Faith, spirituality, and public life

Faith, spirituality, and public life


good afternoon I’m Tom katsu Elias your provost and chief academic officer and it’s my great honor to welcome you on behalf of the University of Virginia to this special event it is great to have senator Kaine here a longtime friend of the University and one who has been a leader in our democracy from the city level to the state level to the national and international level level you know the senator senator drive you’re easy to find you know I was looking at the program and I noted that you know you’re important when there’s more time devoted to your welcomes than there is left for you to actually speak sorry to say and I’m responsible for part of that but but welcome and welcome to old Kyle Hall and and this special this special place behind the screen is a wonderful copy of the portrait of the School of Athens and you see Plato pointing up and Aristotle pointing down representing the intellectual debate between the bands the demands of heaven and the demands of the real world it is that that debate is as ancient as democracy itself and I’m excited to see it explored in the context of modern society in the program today an animating theme of the university since its founding has been the belief that the exploration of all truths natural and theological were essential to preparing citizen leaders for a functioning democracy as our university begins its third century a wide range of schools and centers at the university are working hard to build on their strengths in research researching teaching and acting on making our democracy more effective and more equitable they’re committing committed to doing and that doing that in a global context and committed to focusing on issues close to home and they are committed to collaborating across disciplines and schools to address Grand Challenges Grand Challenge questions for society that exactly the best from our talented faculty staff and students president Ryan and I are committed to pulling together and supporting all the democracy facing units of the university in particular we had been supportive of the exciting partnership between the College of Arts and Sciences and the Miller center which have just launched an exciting democracy initiative the initiative will be central to a university-wide consortium that will look at democracy and citizenship more broadly that’s what consortium includes the new cars’ Center for law and democracy at the law school and the year-long partnership between Larry Sabato Center for politics and the baton School of leadership and public policy which kicked off a national symposium series Wednesday in Newcomb Hall it also includes our Weldon Cooper Center the Sorenson Center and the presidential precinct by bringing together the complementary focus and extraordinary extraordinary capability of each of these centers and others across grounds into a coordinated consortium we aspire to make UVA the leading research university in the scholarship education and practice of democracy today’s program is a prominent example of the kind of collaboration that is helping to make that aspiration a reality so to tell you a little more about the college in the Miller center democracy initiative I’m gonna hand it over to Bill and Foley’s director and CEO of the Miller center thank you all for joining us today thanks Tom I’m delighted that this is the first public event of the partnership between the College of Arts and Sciences and the Miller center as Tom mentioned is you might have seen earlier this week we launched this partnership which over the next five years well a desperate address democracy in all its dimensions Tom’s help was instrumental in that partnership both in leading the consortium that he mentioned and indirectly supporting our effort to create a full-time professorship to lead that effort and of course he and Malcolm the Dean of the college has been the leader as well having raised over 12 million dollars to get it started melody Barnes who couldn’t join us today will serve as the domestic policy who served as domestic policy advisor for President Obama and as from Tim’s Richmond Virginia will be the co-director of that initiative and will be launching a nationwide search for an academic co-director who will be her partner the initiative will series feature a series of democracy labs like a lab in a science department these labs will include senior faculty researchers who bring together graduate students and undergraduates and together they will deeply dive into problems and challenges in our democratic systems both here in the United States and abroad we envision the labs in five enduring research areas such as governing institutions civic identity media and public discourse growth and economic opportunity and world affairs the first event of that collaboration is today and it’s connected to the first lab that has been selected for that which is one on race religion and global democracy that lab is co-directed by Martina aalverson Taylor who is someplace here with us today I know cuz she was getting her ticket earlier where’s martine don’t see her Oh in the back there’s martine always taking the back seat and curtis Shafer who is going to introduce our panelists today Curtis is the Francis Meyer ball professor and chair in the Department of Religious Studies here he’s the author of nine books author editor nine books including the largest anthology of Tibetan literature in English and most recently a translation of the life of Buddha Curtis also co-directs the half-century old Tibetan Buddhist studies graduate program in at the University of Virginia but before handing over the microphone to Curtis a word of thanks to Senator Kaine he has been an instrumental partner with us at the Miller center on one of our signature undertakings over the past decade which relates to how the presidency goes to war in a Democratic Society the Miller center had a blue-ribbon commission that rewrote the War Powers Act and Senator Kaine and his partner Senator McCain introduced that into legislative debate we were never to see ever able to see it passed and Senator McCain’s lifetime but I know that Senator Kaine remains committed to it and will continue to fight that fight finally a word of thanks to someone who’s not here the member of the Board of Visitors Jeff Walker Jeff heads the boards Committee on research has been a big supporter of the democracy initiative and he’s also been a great supporter of the Religious Studies department Buddhist studies and the Center for contemplative studies and he’s a big believer in bringing spirituality and mindful practice into our lives and as a friend of Senator canes he’s also instrumental in making sure that today’s event happened so Jeff as you’re watching the live cast at home thank you for all your friendship and support with that I’m going to turn it over to Curtis Shafer to introduce our panelists Curtis [Applause] [Applause] good afternoon well as bill said for the I’m Curtis Schaffer for the last eight years I’ve had the privilege of being the chair the Department of Religious Studies and as the largest such department at a public university in the u.s. it is our pleasure to serve as co-host with the Miller center and the contemplative Sciences Center of the seizing evenings conversation and to welcome our honored guests senator cane senator cane is kindly offered to talk with us on religion a topic that is at once so easy to name and so challenging to explore in depth and a topic that Senator Kaine has always actively engaged in public settings senator Kaine is for us a perfect conversation partner raised in a Catholic family in the midst of law school he took a year’s leave of absence to volunteer at a Jesuit mission in Honduras he describes this period of his life as transformative a time in which he grappled with the challenge of bringing his own faith to real-world problems since becoming a member of st. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond Virginia he has been a prominent voice in both religion and politics here in Virginia and eventually on the national stage now what distinguishes senator Kane’s approach to religion in public life is his willingness to name and to call out the challenge of negotiating the twin domains of church and government of religion and politics where do one’s spiritual life and one civic life begin where do they meet where do they part for most of us the spiritual in the Civic are not distinct realms of life and yet the claims each alone makes upon us can feel at times to be all-encompassing how do we live the ideal religious life and the ideal political life in the midst of an actual life senator Kaine takes the time to bring these often private concerns into public conversation and it is for this that we welcome him today to the University of Virginia now it is also my pleasure to introduce to you my colleagues in the Department of Religious Studies David Germano who’s professor of Religious Studies and an expert on Buddhist life and thought into he’s also executive director of UVA is contemplative Sciences Center Chuck Matthews at the far end specializes in Christian philosophical theology as well as religious ethics he is the Carolyn M barber professor of Religious Studies a senior fellow at the Miller center and co-director of UVA is religion and its public’s project where we shall Hawkins in the center is visiting professor of the department’s of politics and religious studies and a specialist in religion race and politics in the United States as well as a member of the religion race and democracy lab now for the next 50 minutes or so lorisha Chuck and David will open and hold a conversation with Senator Kaine right after that we’ll be able to field several questions from the audience and there’ll be cards going around if you have a question please grab a card write it get it back to the front and billionth Oh Louis is going to negotiate that question the Q&A period yeah so before we invite senator Kaine to sit with our faculty we’d like to invite him to the podium to share some opening remarks so please join me in welcoming to the podium senator Kent [Applause] thank you please thank you very much please it is it is wonderful to be back at UVA and to stand on this stage I had my first debate in my primary for lieutenant governor on this stage and have have so many