about the meaning of life: Sin, reincarnation, love, redemption, democracy, or empowerment? Third, what do you consider the primary purpose or purposes to life, and why? A Christian might say God, or, to elaborate a little more: To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. Maybe it’s as simple as happiness, or the spread of freedom and democracy. The point is to explain what you mean: Simply saying that you have a Christian or secular worldview is insufficient. Elaborate! Each person should take no more than 4 or 5 minutes to do so. Watch the clock! You’ll have only 25 minutes for this exercise. After that, you’ll have a five-minute break.
IV. Exercise 3
A. Why do you think someone might think these things about a religious or secular group? How does the behavior of religious and secular folks seem to reinforce these thoughts and opinions? What other information might lead a person to think some of these things about a group?
B. Do you consider any of the thoughts or opinions unjustified? Why? Offer some evidence or reasoning. Put differently, what do you think definitely are stereotypes and why?
C. How and why do you think stereotypes develop?
D. What can be done to dismantle stereotypes?
E. How might your worldview lead to the stereotypes of others? Might your worldview offer any insight or advice with regards to stereotyping?
F. When listening to the worldviews of others, did anything surprise you, especially things that seem to contradict stereotypes?
G. In what ways are your worldviews similar and different? For examples, though one might believe in God and the other not, despite this difference what are some similarities? On the other hand, despite the fact that an atheist and theist might both have a strong passion for justice, in what way is the understanding of justice or what justice is different?
H. Discuss differences that are sources of tension that could and perhaps do lead to conflict.
I. Discuss similarities or continuities that could resolve conflict, or be the basis for agreement or cooperative work.