A Conversation in Tennessee: Inspirations from Bill Haslam, Worst Day in Power, Hopes for America | Politics
The First Presbyterian Church in downtown Knoxville hosted former Knoxville Mayor and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on September 16 as he met with retired Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade to discuss of his new book, “Faithful Presence: The Promise and the Peril of Faith in the Public Square.
Haslam’s novel relishes religion’s presence in politics, describes his greatest inspirations as an American family man and politician, and discusses his most difficult decisions as governor of Tennessee.
Judge Gary Wade opened the conversation with a brief introduction to the book.
â’Faithful Presence’ tells us not only about the current political climate, but also about Bill Haslam,â Wade said.
âI don’t know if I would have run for mayor or governor without my faith,â Haslam said.
Justice Wade asked for clarification on many of Haslam’s greatest inspirations, including Abraham Lincoln, CS Lewis, and Nelson Mandela. Haslam emphasized his affinity for former President Abraham Lincoln.
âHe has held the country together with a strength and a conviction that we would all like to see again today,â Haslam said.
Wade referred to Lincoln’s âHouse Dividedâ speech which urged American citizens to understand that the country cannot survive half free and half slave. Wade asked Haslam what he thought of his return to this divided place today.
âI think we are. The motivational attribution asymmetry between Republicans and Democrats is greater than that between Israelis and Palestinians, âHaslam said.
Haslam also spoke about his belief in Nelson Mandela’s model of forgiveness, noting that using Mandela’s ideals is a good model for us today.
Yet at times Haslam had to put his own beliefs aside, making decisions for the betterment of the state of Tennessee. When asked if the Bible should be the State Book, his answer was no, because although he has a personal connection with God, he felt that making the Bible the State Book crossed a line into useless territory.
The couple went on to discuss the toughest days of the former governor in office. For Haslam, deciphering his worst days was simple: the three executions were scheduled.
Cyntoia Brown’s case and Haslam’s decision to grant clemency were the subject of an entire chapter of her new book. When asked about Brown’s impact on him, he noted that he felt incredibly grateful to have met someone who had such a great influence on him.
âIn life, your story often intersects with that of other people, but you don’t really see other people’s side,â Haslam said.
âI’m a very privileged white male from Tennessee, a biracial adopted child who grew up in Middle Tennessee, our background couldn’t have been more different. But you really saw what Paul talks about in the Bible, “it all goes away and you are one in Christ,” and it was just this amazing privilege to see the other side of the tapestry that you didn’t. not have. see normally, âHaslam said.
As Wade and Haslam finished the conversation, Haslam faced the question of America’s future. Haslam declared his response confidently.
âHumility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking less of yourself, and I think that would be a pretty healthy prescription for us today,â Haslam said.