Common Ground Dialogue is the practical application of theoretical work in democracy and religion. Our aim is to encourage civility in political life, and our guiding principle is that high-quality civic engagement occurs when citizens are able to bring their deep convictions to the public square responsibly.
Founder of Common Ground Dialogue, Leonard McMahon is the host of several podcasts, moderator for workshops and public speaker for numerous organizations, churches, and conferences worldwide.
God and Democracy
Curated by Soul Forum, the God and Democracy series includes interviews with three distinguished academics in our body politic today. Join Leonard McMahon from Common Ground Dialogue for conversations on religion, race, gender, law, social policy, critical theory, and mass media as we approached perhaps the most momentous election of the modern era. Each scholar brought not only theoretical expertise but a deep commitment to our democracy and an abiding concern for the shape it is in today.
Prof. Katie Walker Grimes
Prof. Sharon Jacob
The Pacific School of Religion
The UC Berkeley School of Law
Spiritual Care and Ethical Leadership for Our Times
This Graduate Theological Union series delves into how individuals, communities, organizations, and governments worldwide have been navigating a global pandemic, widespread injustice, heartbreaking violence and other unprecedented challenges over the past year.
Workshops & Conferences
Shalem Group Spiritual Direction Workshop Facilitator
Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation
Faith, Freedom, and the Future: The Ethics of the Gig Economy
The International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences (IISES) conferences
Paris, Rome, Amsterdam
(converted to virtual events)
How Far is Too Far? The Identity Politics of Martin Luther and Maximus the Confessor
Cambridge Institute on Religion & International Studies Conference: Nationalism, Populism and Protestant Political Thought
Minnesota Workshop Facilitator
Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality, st Paul MN
Contemplation and Community: A Gathering of Fresh Voices for a Living Tradition (Book Launch) @ Carondelet Center
Who Do You Say I Am? Identity, Democracy, and Crisis in the 21st Century
Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) conference
The Spirit of Truth: A Foucauldian Reading of Quaker Spirituality
Spirituality in Society and the Professions (SPES) conference
Pride of Place: An Anselmian Interpretation of Church and Migrant
12th International Gathering of the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network at the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s College
John Woolman and Confrontational Kindness
The American Academy of Religion, Western Region Annual Conference at the Jodo Shinshu Center
We offer consultation services, one day, and three-day workshops; in each the basics of the Method are taught sufficiently to allow for ongoing practice. The longer the workshop, the more solid the foundation, which is par for the course since these techniques were originally designed by ancient philosophers and monastics, people who dedicated their lives to personal transformation. We believe that what they discovered is urgently needed in our time and circumstances, and so we crafted the Truth Method to bring classical spiritual resources into contact with 21st century needs.
Consultation services can be customized to include an introductory lecture, a brief overview of the basic method, and one practice session. Questions may of course be asked throughout but the focus is on getting acquainted with the basics as quickly as possible. Consultations are also a good refresher and provide the opportunity to address specific concerns for persons or groups who have already completed a workshop.
Half-day workshops involve an introductory lecture with greater detail as to history and sources, an overview of the method, a brief break, and then an opportunity to work on a specific conflict involving three to four practice sessions with participants who are in conflict, and a detailed question and answer period.
Full-day workshops are intended for groups in severe crisis who must work a conflict until it is rendered productive. It involves all the elements of a half-day workshop with a break between several practice sessions. Designed to address the concerns of all participants who are in conflict, the aim here is a shift from harmful discord to productive disagreement.
Common Ground Dialogue is an organization dedicated to improving civility and civic engagement in American political life. Its aim is not “conflict resolution” because, while laudable and necessary, this is shortsighted and misguided. Conflict is necessary and even desirable in a healthy democracy, so “resolving” it is not appropriate. Rather, our aim is to make conflict function as it is supposed to in a democracy, as an impetus for engagement. Thus, civility is the use of healthy functional conflict to generate constructive political engagement. Political life then moves from harmful discord to productive disagreement. And it does so via a process we call the Truth Method.
The Truth Method
This method is easily learned and, unlike most resolution techniques, difficult to forget. Since it relies on ancient techniques that have been tested over centuries, the Method seeks deeper and more lasting transformation than mere crisis management of conflict resolution methods. This Method takes ancient tools and adapts them for modern circumstances and psyches. It involves a safe, supportive, and patient process of slowly deepening awareness and allowing one to touch the unspoken ground upon which one’s opinions stand.
A unique feature of the method is that this exploration is done in tandem with a guide via dialogue, and this allows for a more significant spiritual growth because the presence of another person keeps one from confusing pleasant feelings with real growth. The Truth Method is a genuine process for those seeking genuine personal, group, and societal change.
ABOUT LEONARD MCMAHON
Doctoral Program, Graduate Theological Union
University of California, Berkeley
Spirituality, theology, religion and history, politics and culture
Master of Arts, Religious Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
Religion and culture, politics, American history, pluralism
Master of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Religion and society, religious pluralism and democracy
Newhall Award Recipient from the Graduate Theological Union for collaborative teaching that highlights the innovative work happening throughout the GTU
Jonathan M. Daniels Fellowship Recipient for development of a teen and young adult religious education curriculum at Eliot Church of Roxbury, MA