wonderful memories of being here in Charles Ville and and on the campus so thank you for the opportunity to talk about the topic that I’m the most interested in I want to take just about ten minutes to kind of set the stage and then I’m really looking forward to the dialogue with the panel and with all of you and I want to talk a little bit about my own faith journey in life but put it in a way that might relate to yours because mine is not so interesting except as a it’s a starting point for you to grapple with questions that I think we all should grapple with so I thought I would say a word about my own faith journey say word about religion which I view as different than faith and then talk about public life my own faith journey Curtis told you a little bit about me I grew up in a very Irish Catholic household in Kansas City but one of these Irish Catholic families and I bet there others are like this that we never talked about religion we just always went to Mass we were so frustrated my two brothers and I if we got back from a summer vacation on a Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. to Kansas City my parents knew where there was a 9 p.m. mass that we needed to get to her so Sunday Mass regular observance was so important to my parents that even without talking about it we absorbed it through them through the way they treated others through their their passion to try to walk and live in the ways that were consistent with what we were hearing in church I went to a high school run by Jesuits the Society of Jesus in the Catholic Church whose motto in their schools is in a boy school like my men for others or people for others focusing upon your obligations to those but you know I think a lot of us as young people we have the faith of our fathers but that’s not the same thing as having your own faith commitment I went to the University of Missouri I slowly kind of stopped being so regular about going to Mass every Sunday finished Mizzou went to Harvard Law School but in the middle of Harvard Law School I heard what the old testament phrase the Stilson voice that made me think I don’t know what I want to do with my life and I took a year off to reconnect with missionaries and Honduras connected to my high school and I just wrote him and said can I come volunteer I had been there once in high school and always thought I might go back and I thought maybe if I just go and help somebody else out for a year all figure some things out about myself the Jesuits in Honduras 1981 tough time military dictatorship they were working with the poorest of the poor real persona non-grata because of that of course I didn’t know any of this I didn’t know that it was going to be a tough challenging year in that way I got there and they said what can you do I said well I’m at Harvard Law School they said that’s precisely meaningless here I mean there was nothing about that that would be at all relevant to anyone I said well my dad my dad’s an iron worker and welder and I do know a little bit about that and they said perfect we’ve just started a vocational school that he can teach kids to be carpenters and welders the principal’s leaving to go study to be a priest work with him for a month get your Spanish better and then you’ll run the school so that was my year away from Harvard Law School running a school in El Progreso Honduras the second poorest country in the hemisphere after Haiti at the time working with these really cool Jesuits from Spain and from the United States but especially getting to know my children and their families who were living a very very challenging reality physically in the midst of a military dictatorship where nobody could vote for their leaders and even speaking out in favor of social justice or the opportunity to have elections one day could you could get you thrown in jail and killed I knew a Jesuit who was killed by the Honduran military a year or two after I left I knew some of the Jesuits who were murdered by death squads in El Salvador in 1989 because they would come to where I live to participate in retreats religion in a very different way than I then I had experienced it so by the time I got back from Honduras I was a very changed person I in a way that was the transition for me from a personal spirituality of doing what my parents did to a personal spirituality that was very much about action but also you know just for me believing in the divinity of Jesus and thinking that boy this guy really at the pinnacle represents what it is to be a fully actualized human being that same realization that has not only struck Christians but Einstein loved Jesus called him the luminous Nazarene Gandhi loved Jesus Thomas Jefferson who didn’t believe in all the miracles and any of that but loved the lessons loved the teachings and that is my personal faith still just trying to emulate in a very human and imperfect way a person who I think sets a perfect role model for me so that’s faith or spirituality or philosophy and everybody in this room you’re on your own faith and spirituality and ethical paths we all are questioning figuring it out trying to decide whether there’s a bigger meaning in life to the than just the immediate tasks that are before you religion is something different you know we have our personal views but we also participate in every area of our life in institutions and that step from a personal view to participating in a group or institution as a massive step in life because there’s no group and there’s no institution that is a complete match for my personal view there’s no group or institution that is Tim Kaine can walk in and say it’s my way or the highway and I think part of adult life is working in settings might be your religion or your church might be your employer might be the university you attend where you feel certain affinities but you may also feel things that well that’s not quite who I am that’s not quite what I believe and then trying to negotiate that place between your own personal view and then joining an institution always will pose challenges I’m imagine I still worship as a Catholic probably because I got started that way but certainly because I saw these wonderful wonderful missionaries in Honduras who still are my life heroes but I’ve grappled over my entire life with Catholic doctrine with now Catholic scandals and still grapple with them and if if it was a matter of would you agree with 100% of the Catholic dogma I don’t know that I would say it was a Catholic just as if I was asked you believe a hundred percent of the Democratic National Committee party platform from 2016 I don’t know that I would say that I was a Democrat if you’re trying to take your own views and then put them into a group or institutional setting you have to grapple with challenges and contradictions and yet I like many feel like I’m a better person spiritually I would never say I’m a good Catholic I want to this is I’m not speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church I’m not gonna say I’m a good Catholic but I will proudly proclaim that I’m a better person because I’m a Catholic and for me what I have found in my own faith life and others find this differently is being in a group setting like a parish a group setting like a parish helps me do a better job in my faith life my parish is very unusual it’s real different than the suburban parish I grew up in my suburban parish Mass was time to be 45 minutes because then there was a 20-minute emptying of the parking lot followed by the 20 minute filling in the parking lot for the next 45-minute mass five masses sunday was like billions and billions served on McDonald’s you know the the parish that I’ve been in since I moved to Virginia is a very different one I found it because I wanted a parish that made me feel like I felt when I went to Mass in Honduras there’s only one mass a weekend there’s no end to it I mean it can go on a very long time and there’s a lot of emotion and a lot of hugging and a lot of music and sometimes it’ll be short and sometimes it’ll be long but there’s nothing artificial about you have to finish it you know in time for kickoff or in time to let the let the parking lot empty I’ve chosen to work worship in a Catholic setting that’s predominantly african-american the african-american tradition and the Catholic Church is an amazing one deeply oppressed sometimes hidden but also beautiful and incredibly instructive and in many ways like the experiences that I had when I was in Honduras and so maybe we’ll have a chance to talk with the panel about this issue of your own personal beliefs and how you fit them into an institution one that you love but don’t always completely agree with and then finally politics and I’ll say this very very briefly because you talk for hours about this obviously you know Jefferson was grappling with this writing letters talking about the wall between church and state Madison grappling with it as he and others were working on the Bill of Rights that go back and read the First Amendment and see how complicated a listing of rights and responsibilities it is six or seven different particular projection that come together but in that amendment based on the Virginia statute of religious freedom the Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786 is this protection you can worship as you like or not in this country and you can’t be preferred or punished for it free exercise of religion but also no establishment of religion meaning we would never put one religion above any other or below in the other and so in the public realm being a person of faith who practices in a religion how have I brought it into twenty-four years in public life and this is an everyday thing to I don’t have a maxim that solves all the challenges or problems that I grew up with every day but what I’ve looked at is sort of two straw man positions and tried to chart a sort of a different position if you think about religion in public life there are two kind of polar positions there’s somewhat aligned with the parties but not completely one one position would be and they both have a strong like scriptural support one position would be I’m a religious person therefore in my life as a person of politics I should legislate my values I should legislate my deepest beliefs not just for myself but for others that what I believe is is right and moral I should legislate because it’s right and