In Search of Common Ground
Leonard McMahon is currently pursuing his doctorate in political theology at the GTU. His claim is that religion, properly framed, can be an impetus for civic engagement. McMahon argues that when religion is experienced as contingent and not absolute, it becomes a resource for democracy. In fact, as “proof of concept,” he recently formed his own consultancy firm, Common Ground Dialogue, to be the public face of his research in theology, ethics, and classical to early Christian spirituality. From this, McMahon has adapted an ancient contemplative method for modern use. His probing, inquisitive method gently leads politically divergent citizens into a feeling of mutuality, authenticity, and contingency; no attempt is made to change anyone’s views, but the tone has softened and differences may be explored without defensiveness or violent conflict. Thus, discourse is improved, and our democracy is strengthened.
I am gratified but not surprised that I am at this innovative point in my work. Frankly, at the GTU, it could not have turned out any other way.
McMahon got the idea this spring while working as teaching assistant for a course on social entrepreneurship. It is courses like this, and opportunities like his podcast series and this Project, that allow the GTU to make good on its promise to “translate scholarship into solutions with impact.” Its uniquely collaborative history makes it the ideal hub for issues of religion and public life and a living example of pluralism and democracy. Nurtured in an atmosphere of interreligious dialogue, McMahon is "gratified but not surprised that I am at this innovative point in my work. Frankly, at the GTU, it could not have turned out any other way."
View Leonard McMahon's interview below. Listen to the extended interview by clicking here.