“Sesame Street for Grown-ups.” That’s how Van Jones described his new television show on CNN in our conversation at SF Jazz on April 24th. “Children’s television is designed to help small people go out into a world they don’t understand, where there are bullies, divorces and funerals. The idea is that it prepares them to face hard things, find inspiration and do better.” His point was that we adults are also being thrown into a world we don’t understand, one with “robots, artificial intelligence, Nazis, and tweets.” According to Jones, most media doesn’t really help us all that much. If anything, it’s making us more divided and misinformed. There’s a lot of toxic chatter out there. Van’s vision is for “meaningful conversation without the mean.”
That’s how I would describe our conversation in April, meaningful without the mean. The evening embodied my hopes for this series: conversation for the common good. I encourage you to listen to the audio—Van talks about his Christian faith, why both the right and the left need to embrace religious liberty, why we need better Republicans and better Democrats, and how common pain and common problems can lead to shared solutions. It was an evening that was both inspiring and insightful. I hope you find the conversation encouraging. And do listen all the way to the end where you will see how I was totally punk’d by the internet!
Scot is the Executive Director of the Newbigin House of Studies. He oversees the Newbigin Fellowship, a nine-month intensive training program that seeks to provide a framework for wise integration of faith, work, and life, and hosts the speaker series Conversations For the Common Good.