moral for others that is a position what the long history in this country to today people believe that and then there’s another tradition that also has a strong scriptural background I’m a religious person but you know as Jefferson said there’s a wall of separation between church and state and all of the New Testament admonitions against praying loudly in front of the temple or trying to be publicly pious and be seen as pious there’s so many admonition against that in the New Testament you should you should let your work speak for you and be a faithful person but without trying to brag or be pious or publicly seen as PI’s because if you’re trying to do that there’s going to be an element of pride a very serious sin in trying to do that so do we either as legislators or political officials act to impose enforce legislate our values or do we say that’s off limit and we don’t talk about our faith lives or our spirituality because to do so would potentially divide or run the risk of succumbing to false pride we have tried to look at it as this religion can be throughout history often is – today a huge divider but there there is a way in which faith and religion can be throughout time a great uniter and in one of the ways that I have found it there are other ways but one of the ways I have found it to be a uniter is if you put it in this context I should share my motivations with you I’m not telling you to do this and I’m not judging you if you do that but but what I should do is share my motivations with you those of us in public life we share everything we we tell you that I like to play the harmonica you know or I was I grew up in Kansas City and my dad was an ironworker we share everything so why wouldn’t we share what most motivates us politics at the end of the day is not about here are the 10 positions I have on 10 issues that’s some of it that’s some of it but if I told you the 10 positions I had on the 10 issues you that you cared the most about I can guarantee that if I was in the Senate a year from now there would be a huge and important issue that the whole country would be talking about that wouldn’t have been among the 10 that I described to you because new things happen all the time in emergencies and challenges and surprises if I tell you where I am in 210 you may have no basis for judging how I’m going to deal with the really important one we’re not talking about but if I share with you my motivations what motivates me to do what I do that experience in Honduras and working with the poorest of the poor and being motivated by these great missionaries and trying to emulate them a little bit if I share with you what motivates you you don’t feel judged by me sharing that you don’t feel like I’m telling you you have to be this or that I’m just giving you a yardstick that you can use to a try to determine what I might do and be even to constructively criticize and put some pressure on me hey I thought you said this was who you were now something’s coming up and that’s not really who you shared with us and I really believe that in the sharing of motivations with each other we become set aside politics we become better people when we share our motivations with each other because we’re all in need of learning and growing and sharing our motivations with one another is the way that happens in public life I know some amazing people who are very motivated as I am primarily by their own spiritual definition of their mission in life I know people who would not describe their motivation as primarily spiritual but they would say this happened to me when I was a child I don’t want any child to ever have to go through this like I had to now that’s a motivation that’s a really important motivation this year so there’s so many different motivations that drive us in doing what we do and the way I try to sort of square the role of religion or faith in public life is to view it as a sharing of my motivation in the hopes that if I share others from share with me and if they share with me then I’ll be a better person and maybe be a better public servant too so to open it off that’s what I have for you I’m really glad now to sit down and to visit with our panelists thanks for coming today [Applause] okay I think we’ll just jump right into it and this is really meant to be much more of a conversation so yeah feel free to interrupt at any time or we might write all of you please yeah we all know each other so we’re good at arguing I guess in some ways it for me the first question that I think of comes right out of what you were just saying about the importance of sharing I like that that metaphor that’s an important one and it does really pay off to kind of reveal in some sense the deeper commitments we have and give people a sense of how they might orient us to future challenges that we face and and in some ways that might be one of the advantages of a more overt and explicit religious belief that you know if you if you have a very internal personal philosophy sometimes it’s harder for people to read where you’ll go unless you lay that out in many many books like a good academic whereas if you are in fact however complicated you are related to some explicit religious institution that at least gives you some rules of thumb about where you where you might go what I’d like to ask you is in some ways just on that what do you think are the overall advantages that I’d hear in here to people who are expressly religious believers in public life what are the opportunities they have but then also what do you think are the distinctive challenges facing religious believers in public life Wow so I think yeah the opportunities are if my advice is share your motivations a religious motivation is is pretty commonly understood I mean because we’re dealing with people all day or religion we may know coming up you know so many of those to the synagogue or somebody who is you know doing the evangelical summer youth program so it’s a common vocabulary or currency that whether or not we’re really participants we’re around people who are so sharing motivation that’s in the religious realm is maybe an easier share than some like for example sharing a painful childhood experience or a painful experience as an adult as a motivator you know sometimes those can be extremely difficult to share it’s not hard to say practicing Catholic my whole life it’s a lot harder to say I was a victim of a sex abuse you know sexual abuse as a young person so I think maybe there’s a it’s a little bit more natural to put that out on the table the challenge though for those of us in our in religious life is that for so many forever religion has primarily been seen or portrayed as we’re judging you or we approve of this and we don’t approve of that it’s it’s it’s so much so so often more about thou shalt nots than thou shalt and that immediately causes defensive ‘no stood up and it puts barriers and religion has been used as a source of division and today in the world to justify warming so you can immediately in the religious space put distance between yourself and someone else and and then that becomes an obstacle to listening an obstacle chairing an obstacle learning and obstacle to working together so I think one of the real challenges that people of faith have is if that’s part of your motivation how do you share it so that people don’t feel like you’re beating it internal you know how do you share so people don’t feel like you’re judging them or it’s about thou shalt not but to share it to really provoke a good discussion and I think that’s hard I sometimes feel like you know saying what I said about really believing in sort of the Jesus as though as a role model if if a if you took copies of the Bible when you tore the cover off so that people do know it was a Bible and you just left them strewn around you know I think a whole lot of people would read and think man there’s a lot of really great wisdom in this book but I think I think the Bible has so often been used as a bludgeon or a tool to beat the non-believer or whatever that it’s hard it’s sometimes hard to approach it freshly and newly as a source of wisdom that can be wisdom for anybody in any time in any culture so I think those of us in the religious space have to do this in a way that doesn’t raise all the defensive ‘no softn been raised for very legitimate reasons so i add a question about what is my own kind of private focus and active focus which is about practice and I’ve thought a lot about practice both in different religions and also kind of the analogs in secular life and you know we share a common background to some degree I understand that I read something today that you’re 1516 Irish and 1/16 Scottish yes and I was raised as what I call an icy squared person which means Irish Italian Catholic so that’s all I was raised to but I was the diverse person and then I actually went to Notre Dame so I continued that Catholic education until I was about 22 or so and then I spent most of my adult life immersed in a very different world which is Tibetan Buddhist communities and the kind of strange thing is when you put aside the theological differences they’re really very similar traditions when you think about the ritual pageantry the kind of rich contemplatively kind of ecclesiastical orders the celibate monasticism etc and so what I wanted to ask you about today is when you think about religious practices it’s very diverse it can include things like community gatherings the Sunday Mass that you talked about different forms of contemplation prayer reading scripture communal private rituals even things like social justice service and so forth all of these are religious practices so I wonder if you could tell us a little bit when you think about your own experience in with religion and with politics what religious practices have been most important to you and how if they manifested in terms of your public and political life whether in terms of ethical issues or resiliency or whatever it might be yeah and I since I am NOT somebody who knows much about Tibetan Buddhism here you describe similarities an intellectual tradition ecclesiastical Authority contemplatively I mean those similarities are they now they make me want to read more I find them appealing yeah practice Hey look we all have practices I mean practices or our habits and some are habits that are sort of sanctified and made into rituals but