tv Fmr. Gov. Bill Haslam Faithful Presence CSPAN December 30, 2021 8:45pm-9:31pm EST
story and on sundays book tv brings you nonfiction books and authors print funding for cspan2 comes from these television companies and more including carter communications. >> charter is invested billions building infrastructure upgrading technology, empowering opportunity in communities big and small. charter is connecting us for. >> charter communications along with these television companies support cspan2 as a publicu service. >> hello my name is nathan buttery. on behalf i would like to welcome you to the festival of books here in nashville, tennessee. whether watching is online or joining us later on c-span with got a great session for you today and we are glad you're with us. before we start i like to thank a few of the festival key sponsors for the ongoing support. the metro nashville arts
commission the content group the c tennessee commission, vanderbilt university, parnassus books we are grateful for your continued support. thank you for everything you do to help us make this a great festival every year but if you purchase books you see featured here at the festival we encourage you to do that during the parnassus book link in the facebook or youtube chat section. sales through parnassus vaux help support the festival and make it free. we have a special s guest today are authors a former two-term mayor of knoxville informant to turn governor of tennessee during his tenure tennessee become the fastest andte proving state in the country in the k-12 education the first to provide free community collegeor or technical school for all its citizens. in addition debt informant 75000 new jobs. serves on the board of directors for teach america he
is and his wife have three children and ten grandchildren. he is here today to discuss his new book faithful presence they promise in farrell in the public square he's also my former boss in a special guest today bill haslam welcome to the festival of books. >> thank you for including me i'm not used to having people introduce me as an author. when you say and authors during us and i'm think fine one who is joining us on the used to be in the other side it's fun to ram this side of this thing for. >> you are welcome that's cool at the festivals like the u.s. open, one vote get you qualified. [laughter] >> that's probably good thing in my case. >> one of the things about this session we need to talk about his time. got about 30 minutes here to talk. i thought we could jump right
in. i readoo your book i read a couple of times. i have some general questions i thought would be interesting may be for our viewers and for me in general. just to start us off your comment tell me what it is like to write the book and why you chose this topic and this time to do it? >> like just about everybody else in america i am frustrated by what i see happening in our political arena. not just the polarization of the partisanship because i b might argue that's not all that new. but with the hatred and that is not too strong of a word that exist today but the feeling each side has to their brethren something called motivation attribution of symmetry how much not just you disagree with the other side but you think the other side is doing what they are doing believes what they do for bad motives. the motivation attribution
wasn't greater between the republicans and democrats in that between israelis and palestinians. this animosity toward the other side inn this sense in an argument or discussion was told to not getet to the right answer concerns all of us. ari wrote the book more pointedly toward people of faith whether being the salt and light particulate for christians that jesus asks us to be, i feel people things i can just like everybody else the public square. what is the problem and what might it look like to be different? >> based on your experiencee as governor, report just in life as far as political service is
concerned can you share some examples of where you were called into a situation where you had to have aua faithful presence and what that looked like and maybe what the alternative was if you'd chosen to not be the faithful presence you're referring to in the book? >> i guess part of it would be having a faithful presence mean not just in the big decisions and get a lot of attention but in what we do every day. while in my argument is here here's what i think it might look like in the public square, i argue that same thing if you are y a teacher or hospitalr administrator work on assembly line there is a way to think about what we are called to do. i'm going to come back and answer question in a second period think part of the problem particular in politics we thank you so much about i'm a christian so what is the
christian position on this issue? you see things are really clear. we are supposed to be concerned for the poor we are supposed to feed the poor. it does not tell us how to do that. and so i think in the book let's be a faith we know this is really clear that is not up for debate. we want how do we do that when terms of an economic system i think is up for debate. that's what we should engage to get to the best answer. what circumstances i'm called i have a faithful presence, part of having a faithful present as having humility to know you might not be rights. my first ever political boss as an internas in college and united states senate from
