Saturday, March 31, 2012

YDA Faith and Values Summit

Dear readers, here is another diversion from the main content... with recent events taking hold of my blog again, as I must share with you a wonderful conference I attended last week!

Opening reception at the National Democratic Club
 The YDA Faith and Values Summit (a historic first, incidentally) was remarkably good and productive by my present estimation. As some of you know, I joined the party a couple of years ago for various reasons. One of the things that has sadly come from this has been unfair discrimination from secularists inside the party and from religious people outside the party.

Morning sessions in the auditorium
 Despite the attempts at stereotype, I have been really pleased over the last couple years to have met many people of faith, both people of surprisingly old-fashioned views and completely new ones. With efforts like this weekend, my hope is that attacks against people of faith will be deflected in the future to some extent. I came away confident that there are many people who genuinely care and want to respect each other within the party, even when there are significant disagreements.

Afternoon Sessions on Saturday
30 second participant bios and testimonies, public speaking practice

My belief is that there is a movement within the party not simply to sugarcoat the message (as some in the other party would like to suggest) but to honestly have a conversation about how our faith and values should impact our decisions in public policy. 

To tell you the truth, I had some of the best discussions, debates, and conversations I've had a in a while at this conference! This was also the least judgmental and most sane YD conference I've ever been to, which was really encouraging. I would go as far as to say that if this were a model for how our political groups functioned generally, we'd be a much better country for it. I've made many new friends and good contacts as well as refreshed longstanding friendships and acquaintances in the process. 
Sunday afternoon sessions with lobbying and public information organizations
 After the conference, I went with a new friend, Kate, to visit the Smithsonian... we checked out the exhibit about Jefferson's Monticello and Bible... you should check out these exhibitions!

Thomas Jefferson's Bible

Source books for Jefferson's tome, and an early reprint of the volume

Capitol as seen at night on the National Mall