I mean we all have practices we all have philosophical ethical religious practices that we do because they bring meaning to our lives I mean for me its mass and I just I have a very unusual parish and I love visiting as a politician I there’s a lot of different churches and one of the things I love is hearing preachers and ministers of all different denominations their own take you know how they view preaching and boy you just you just learned that authenticity is everything in a million styles work if they’re authentic and any style that’s not it then it doesn’t work so but I bet the mass in my own congregation which is very diverse is something that I just find incredibly comforting it’s very emotional I mean that we might church involves a lot of Tears you know and and in in a beautiful way that was not my church experience as a kid it is my church experience now and human emotions are great they’re not to be put in a different part of life they’re fantastic they’re maybe the most sacred part of anything we bring to the table as our emotions so mass is really important but also in public life as a lieutenant governor and governor for eight years I was in the what we called the sunrise caucus which was a Tuesday 6:30 a.m. meeting with legislators of both parties that was kind of a Bible study prayer group and I did that with legislators both parties people who I I can’t remember once in eight years they were voted for anything I ever proposed but and then some who did but that wasn’t the point the point was to learn from each other and now I’m in something similar in the Senate there’s a prayer breakfast in the Senate that started in the 1950s every Wednesday morning 8:15 to nine fifteen minutes of scrambled eggs five minutes of prayer and opening him and then 25 minutes of a senator or former senator and we alternate Democrat Republican talking about their faith life or spiritual journey but sort of broadly defined I mean it might be you know a real church he talked one week and it might be how my mother helped me get over polio at a young age and the effect its had on me or it might be a mentor and what I learned from a mentor I got asked actually to be the speaker last week I wasn’t supposed to be the speaker they asked me 12 hours in advance somebody cancelled I said well I don’t have anything profound to say but I will need a discussion about let’s all talk about what John McCain meant to us and so we went around with 30 of us that had this really interesting discussion I so I would say that that is a binding experience with colleagues again whom I often disagree with but it’s you know as one of the colleagues that the prayer breakfast says it’s really hard to stab somebody in the back when you’ve been at the prayer breakfast with them it’s not it’s not impossible and so we we don’t we don’t go to the prayer breakfast to manufacture fake agreement or consent but by understanding you get each other’s motivations what’s important to you or be it gives us more of an ability to work together and by contrast and knowing the different demographics of the plane States versus Richmond and thinking about your burgeoning political career a civil rights attorney when you joined the church from what I’ve read and from what I understand and the kind of rituals that occur in a black tabloid space and I also studied black Catholic parishes in Chicago you J this is an area of interest of mine st. Sabina Catholic Church with father played there which is now the subject of the film parishes especially black parishes generate their own kinds of local politics beyond the different kinds of rituals that blend black Catholic Mass kind of dogma and doctrine with the best of black church worship and that sense of a spirit emanates out of suffering and oppression and so thinking about your experience in the mass amongst this black community and one of the poorest parts of Richmond how did that inform your decision to enter politics because you had a long local political career before and how did that shape the kinds of issues you wanted to pursue and I want to say a question as a political scientist too about representation because I’m guessing as in case you don’t know your wife man also help you think about descriptive representation how to substantively represent people who look different than you who’s socio-economic situation is different than you in a city where when you started your political career had the highest murder rate in the country yeah yeah so two two questions there how did my church experience influence me in in politics and then how how to represent a committee I was mayor of a city it was 60% African Americans how do you represent a community or even a council district that was significantly diverse how do you represent try to represent fairly all people if they have very different experiences than yours that you haven’t lived and don’t fully understand so on the church side I have a really hard time connecting the dots in my own life I just I some other people might be able to look at it from the outside and see connected I never thought I’d go into politics I joined my parent my family is incredibly non-political my wife’s dad was the first elected Republican governor Jimmy so I married into a really political family but when I came to Richmond my whole goal was I want to go to him the church or when I’m in the middle of mass it feels like I’m in Honduras accept I’ll accept some English being spoken and and we we went all over town and who my wife who’s not a Catholic but knew this was important to me and then she went to st. Elizabeth’s one day without me and said he’s gonna like this and when I came and visited we went once and we fell in love and with the church and then the next week we went back and said hey were new there about can you continue marry us in two months I mean we just we knew we had found the place because it would it had that the experience in Honduras was it wasn’t 45 minutes cut and dry it was this village in the mountains they may get a priest for ramps once every six months so there was going to be not just the mass but it was going to be three baptisms and five weddings and a couple of memorial services for somebody who died two months ago but it was you know long and in Henson and I wanted that and and you’re right I think the african-american experience you could you could have a Catholic Mass following all the order of the mass but it was the experience of of suffering and solidarity borne by suffering that made a Catholic Mass at st. Elizabeth’s in Richmond Highland Park very similar to parochial a less meta status in El Progreso mean a very common experience but I don’t know how to trace that to getting into political life although I guess I I practiced civil rights on Richmond and I didn’t run for city council I’d been there ten years and I was fed up with racial division on my city councilman Richmond’s a city with a history we got scar tissue you know capital the Confederacy the legislature that that formulated not just Virginia laws but the General Assembly of Virginia which started me in 1619 formulated the laws of slavery of the United States there there was not slavery in the English colonies at sixty nineteen when the first Africans were brought ashore as slaves into the English colonies at Jamestown there wasn’t slavery these slaves captured off an angle and Portuguese slave ship when they hit English soil they became intention servants and there were white indentured servants in 1619 by 1640 indentured servitude had disappeared for whites that had been turned into freedom and for african-americans that have been turned into slavery there was no more intention servitude so the lived experience of a community that’s gone through that obviously just like the livid experience of people have been beaten down by military government or they’re poor in Honduras it creates a an ethos that is very very connected and so I I was offended in my city at racial division I had a council that was racially divided and on issues of controversy it was it would often be the case that white council members about one way african-american council members voted another way and I was seeing this as a naive youngster thinking well I’d like to do bad you know I think I could do better than that and so ran my first race had barely won but I do think the fact that I was a civil rights lawyer the fact that that my wife’s dad was the Republican governor who integrated the public schools of Virginia the fact that I was going to st. Elizabeth’s but interestingly enough a thing that really helped me is he’s not from here so he’s not part of anybody’s clique my city was a cliquish city and you know if you were for one click then and this wasn’t all just racy there just click ish but the fact that I was kind of a newbie meant that I didn’t come with automatic suspicion of being in this or that clique so I’m sure that my church experience affected me is some way representation it’s just about listening I mean you just have to you have to listen as much as you can and yet still not think that you know everything about somebody else’s life my my friend Jim O’Leary who is my life hero in Honduras by the time I worked with him streetwise tough kid from st. Louis never was was ordained a priest because he didn’t want to study theology or anything he was a Jesuit brother I just want to help people I don’t want to go through all the theology stuff I mean I don’t care about I just want help people and he had lived there for 25 years and he once told me because now that I’ve been here for 25 years man I really I have a hard time identifying as an American but I but I definitely know I’m not a Honduran even after 25 years he was very humble about I cannot be in the shoes of the people that I work with every day I can’t and so I try to maintain that a little bit and also in my career I’ve tried to do some things that I thought were when I got to be mayor of Richmond it was an enormous gift of the african-american community to me so what I mean by that was the city at that time the city didn’t elect the mayor the council selected me and the council was majority african-american now when the city had been majority white from the 1780s until the early 1970s the white majority never said to an african-american hey we’d really like you to be mayor me so 200 years not once not once did the white community say