tennessee became majority leader f of the senate, went to beat reagan's chief of staff and ambassador to japan under george h.w. bush. baker had a saying that said always remember the other fellow might be right he was a little town north of knoxville i was his way of saying it in every discussion of going to work my hardest to remember i have my answer here i need to walk into it with the realization i might not have this exactly right. and so what happened as governor within her own team with staff okay that'ser really what's the administration's position. i learned quickly that did not get us to the best answer. so an example i might not
always be right or moving my chair from the head of the table we had our senior staff meetings to the middle of the table so i get make certain they did not cut off the discussion pretty learned really quick if it was the answer i walked to the door with, that wasn't going to be as good as the answer that all of us could walk out of the door with. >> that is true. talking about anxiety you got a couple of sections in a your book here some on anxiety, some on humility. we know anxiety and pride have a negative impact on us and our personal lives and how we act politically in a competitive political climate what are some ways we can win if you are trying to get your idea out there and compete and put forth a good argument, how is the best way to do that
with humility and meekness question ricky mentioned us two things in the book. >> week does not mean week. jesus said blessed are the meek they will inherit the earth. but also paul tells timothy we have been not been given. we know meek does not mean week. what it does mean with humility is a sense of, i know i don't get things right all the time. just today it would be 200763 pretty much doing not much. so if i know that's true my personal life i know that cann be true i think the thing is that doesn't mean were supposed to surrender the
argument and say whatever you think is right. we are supposed to be about truth. we work hard to get to the truth we work hard to get to the answer that will save the most people. least have to go about it without a sense of somebody on the other side of me are not the bad guy paid the person on the other side is not the bad guy. the bad guys probably are trying to solve. the bad guys too many people don't have an education that's going to preparen them for the rest of their life. too many people don't have a job that can help feed their family. those are the issues. folks have a different approach to but as long something there the bad guys were not going togu have a discussion that will lead us to a better place. >> in other words that is from both sides. hopefully those republicans
will see the democrats are not all bad guys or vice versa rate what my sense is was motivation and symmetry both sides think and the other folks are bad f guys. >> when i read it it's not about political theories it's not one side or the other it is about posture or at least read that way to me. what posture are you in when you engage in the public square? and why is it that all the sudden our gloves come off when we are in politics as opposed to when we are buying something or anywhere but. >> your question, why do we t need to say were going to put the wheels of how we act on hold that is kind of the question. why do we say that? i think there are two reasons,
one speaking of face in terms of approaching it as an christian.an you can go to retreats and sunday school classes and sessions galore here is what it looks like to raise your children in a christian home. even if you are a business person hears what it looks like to be a business person in today's market. what we don't have much of it is here is what it is to act like a christian in the public square. you don't hear a lot of sermons about that maybe one or two. you certainly we don't have a lot of conferences and retreats about that. we have conferences about how do we win on this issue?
we haven't developed a theology of politics the higher view of how god sees this arena, how should we react? we haven't really developed a theology. the second is this and i am betting might know you've heard a lot of this just really, really mad and is famous for have civilized conversations with people who did not want to have a nscivilized conversation. the people in the point where this the stakes are too high. we cannot act we cannot act because the stakes are so high the other side is not going to
unilaterally disarm. if we all the sudden start planning in a way that is humble and i think gives the other side when they do is wrong the point i want to bring up again, we don't say in business you need to act ethically as a christian believer in lesser companies getting ready to go out of business than in that case do whatever you need. we don't say in marriage you promised to be faithful to your wife as long as you both shall live. but let's suspend all of that stuff if the person in the office next she was really hot. we don't give our selves passes if you will in other areas but we haven't politics. and we justifyus it by saying there's so much at stake, this matters so much that we have to play to win.
