Experience American “civil religion” at Civic Saturday/Tuesday
April 16th — “Civil religion” is one of the most important concepts in understanding politics in America. With Civil Saturdays, Indianapolis is one of a handful of cities experimenting with making transparent both its civil and the religious aspects. For those of us without free Saturdays, this month’s Civic Saturday is actually Civic Tuesday.
The idea of Civic Saturday
In a time of deep anxiety, disconnectedness, and political polarization, people need a place to come together in civic community—in a room face-to-face—to reflect on and rededicate ourselves to the values and practices of being a contributing member of civic life in the United States.
Civic Saturday is a gathering of friends and strangers in a common place to nurture a spirit of shared purpose. At the gathering we reflect and connect around the values and practices of being an active citizen, reckon with and reflect on our nation’s creed, and build civic fellowship to create new civic traditions that are joyful and communal.
Erin Kelley of Spirit & Place has been the driver of Civic Saturdays. They take place at public libraries, which could be seen as the temples of American “civil religion.” Civic Saturdays are an analogue to a faith gathering, but do not aim to replace faith traditions. Instead, the events serve as time for the public to nurture a spirit of shared purpose, to wrestle with moral questions, and to develop a sense of civic character. Using poetry, song, civic readings, a civic “sermon,” and conversing in Civic Circles at the end, Civic Saturdays strive to help people to show up for each other in civic life.
Now Erin announces:
For all of our friends who work on the weekends, Civic Saturday is back – on a Tuesday! Explore the American creed and how democratic values and principles such as liberty, equality, and self-government bind us together (even when we argue over them!).
The topic this Tuesday: Myth in Civic Life
Just as Americans are united around shared civic values, we are also united by shared myths.
From the story of George Washington and that cherry tree, Paul Revere’s midnight ride, and Molly Pitcher’s battlefield heroics, our nation’s origin stories are filled with great people doing great deeds. Are these stories true? Does it matter? (A myth may not be true, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a lie.)
What can we learn from these myths and which myths need reinvention so that we might craft a truly epic American tale that includes us all?
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us and bring a friend! (Especially one who doesn’t think exactly like you!)
Our advice: Go! And tell us what you think about the idea.