they’re an african-american we’d really like you to be mayor so now here I am this new guy you know and and we’re just 20 years into african-american majority in my city and my african-american majority city and council says you know you’d be a good mayor that was an enormous and really gracious and very homely yep and to think while my own community would never be this gracious but here 20 years in do you finally have a majority you’re saying hey you’d be a good mayor I mean that’s kind of powerful but I remember I got elected mayor for the second time and I immediately announced I wasn’t running for a third term and one of the reasons I did is I had been given this enormous kind of grace filled opportunity by my african-american community but suddenly decided well I want to be a hog and be mayor for a really long time was not a very good idea I should try to pave the way for the next person and try to extend something to the next person just like the community in a really powerful way have extended something to me so you do your best but you also do have to try to train up encourage mentor campaign with fundraise for other people so that all communities can really represent themselves our representative body should look like the population looks they don’t mean twenty percent women in Congress when fifty plus percent of the women I mean we do not have legislative bodies that look like society looks and those of us in leadership which has to be part of our burden to try to expand representation for everybody so you that’s really interesting this idea that maybe there are two different kinds of representation going on on the one hand you represent your faith your tradition in some sense to everybody so in a way you’re you’re representing your own personal views but then also as a politician you do the opposite in a way you are kind of avoiding yourself in a some in a in a way and emptying yourself out this is a rhetoric that you might know from Christianity and how do you think those two modes of representation relate abstractly but also in your own in your own practice yeah well that’s a really good question so and and one way to ask that if we were not having a discussion about faith and we’re just talking about politics somebody asked the question hey do you do it you think is right or do you represent your constituents ie read polls about what they say and do what they want is it is it what you think’s right or is it as a representative the represent your constituents and that’s that’s a continuous tension continuous tension the way I kind of grapple with that and then you’ve added the spiritual dimension on to it is I actually feel like my job is to listen as well as I can to everyone and then do what I think is right rather than do is a popular thing what the poll says but but I always have to challenge myself am I really listening to people this gets harder and harder as you get older and older as you stay in it I’ve been in politics for twenty four years now I tend to think I know the answer like really fast most times you can you cannot you can you can mature skin thickens in this line of work you can stop listening to people I I was talking to a CEO not long ago who had announced he was resigning retiring and I say that you’re still on a gun run why’d you retire I was dismissing other people’s ideas too fast I had been there long enough to know we’ll know somebody tried that ten years ago it didn’t work so I’m just gonna dismiss it you said and when I hurt myself doing that I thought now it’s time for me to retire and so I think the challenge for a representative is not to just be a scientific representative of the poll median on any question that’s not what you’re supposed to do I don’t think but I do think we have to challenge ourselves to listen to views including view is very different than ours you know there’s a the prop one problem we have in politics right now is the Simon and Garfunkel lyric from the box or a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest we can all we can all hear what we want there’s ways we can just get the news from the people you want and talk to the people like us and we’re even self sorting by population now in this country and states you know if you look at state performance and presidential elections almost all states used to be you know fifty five forty five elections but you know you guys on the politics side knows you have a lot of states now they’re in 60/40 70/30 people are self sorting where they live and that makes it really easy just to listen to the people that you know agree with you you have to force yourself not to and sometimes I’m good at that sometimes I need to be better at it are these folks not shy about saying you know like what whatever is on their minds all right so I had a question is a follow-up to this issue of practices when you think about the value that this has had in your life and the life of other people for example in your parish these emotional experiences and mass these kind of aesthetic moments of inspiration these kind of building trust in a community within the prayer sessions in the Senate and so forth and you think then about how so much of our society of secular and our main institutions that we invest public money and recycler the school systems hospitals etc then how does it translate so for example if you think about pilgrimage we all know where that wind went into tourism very different kind of practice with regards to place and so forth at another Catholic in Congress Tim Ryan has written a book a mindful nation that kind of explores some of these things and our common friend owlsley Brown which the University of Virginia and the city of Louisville have partnered on this project called compassionate schools which tries to look at elementary school education and how can we translate some of these practices that in older times where the exclusive domain of religion into an elementary school education is this a problem is that a breach of the barrier between religion and state or is this something that we need to revisit to think again about how secular life and secular institutions can be constituted so I wonder how you think about those issues well I haven’t thought about it much so that’s that you you’re asking me a good one so you know we had all these battles in the court about prayer in school so that would be a preference of a religion over another and it made people who weren’t of the dominant religion feel excluded her so we’re not gonna have prayer in schools we’d have a moment of silence constitutionally where people can contemplate but there’s been this really cool move in the center here and some of the people connected with it are focusing on can we put mindfulness contemplation spirituality reflection back in schools of the meaningful way because it’s not just the 30-second moment of silence before the Pledge of Allegiance I mean this is what we need to do to be good people to to go deeper and to reflect more and to be more intentional mindfulness techniques in schools are often used to deal with tough bullying incidences you wouldn’t really do that somebody that way if you really kind of reflect it about yourself and about this other person and so mindfulness and contemplation strategies are coming back strong in public education not sort of mindfulness as religion or spirituality but mindfulness as a life practice that will enable us to be better people and I don’t do that I don’t do those is at all challenging on church-state issues and I view them as is really helpful they they help us listen to one another more you know I mean if I could just like one piece of advice I just think listening is the lost art in life and politics certainly but just all of life people just don’t feel listened to and mindfulness and contemplation is is ultimately about listening to to myself listening to greater wisdom listening to others oh just I I think this is my favorite prayer and I’m just gonna tell it to you and because it’s like eighty-eight concepts in eleven words and it’s from George Fox who is the founder of the friends the Quakers walk cheerfully over the earth answering that of God in everyone walk cheerfully over the earth answering that of God in everyone let me just break it down for you walk God be energetic you know faith shouldn’t be just you know it’s got to be active and energetic and dynamic cheerfully it’s not grim duty-bound no it’s gotta be about joy over the earth that means get outside of your own comfort zone and being some other people’s comfort zones answering walk cheerfully over the earth answering what do you have to do before you answer you have to listen you have to listen before you answer so the word answering is about listening and then answering is a response so listen and respond walk cheerfully over the earth answering that of God the divine spark in every one in every person and so it’s got kind of all this wrapped up in an act of contempt and of out of your comfort zone the divine spark but it has in the word answering it has both listening and bonding and I think it’s sort of a listening part of life that is so lost I see this in constituents they call my office and they’re yelling from the moment my front desk person picks up the phone and I asked one day I asked what one of my staffers lies in one day because I could tell she’s getting out that I don’t remember what the issue was I said why is it what it’s a hard day yeah they were yelling Senate senator they were yelling me from the moment I picked up but then she said this the wisdom of a 24 year old but you know was interesting I when I asked him a couple questions was in 30 seconds that they weren’t Yellin anymore then we’re having a really good conversation I said Liza why is that dead why why are they yelling from the second you pick up the phone and then they’re having a polite conversation which is thirty seconds later she said I think they felt like I wouldn’t listen to him so they started yelling and she said and I think that’s probably because they felt like they hadn’t been listened to that they’ve had the experience of not being listened to so as we’re thinking about you know the big topics of faith religion politics public life I mean much of life is very elemental and simple in terms of the things that we we should do for each other and I think listening is an awful big part of it and the things that I’m