I’ve decided to make a slight shift in my blog. Rather than sit back and wait for readers to submit questions, I’m going to occasional offer reflections on things that catch my attention. In those cases, after sharing the resource I’ll pose questions for the readers to consider. Hopefully, this will be a helpful way to get my interactive blog going again.
I ran across an interesting article on the NPR website titled “Pastoring a Purple Church: ‘I Absolutely Bite My Tongue Sometimes’.” Here’s a link to the article: Pastoring a Purple Church.
I know that some might read the article and go after Christopher Edmonston (the senior pastor of White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, North Caroline) for having the nerve to bite his tongue. After all, we live in a brutally polarized age where some expect those with whom they agree to speak in sharp – even incredibly shrill! – ways to attack those who have the nerve to see things differently than them. Anyone who does NOT sharply attack those who see things differently is immediately seen as a morally inferior person who is selling out her or his authentic beliefs for self-serving reasons.
I suppose that might be the case for some – but certainly not for all.
What interests me more, however, were two paragraphs toward the middle of the article.
A recent report by the Barna Group, a faith-based research organization, highlighted a growing tendency for people to seek “communities that look and believe as they do” and noted that the trend was especially evident among the most frequent churchgoers.
“One of the features we see in our research is that congregations aren’t as politically diverse as they used to be,” says Barna Group President David Kinnaman. “That’s not to say that they were ever bastions of political diversity, but at least there was a sense in which you could worship together with people who were very different from you politically.”
While those words were written to reflect the political beliefs of those in worshipping communities, the same point could be made on several other levels: including theologically. Absolute homogeneity in belief is increasingly becoming “the new normal”.
With those words in mind, I would be interested to hear reflections on two things. First, why it is that we as a people are less willing to sit next to/be in meaningful relationship with those who hold different beliefs than ourselves. Second, what can we – as individuals – do to help change that. Please, please, please don’t talk about what OTHERS should do, here. Instead, focus on what YOU can do. I ask that of my readers because I believe the incredibly polarized way-of-being which has seized control of our world today can only be broken when brave individuals step forward and have the courage to make the first move (and not hang back in a self-righteous manner while demanding “the other side” make the first move).
Thanks, in advance, for whatever reflections you are willing to share.