Laying claim to moral values 

Contrary to conservative jargon, moral values aren’t like lost dogs: You can’t just adopt them and declare them yours; they might belong to someone else.

Such is the spirit behind the League of Liberal Advocates’ (LOLA) May 19 forum titled “Morality Beyond Party Politics: Practicing Moral Values in the Missoula Community.” The free non-partisan event, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the third-floor conference room of the Missoula Children’s Theatre, will “bring together articulate people to showcase this idea of moral values not being something that belongs to the right wing in America,” says LOLA founding member and UM English professor Jocelyn Siler. The goal of the forum, she says, is to “have a conversation about moral values, and hopefully out of that conversation will come specific things that [Missoulians] can do in the community that will allow them to put their moral values into practice.”

Talks by UM Regents Professor of Philosophy Albert Borgmann, University Congregational Church of Christ Pastor Peter Shober, and Women’s Voices for the Earth’s National Programs Director Bryony Schwann will be followed by smaller group discussions aimed at stimulating conversation among audience members.

Borgmann says his talk, tentatively titled “Two Versions of Happiness,” will use the Reserve Street shopping strip and the Osprey ballpark as examples of two versions of happiness: Reserve Street centered on consumption, the ballpark on celebration. The gist, he says, is that while consumptive happiness may be created quickly, celebratory happiness—which takes more fortitude to establish—is ultimately more satisfying. With his talk, Borgmann says he hopes “to reach a level of discourse that goes beyond the obvious liberal/conservative divides.”

Shober says he will be “talking about the reality that there are traditions of faith that stand as stark alternatives to the values that some people say are normative.” There are many people of faith, he points out, who believe in a woman’s right to reproductive choice, in equal rights for gays and lesbians, and that worldwide military intervention is inappropriate.

LOLA’s May 19 event is an opportunity for members of the community to weigh in: Are moral values black and white, liberal or conservative, or do they come in shades of gray?

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