seeing mindfulness and contemplative studies in schools are really about the listening in all its dimensions interrogate answer by way of another question which is you’ve come to Charlottesville which is a place that has become a hashtag in the last year and you’ve come to a community that is broken and Riven and it’s also a community that and at a university that Thomas Jefferson built and we can look up and we can see Monticello yeah and what happened here a year ago is emblematic of what some people call the original sin of our country but the reason that Nazis and white supremacist neo Nazis a statue of Thomas Jefferson is this intersection of our unsolved issues around race religion and so when people in Charlottesville when some of us here a senator say we need to listen more some people’s answer would be well we’ve listened a lot and there’s attention between listening to Co citizens who we acknowledge are created in the image of the divine whether that we say that as out of namaste or a Margo day as you do in your Catholic faith there’s also time for resistance speaking and acting prophetically and many of us both in in academia and I have friends who are professional activists whatever the hell that means activist is on the Twitter page paid for what we’re wondering and really struggling with here in this community is we’ve listened a whole hell of a lot yeah we want to know in the age of America first student and make America great again the halcyon days of Monticello on a hill with Sally Hemings in the basement right how are we going to like it doesn’t seem like we’ve come very far and listening isn’t taking us there yeah so how do we how do you and the Senate as someone who is driven by what you just explicate it is all the sole work that you’ve done to get you to a place where you can listen to people who are yelling yeah and some of whom are your constituents and do you have wisdom for us I don’t even know it yeah oh do we as a community because everywhere I go and speak in the country people are asking what’s Charlotte’s no how a Charlottesville reacting no no how are you reacting and what wisdom you can give us from your perch is a senator and also is a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia no great question and and you’re right I mean it’s easy for me to say look I’ve never in my life ever been treated badly and wondered if it was because of the color of my skin or because I was a man if I if I get treated badly that’s because either I’m being a jerk or the other person’s being a jerk but it’s not because of some endemic quality to me that I cannot change so I’ve never I’ve never faced it so it’s easy for me to say hey listen to offensive speech for example but but I do believe listening is a is a precursor to action so yeah I was a listener but I was a civil rights lawyer battling in courts all over the country for 17 years laughs yeah I was a listener but I listened and then I do what I think is right on voting civil rights and other and other matters so it is listening can be a palliative right we’re gonna have a community dialogue but then people feel like there’s a community dialogue and then there’s no action then it becomes kind of embedding like well why even why’d you even have me come in the talk if we weren’t going to make changes so you know and and I I did put the moment that we’re living in in a historical context and we’ll go to Jefferson since you mentioned Monticello so deeply imperfect person had a really fantastic idea that we should make equality the North Star of our whole project now it was all men are created equal and he owned slaves and when he wrote notes on the states of Virginia his writings about Indians weren’t in the pot the chapter on population they were in the chapter on flora and fauna so there’s a deeply imperfect person he he had an ideal that he knew should be the ideal even if he couldn’t come within 50 zip codes of living it but he put it out there as an ideal and then if you look at our history I just I think American history is sort of this we have this north are out there now a sailor can sail by a North Star never get there but a sailor can sail by a North Star it’s a point of orientation we do our best work when we’re orienting on that point we often drift away or turn backwards and we don’t orient on that point and an interesting thing I would say to the students here you can almost look at the history of this country as each generation way kind of a saying now wait a minute we set a quality what what the hell are we doing so so Jefferson puts a quality in the Declaration in 1776 but the Constitution 1787 doesn’t mention the word equality enshrines inequality 3/5 of a person Fugitive Slave laws all gets enshrined just 11 years later it’s like they completely disappeared but then the country starts to kind of slowly have an agitation about being aware of the mismatch between what we said it was about the way we’re living so a massive expiation of blood for the original American sin and then by god we’re gonna write the 13th amendment no slavery 14th amendment equality just equality what all persons are entitled to equal protection on the laws 15th amendment can’t turn somebody away from voting because of the color of their skin but within a few years after that we’re back into Jim Crow oppressing African Americans and the Supreme Court says yeah that equality thing that doesn’t mean women that does not mean women when women are trying to get to be lawyers in Illinois and the case goes up to the Supreme Court they said it says equal protection for all persons no that did not meet women that didn’t mean women so then you’re in the 19-teens and it’s like wait equality I mean it’s gotta mean women can vote and so then you have the 19th amendment women can vote this generations aha moment was dad we’ve deprived you know LGBT people from being able to have full marriage equality and it mean is it to all persons that get equal protection or not I I was at a wonderful event this morning I mean just I mean kind of like I can’t believe I got to do it but my daughter is in a production of The Laramie Project the play about the murder of Matthew Shepard its 20th anniversary next month they’re doing it in Richmond and Dennis and Judy Shepard Matthews parents came to do to watch some excerpts from the cast and have a community dialogue about it well they’re horrible painful experience this generation picked up the cause of LGBT equality and said hey you guys have been saying this about equality since 1776 are you serious or aren’t you what are we doing now that forty years from now our grandkids will say I can’t believe they did that I can’t believe they were they were doing that and not realizing it wasn’t in tune with our principal he this North Star is like a continuous point to which we return and challenge ourselves we’re not living that way so look I think the issue on the action side for Ashe also for a Richmond for a you know for a nation it’s now you know you you you I’m sorry you kind of got me on my little riff here but I’m gonna I want to give it to you next year’s the for another anniversary of african-americans coming to Virginia to the English colonies 2019 so divide 400 years into eight half centuries forty years and a half centuries for five-eighths african-americans were held in bondage and even if free Dred Scott said they could never be citizens even born free in the United States the Dred Scott decision said could never he says that’s five eighths of our history for two eighths african-americans could not be held in legal bondage but were denied all kinds of legal rights right you know equal voting rights act Fair Housing Act employment discrimination until the mid-1960s so for 7/8 of our history african-americans have either been held as slaves or denied legal equality it’s only been in the last 1/8 of this four hundred years that African Americans have at least been given legal equality not social avoid the legal equality and so we grab them with questions of like wealth differential between Caucasian and African American families I mean if for 7/8 of your entire history here on the continent you were held either in bondage or in legal second-class subjected status we got a long way to go and so I think the real issues for Charlottesville and Richmond in the nation or in the kind of wealth and income gap side and meaningful powerful step to promote you know work wealth wages for African American and other minority communities I used the after American example because we we started there but I think that is the next big that is a next big civil rights frontier there are others too but that’s a next big one [Applause] so this is only half of the questions huge stack of questions I’ll try to try not to filibuster we’re gonna see also if there’s a way that we can post these online because the questions are so rich what I think I’m going to do senator if it’s okay with you is is throw a cluster of questions in the same space we’ve provided them out and I’ve got three or four and I definitely want to get to the fourth which is the most fun okay so cluster one you mentioned how the Bible can be a source of wisdom for all people have you found that other rules that other religions behind your own have been sources of wisdom for you what experiences in your public life made you question and doubt your faith in association with Catholicism we are a diverse nation culturally and religiously political leaders frequently identify Americans as Christian a Christian country what do you think about that what role should other religions play I am a Catholic non-religious people often disregard religious beliefs any advice on how to bridge that divide and these are questions for that’s a lot of different questions the one that kind of grabbed me just because it’s what I’m really one of the things I’m really thinking about right now is things that challenging me and my Catholicism the the thing that over the course of my life has been the most challenging is not having women priests which I still think look again I’m not speaking for Catholic doctrine I’m not a spokesperson for the church as a thinking and believing person I believe the inability of women to be at the top spiritual leadership role in many of the world’s religions including athos ISM is the greatest civil rights issue on the planet Earth and the reason for that [Applause] and