Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Great Divides

I’m sitting trying to be quiet this morning. It’s hard. Lots going through my mind these days. I’ve been thinking, particularly, about what I call the ‘great divides’. And there are many of them.

Rich and poor.

Conservative and liberal.

East and West

Black and White

English speaking and non-English speaking

Developed world and Developing World

Protestant and Catholic

Evangelical and Mainline

Citizen and immigrant

Christian and Jew and Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist

Secularism and Faith

Many have firm opinions about all of this. They’ve constructed a version of the truth about these things that allows them to live with a sense of surety. Others just flat out don’t care about any of it. Their world is narrow, focused on the kingdom of ‘me’.

I find myself living in the midst of the divide much of the time. I try to make sense out of what appears to be a myriad of logical and even faith inspired choices. And so I feel like I’m slogging at times. At times, I even find myself spinning around unsure of what I should be feeling or thinking.

And while I slog and spin the divides don’t seem to close but they seem to get wider and wider. As a result, we move further apart. There’s danger in our isolation. We end up listening to voices we agree with and who rile us up but don’t cause us to think and to pray.

I think it’s important to know what we believe and why. I think we fall short of that in our culture. We don’t know a lot.

One of the issues in the church is that our people are biblically illiterate and unaware of the movements of the Spirit in days past.

In our country too few have a deep understanding of the history and philosophy of our great democratic movement. And our understanding of the greater history of the world is next to nothing.

When we travel we often stay close to ‘tourism’ and never encounter the heartbeat of a country.

When we read we only grab what we agree with and often never venture into the interesting world of the other viewpoint.

We make comments about the immigrant but never strike up a conversation with the worker we suspect might be ‘illegal’.

And when our neighborhoods become too integrated the tendency is to move.

We claim to love God but don’t show it when tensions are high and opinions are mixed.

In other words, we’re becoming soft, less interesting, lacking depth and perspective. We have opinion but lack engagement. And it’s killing us. The divides become wider and become a no-man’s land filled with verbal battles, threats, rumor and innuendo. And in some places it goes beyond a war of words and into a world that’s filled with real bullets, landmines, and oppression.

And so I’m asking myself. What would God have me do? Is it enough to blog and post pithy things on my Facebook page? Or is there more?

I think there is more.

How can I become better read, more thoughtful, more prayerful, and more engaged? Maybe that’s something you can ask yourself. You see, these divides are becoming problems. Polarization is occurring. People are getting angry. Anger leads to all kind of ugly things.

By the way, none of this means that someone doesn’t have an opinion, or fights for their point of view. Not at all. But I have a hunch we could do a better job of listening to, learning from, and engaging each other. We’ve got to. There’s a lot at stake.

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