>> you mention in your book and use your students as an example how they are often willing to see the ills of an institution or an organization but it comes to personalizing it, not quite as easy. >> we talked particularly today about issues around systemic racism or systemic social injustice. that is real in mye. opinion. we have places where injustices become part of the system or part of an institution. i think it's harder for us to drill down. that system started was somebody like us making that first step in a way that was not just, didn't show any kind of mercy. that became perpetuated. if that's true to the systems built up its true the things we do in our lives as well. : t : o in our lives as well.
here's the truth on that and here's what i think. >> everybody around us thinks like we do. that's where it really comes in. everybody doesn't think like i do with the need to understand some really great professors that teach you to learn by making the best argument and what is it that is drawing people to word of that point of view. particularly there are things that are more southern tradition
kindth of southern hospitality f you will. that is the tradition. it's recognizing the impression on the other side of the table and the opportunities here. >> there is a good book often used in schools that talks about negotiations, getting to know the people you're working with and that may help the process along. in the book you refer to different religious thinkers. how is their political and then
how applicable are the lessons today? >> one of thehe reasons i love things like this festival that remind people the value of great books, other things it's a different place and time with many of the same things trying to abolish slavery and spends most of hisnd adult life somethg like 20 times. the assistance and people working with him and if you move the arguments back and forth at that time how did it take them
so long then we read the arguments backro and forth. a lot of the writings were during world war ii. that sounds great but that's not the real world we live in or on a regular basis so the ability in very different times and situations is one of the important things to many don't take advantage off.
things on the topic you kind of dive into it a little further i remember when you were governor, a certain number but i'm curious what the number was and are you still moving at that pace? >> about two and a half books a month. i didn't want to make it to where my life was so full. so it was something i wanted to study and learn more about.
some were a great novel that could take your brain someplace else at the end of the day and a lot of great books to do take you to a place outside. a. >> do you read fiction and nonfiction? >> i read both. i read more now because i have some more time than i did when i was in office. i love history and fiction and books that try to explain something i'm trying to figure out. if it's history related in something addressing a subject that i am trying to wrestle through. >> do people recommend books to
you? when you're in office there is a closet full of books to understand the argument they are coming from if the governor would just read this book so there is a lot of those and then a lot of authors that read the book and maybe he will tell people about it. i've always been one to go through book reviews i read a book reviews in the newspaper and i just love wandering through books [inaudible]
>> there is a lot of authorsho d readers who attended the session and i'm curious what was your experience writing a book about something you're passionate about and what could you share or tell? >> the sources when you're putting them down. i keep finishing the chapter to go back and find that article or where that quote was in the
underlined when i was reading the book and i will give you a couple examples. that i thought just to stand out. real leadership is about connecting legitimate problems facing the reality and working to solve those problems. another example of a sentence like that a statement or almost a conclusion knowing that the church today can and should be people known for l entering the public square with humility rather than pride and arrogance. it's simply the only way.
leadership is about solving problems was one of my main motivators for writing the book. today's politics we've gotten to where the folks get the attention people think of as a strong mayor, governor to make those statements people. who sees the problem that i do. most the time of the statements are doing nothing to solve the problem. they are stating the obvious and in a way that leaves other folks
going finally, way to go. you told it like it is but that is not a solvable problem. not just who is saying things these are hard issues and i'm afraid we flood rhetoric overcome resume is it anything like the one they are addressing now so that's part of the thing i wanted to make certain i talk about in the book.
the second idea is one that i kind of coalesced around the more i wrote and thought this is exactly how i feel. the difference of someone who makes a great punchline or says something that rallies people but not necessarily about solving problems. you write we cannot react out of hostility to those who differ when we are supposed to love our enemies. if we are going to have a facebook presence it can't be marked by fear of our changing circumstances and anger at the people who think differently than we do. >> we are reacting out of fear and i know as christians we are told don't fear more than almost anything else in the bible.
we know it is a bad place to p come from. the second thing is this idea of the person on the other side that they are the bad guys. if the person on the other side is as we believe they are if they are created in the image of god, i have to look at them in a whole different way than i do if i don't believe that and as christians that is a fairly fundamental truth all men are created in the image of god. if that's true, then that person in my neighborhood that has the your design i can't believe they are supporting that candidate or the person sending out these tweets that drive me crazy for the nightly news show i want to yell at the tv about because i can't believe they are saying that i can't react in the same way if i think the person on the
other side is created on the image of god. it doesn't mean we are supposed to be moshe, whatever. we are people of the truth and it should be about getting to answers that a serve people wel. i have strong views about what does and doesn't do that, but i can't if i'm saying i'm a christian i can't approach the argument is if the person on the other side is not created in the image of god. it's interesting if you read about the civil rights movement, one of the interesting quotes is about how much of the civil rights movement is rooted, the foundations are all about that idea created in the image of god.