the reason for that is if you can explain in the spiritual realm why women should that have the same opportunities as men then that is a justification for differentiation in every other realm so I think a move toward complete ability of women to serve in the highest level of world religions in the spiritual realm would have a downstream consequence and not allow a justification for differential treatment in all kinds of other realms and I would say that that’s one that I mean you know my wife is a is a goes to church with me all the time has never converted to Catholicism and I think she would conferred in a minute if that were the case she’s been an attender for 35 years my I have a daughter you know who I think is so deeply connected to our parish life but also that gives her trouble but long before you know when I was in high school in my Catholic high school it bugged me and one of the reasons I tell myself anyway that I’m kind of staying in my churches I’m not sure it’s gonna be the the ecclesiastical leadership of the church that’s going to change that I think it’s mean to lay people that are gonna be needed to change that and so I sort of stay hoping that over time I might have something to do so there are other questions there too and I don’t know if folks might attack them but that’s one and then the you know the whole issue of of the of the scandals of the church now in terms the abuse of children but I think that is connected to women’s ordination and celibacy because sexuality is very integral part of life and if you ask somebody to sort of deny that part of themselves as good faith they as they may be when they make that pledge it’s going to be very difficult to do that and then then denying an essential part of life and then knowing that well now I realize it is an essential part of life but the expression of it has to be covert rather than overt because there’s a rule against it and if and if the expression of human sexuality has to be covert it can lead to things like the abuse of vulnerable people who you can shame into silence you know a lot of sex abuse happens to vulnerable people because the perpetrator believes this is somebody that I can force to stay silent and you’re you’re forcing somebody to stay silent because of a shame and the stigma that encourages covert behavior so I think that the the scandals of the church that just are so sole sickening I mean they’re so sickening I think about these fantastic people I work with their work is besmirched by the bad apples who do bad things they’re viewed with suspicion if they walk down the street with a Roman collar on that’s unfair to them so I’m really grappling with with these questions in my own church now and yet I again I don’t believe the changes that are needed are necessarily gonna come out of an insular hermetic ecclesiastical body I think they’re gonna come out of lay people this is a follow up on that in a way the crisis in the Roman Catholic Church and many other churches we saw this with Willow Creek a very large event Jellicle church this this is part of a larger crisis of institutions yeah in the society and government yeah that’s what I mean yes you’re a member of two of these big institutions that seem to be how do you think about either defending them explicitly or what advice would you have to someone who’s considering joining either of these I mean what are you why would you stay yeah I mean sometimes people ask me I’m trying to say well you know the country I love is going through a tough time and my church is in a tough spot but you know other than atomy yeah I mean so it’s funny that question so why join why become part of it that one doesn’t trouble me so much I worry more about how we’re gonna get to a better place but I just think the world needs people who battle you know they do just you just got a battle for principle Lincoln said with at the end of the second and art with firmness in the right as God gives us to see what is right so he was he was saying you got to be humble about it you should be very firm in the right but you should always acknowledge you know I’m not right because of me and I’m a humble person and if I’m right it might just be because I’ve got a good insight into what’s right in God’s eyes not in mine but I but I think you know be the best you are at whatever so I think that we need babblers in all spheres and and I’m incredibly hardened as an example by who I see one in politics these days for a long time I was getting depressed about politics because voting turnout was going down and it was harder and harder to get really interesting people of different backgrounds to run there’s a lot of good reasons not to run your you have no personal life and fundraising is tough there’s a million reasons not true but what we saw in Virginia in 2017 and what we’re seeing nationally now is a whole lot of young people or like okay I never went to the County meeting and I haven’t quote paid my dues and I’m in a district where they read is so gerrymandered I can’t win yeah I get all that but I’m running anyway and last year in Virginia that happened and look what happened we won more seats in the legislature than we had since 1872 eleven and fifteen people who won were women many were first time Canada Asian American african-american Muslim American Latino American immigrant born LGBT openly transgendered most of these people have been told you can’t win or you’re great but you can’t win in that district and they said yeah yeah I know I’m sure I can’t but I’m gonna run anyway so I’m seeing in a tough time it’s not like keeping people away you know there would be a Catholic thing to go to the broken place and I think a lot of people are seeing there’s a broken place and you know out of all traditions they’re responding to try to be part of repairing the broken place so buy low and don’t sell it also seems like as bill comes to ask another question that it’s in institutions you mentioned in your introductory remarks that you chose a parish in part because you need to be ensconced at the end of a community in d and the kind of atomization of our society I make a pitch kind of for joining things like the true Civic institutions to my students in part because there aren’t any institutions where we’re exposed to people in all stages from birth to death and develop the kind of collective identity that we’re so missing which relates to the collective liberation if women aren’t liberated none of us are right LGBTQ folks none of us are and it seems to me that for all its flaws the Catholic Church is committed to the liberation because the Loadstar because institutions can be like so frustrating for example they may be so frustrating however you’re not going to be as good a person just by yourself as you’re gonna be being around other people and comforting them when they need it and being comforted by them when you need it I mean you just what we really learn of the nature of God we so much more learn through interactions with each other than even you know fantastic spiritual literature which is really fantastic but I mean you’re gonna learn it more from observing somebody and say wow I wish I could be more like I mean I’ve we’ve been all brainstorming about McCain who was a religious person kept it to himself but McCain was a really irascible guy that you would fight with you non-stop and you know just I mean a lot of headaches with McCain but we’ve gone around and asked like well what’s something about him personally they would like to emulate and I remember thinking god that was an easy one for me to answer McCain was better at saying man I made a big mistake and I sorry and I really apologize he was better at that than virtually anybody I’ve ever known now I told him it’s because he made a lot of mistakes and and he had to develop that but I’m not very good at saying you know what I made a mistake and I apologize yeah I’m really sorry I’m not good at that I’m not sure a lot of McCain was really good at it really good at it and and so yeah so the institutions can be frustrating but the institutions also put you in contact with other human beings will help you be a better person okay the latest religious demographics suggest around 20% of Americans do not identify with themselves with any religion however there isn’t an openly non-religious member of Congress how do you as a person of faith represent the interests of non-believers another question how do we make room for non spiritual and non believing individuals to enter public and political life without stigma tation does the rise of so-called slightly differently does the rise of so-called spirituality and non affiliation in America worry you do you fear that the next generation won’t have the same motivation once again well yeah well if it’s a representation question no I I have really I have real good friends who are part of organizations that are very devoted toward you know secular humanism and and non religious non spiritual philosophy ethics you know and they always counter me on this I mean they’ve done a good job and I have dialogue with them a lot and often the dialogue comes up in things like my work on the Armed Services Committee hey who’s the chaplain for people who you know don’t have a religious belief there ought to be an adviser there ought to be somebody to help you work on PTSD issues or work on the issues of your connection to the folks in your platoon and so I that’s one of the ones I said earlier if I have to challenge myself to listen to people who come at issues very differently than me but they have been able to affect me and then I’ve been able to go into some of like the defense authorizing bills and things and try to open up broader space for people because it really is important this free exercise of religion and no established religion it’s not just religion but Jefferson talked about was nobody should be preferred or punished based on how they worship or not and and that and from the very beginning it was understood that how you worship or not should not give you an ad unit should not be used to your disadvantage so we have to protect everybody in that space well I think we’re all seekers right I’ve never met a person the guy that I know whose face is coming to my mind he’s always talking about these issues I mean he’s the most you know intense and curious seeker like of anybody I know like you are a religious person