Over the last year, I have done a lot of thinking about how society is increasingly polarized, and how Christians get caught up in that trend. Two or three of my efforts to build bridges have been clumsy, and I regret the damage that did. But I don’t think ANYONE has this totally figured out; even the smartest, most spiritually mature people I know sometimes blunder in this area. We’re all slightly myopic (I prefer that to the unnecessarily harsh “blind”). Here are some illustrations that I came up with in the process:
I am just about finished reading an EXCELLENT book by Brian Loritts: Insider Outsider: My Journey as a Stranger in White Evangelicalism and My Hope for Us All. I expect to write more about this book later, but here is a graphic that came to mind while reading this morning. In part, the graphic reflects my gratitude for Loritts’ skillful enlightenment, but it also reflects an insistence on probing deeper for the causes of what Loritts describes.
While Loritts hasn’t touched much on polarization yet in the book, I do think polarization is affecting how readily we embrace one sin or another: if “our side” is for it, then we aren’t going to bad-mouth it, are we? If “our side” is unsympathetic to the suffering of others, then maybe we’ll be just fine with an unloving attitude. If “our side” is for downplaying sexual immorality, then maybe we’ll make sure we aren’t the kind of prudes who are repulsed by sexual immorality.
Reflecting on Loritts’ book also prompted this comment to a friend (how the comment relates to the above is something I haven’t worked out yet, but AM working on!):
I’m trying hard to understand the intersection of Kingdom and culture. That is, which kinds of thinking are RIGHT (aligning with the Kingdom of God), which are WRONG (driven by Satan’s purposes), and which are merely DIFFERENT (benign cultural preferences). In this regard, [name] and I have both found Jonathan Haidt very helpful.
– email to a friend
I know this is undeveloped thinking, but I welcome interaction with friends (and not-yet friends) who would like to reflect on their own journey of self-inspection. How are YOU finding yourself influenced by good, evil, and the indifferent benign*?
*Different from Camus’ “benign indifference?” Let’s think about that…
This book, dedicated to my fellow recovering perfectionists, makes an almost perfect Christmas gift. Available wherever perfect books are sold!
Susan Hepp reminded me to demonstrate how “perfectly” I have mastered the art:
My coworker was a lot of fun to work with. We agreed most of the time. But not always. When I denounced a “Good Ol’ Boy Network,” he could not understand. For him, a network of such likeable people was surely a good thing! And he could get angry over strange things, like the time I took a heel from the loaf of bread…