it's the argument about why the racism they were working to end was so wrong. >> you mentioned the portrayal of politics into people involved in politics. what would you say to people of faith who feel like they have a contribution to make but feel likefu the climate is one that isn't ready to listen to what they maydd have to share or may not be useful or interesting if you will? >> or in addition to everything you listed that i heard most frequently, it's i don't want to do it. the whole thing turns me off and it feels like a pox on both of their houses. i'm frustrated with both sides.
luther said send your very best. the ambiguities of the public arena are such that we need our very best people to be a part of that. i think i would say this, the verse that actually got me to first decide to run for mayor which led to running for governor is in the book of jeremiah. people are being held captive in israel, i'm sorry, in babylon. it's one of the worst of all time and jeremiah is back in jerusalem and i always tell folks if i'm being held captive somewhere i hope when you write me you say i'm coming to get you, bill. jeremiah basically says get use to it, you're going to be there a while.
then he says build homes, plant gardens. have your children marry. then he says seek the welfare of the place that i've called you for in its welfare you will find your peace. what do you mean no welfare of the place we called, we are being kept slaves. what do you mean seek the welfare of this place and i must created to many of us have reacted by saying this is a horrible -- look at what our culture has degraded to. listen to the state of the country. the message back to us is the same one they sent we are supposed to seek the welfare of the place. to make sure we have the best
government in place possible. one of the biggest things i learned in office is how much difference it makes having the right person on the school board or county commission with state legislature and the governor's office and present in the white house. all of that matters more than i thought and i thought it was important before then. if we do care about the world that god has asked us to go to seek the welfare piece ifit you will s then one of the ways we n best serve that is in the public arena and exam area that if our response is to say away with all of it i'm going to go worry about eternal things, i think we are missing part of what our calling is. >> there is another section that sums that up.
at the end of chapter 12 it is for a time like this that christians are being called to the public square but not in the ways we've traditionally approached it. for people that understand it's just accompaniedru by a humble spirit and require citizens who are committed to both truth and love, not one oror the other. it can be people that seek the truth of the places we've been exiled knowing that god has tied our welfare to the welfare of the places he's called us. >> that is the argument i was just making. when i speak to audiences, it's more of a religious situation people are coming at it with a faith angle.
he always starts with religious people. that famous scene where they bring the woman whose been called in adultery eventually gets to her and says go and sin no more but first deals with the religiouss type sam says which everer is without sin cast the first stone. in matthew when jesus gives a sermon, the most famous sermon ever, he talks aboutut christias are supposed to be salt and light. in those days, salt was a preservative to keep the meat from going bad. today in the world i think christians are looking out saying canan you believe how horrible the culture has gotten and where we are as a country.
i think the words would be that's what the salt is supposed to be doing if the meat is going bad don't blame the media. if the meat went bad if the power went out and the refrigerator quit working and we came in after being on vacation it would be like saying i can't believe those great steaks went bad. we would be saying the freezer didn't do its job. that's what jesus is saying. it's gone bad of the world around you looks bad. it's because the salt has lost its saltiness and the same thing he said don't blame the darkness you're supposed to be the light we had a column of my book is to think through what does it mean toto be salt and light in a word
that feels very contentious and hateful and seems just trying to win the argument? >> we are coming here close to the endh of the discussion. we've known each other about 12 years together in different staff. i'm curious now that you look back what surprises you the most about all that's happened? i literally would walk up the of the capital thinking i can't believe i get to do this.
could that be what i was talking about a second ago all of this matters more than we think in terms of electing the right people. i still want to somebody that addresses a the economy in all different issues but even more now and in a divided world like ours, solving problems means the ability to listen and understand the other side and to be committed to getting the best
answer. that was the big truth i walked out of the office with. >> thank you so much for being with us and sharing your book. thank you for joining us. if you would like to get a copy please use the link to do that. if you want to donate please feel free to go to the website. there's ways to do that. thank you for your time. >> great to see you again. >> thanks.