you don’t know your religious verses only we had that fight a lot but we’re but we’re all seekers and we have to protect that broad ability of all to seek in the way that they they feel comfortable there’s a famous anecdote about Reinhold Niebuhr and he gave a great sermon once and a friend of his Louis Brandeis who was a pretty a theistic Jewish guy came up to him afterwards and thanked him and said may a believing unbeliever thank you for your sermon without missing a beat neighbor said may an unbelieving believer accept your thanks Wow and that idea that everybody has both belief and some disbelief yeah which I think might actually be in the Gospels a little bit somewhere lord I believe help me of my unbelief somewhere I heard that’s a powerful fray a very mysterious phrasing in New Testament lord I believe help me in my unbelief yeah but that’s just an acknowledgment that I mean you know we’re all anybody anybody who’s too sure of themselves you got to be wary of them right but we all are grappling with these questions and then re grappling with it’s not like we answer them and then that answer is sufficient for the rest of our life as people of faith how do we speak across parties with kindness and empathy when so much of what is currently happening elicits indignation and fury from your talk today what are things that we as Americans Republicans and Democrats can implement the ideas that you discussed well I’m gonna I’m gonna tread again on your critique I mean listening can be a palliative and then and just to what the question calls up to mind this we have a tough challenge in our Wednesday prayer group in the Senate which is you know we got Republicans who look at some of us like how could you believe this how could you believe roe versus wade is good law I mean I don’t want to sit around the table at a religious event with somebody who thinks Roe versus Wade is a good lunch should be upheld and then you have folks on our side how can you not support marriage equality I don’t want to sit around the table with somebody who believes that an equal child of God should not be treated equally when it comes to marriage so we we have this tough challenge where we believe deeply in our own faith and we think our faith has some commands with respect to actions and policies and we’re sitting around the table with people who have very different views and and that means that oftentimes you’ll see these really interesting dips and who attends for you know for periods of time one side just want to tend so much and then we’ll come back and I mean I will say I think during the during the this administration it has been a real challenge for some Democrats to continue to attend it’s also been a real challenge for some of the Republicans who may support the president’s policies but their own religious beliefs cause it would be deeply critical of him and they just can’t believe somebody like this you know has been able to be President so it’s not it’s not easy and yet it’s interesting I and I had this when I was lieutenant governor governor I’m with this prayer group and these guys and many of the people in the caucus would never vote for me in anything I mean I had all these great bills education and I’m going to this meeting at 6:30 every Tuesday morning for God’s sake governor governor then I got this big thing up and you know and it’s it’s it’s a critical vote I think it’s really good not even a discussion open I’m voting against it but I remember once having that attitude and I think wait am I going here to get something political out of it or am I going here just to try to learn and once I realize if I’m attending this to get something political out of it like I think it’s a good way to maybe get another voter change then I’m coming from the wrong reason I should be coming to this just to again listen and then take the action that I think is right but there’s there’s something in here that I am going to learn from today and and I think that that’s the way we ought to treat each other across political divides cost religious divides across demographic divides in dialog as long as it’s not just hollow words there’s something I’m gonna learn and that’s something I’m gonna learn I can put into action in some way you know reminded me a little bit of I was talking a number of years ago with a leader of an evangelical NGO about the work they were doing in Pakistan and he was explaining to me why an organization like that would be welcome in Pakistan as opposed to USAID which has had a more torturous relationship and he said it was because they recognized despite the divergence and beliefs and practices that they shared values they didn’t share the same values they just shared the notion of a value of having values of a line in your life with values and it made me think of when you were talking about the love that you have for your own world the Catholic world a community a love for the people the practices the ideas and so forth and other people might have a very different notion of what theology is or what worship is but they also love their world and that we could share that love and share that notion of values even though the things we love and the things we value might be quite different that’s a cool thing and we can also help each other be better my mention of a very good friend here I guess I didn’t mention a very good friend who used to hello minister Jake Rubin some of you might know rabbi Jake rabbi Jake was a little kid in my neighborhood in his dad’s one of my best friends and Mark was my also my counsel when I was governor Mark’s very devoted to Judaism and I said man you make me a better cat every time I talk to you and you know and I hope that I may make you a better more observant seeking questing Jew every time you talk to me and I think that’s one thing we can do for each other we don’t have to use you know I get on my side no you you you’re on a fine side but maybe I can help you be even better at it and you can help me be better what I’m trying to do spiritual kind of studies is that all agree that we don’t humanize the other by dehumanizing them and part of what you’re doing by going to these prayer breakfasts is reka Minh izing people who your institution has come to a point Congress where Republicans dehumanize Democrats because they’re ostensibly pro-choice but you’re not and vice versa so coming close but then also with regard to listening listening to a point but also love is resistance and what strike me as what your father-in-law did what your father-in-law did is the beginning and he wasn’t reluctant yeah and what he did and your wife was one of the children who integrated schools in the state and the city in a city where we have servation academies that still persist his act was an act of love and resistance and he crossed him and that changed the nature of our party system in the country completely and we’re reaping that now but I want to say that listening can be a resistance but what we’re also committed to and what I hear you being committed to and your Catholic values is if standing between oppressor and oppressed means giving your life for by humanizing the other giving up your political career by making choices it sounds like you’re Catholic Catholic social teaching and those things that your life you’ve lived in a way that says to my students who are sitting there choosing to go to Honduras and living amongst people and learning from their oppressed position is the kind of thing that I want my students to hear so I’m really glad that you are here and living that example in Congress in a way that says humility speaks humility to an organization that seems to be about the opposite seems to be about to oppress so thank you for your example [Applause] Marisha Larissa proving that she’s a good Miller Center alumnus because Linwood Hoffman was instrumental to the founding of the Miller center so very well done and to that the final cluster of questions is the Miller center also studying possible future presidents as well as studying past and present question – will you run in question in run in 2020 question three who will be your running mate in twenty [Applause] once again I’m offering it to these folks to see take a crack at the question first I mean I’ll just I’ll be very candid I you know I was an amazing experience to be on a national ticket with Hillary Clinton who I think would have been a superb president but we lost right and you know we lost and it’s not the first time in life something that I really hoped would happen didn’t everybody in this room has had the experience of something not going your way there’s a fundamental part of life there is a plan and all of this that we are not read into and so I mean I it’s I did have the feeling a little bit of coming back after being on a ticket and feeling you know there’s no place like home there’s no place like Virginia and Virginia politics suddenly looked like really great compared to big there’s a lot of there’s a lot of politics an occupational hazard in politics is that it is that we overuse the word I me and mine as a very significant occupational hazard in politics and I have been able to have thus far a political career sometimes kind of accidentally in serendipitously where I think I have not had to overuse jaime and mine and the next level of politics is one where you it’s very hard it’s very hard to not do it if you if you can’t make your own story something you want to tell your own story a million times a days people connect with I have very big dreams and ambitions and yet my dreams and ambitions don’t really involve me that much they involved what I might do for somebody else but there I’m not in the middle of my own dreams and ambitions and so you know just from a character and personality standpoint having had the opportunity to be at sort of that different level I mean I kind of grapple as I’m not really sure that this is a fair but I’m so happy that I can that I can you know serve in the way that I do in in the community where I’ve lived for a long time so thank you for that [Applause] well senator and Chuck Larissa and David thank you and thank you all for coming out at the beginning of a hurricane we are we were fortunate to get this in and we hope that you all have a great weekend and join me in thanking the senator once again for the [Applause] [Applause]

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