Aren’t these odd times with so MANY divisions … or are They?

There is a deep emotional space within most of us where our psyche seems programmed to receive and process information about life with an either-or type of explanation.  We are taught at an early age; the answer is always X or Y; A or B; Yes or No! “Use this approach to resolve issues to keep things on the straight and narrow.” Then, as we mature and are blessed to interact with different people and be exposed to diverse opinions, we come to understand that few things in life land in these extremely defined zones with “black and white” clarity for bringing issues to needed resolutions. There is always … this grey area.  Grey area, an ill-defined landing place with options or a field not readily conforming to a category or to an existing set of rules![1]

Some spend years upon years attempting to analyze information with pre-programmed answers much like a popular Progressive Insurance commercial that aired over the summer … if you have tattoos, you don’t work; at a neighborhood gathering if you say “make me a burger” to the neighbor overseeing the outdoor grill, the reply comes as if you literally want to become a burger. Is the life we live, regardless of our zip code, really that one-dimensional? Is this quest to grab perfect harmony and balance an odd illusion?

Our leaders have a track record of side-stepping realities resulting from one-dimensional decisions made about war, immigration, poverty, discrimination, racism … and the list goes on.  Decisions have far reaching and long-lasting impact. Let’s not disregard the existence of hidden situations or circumstances that are not readily available for us to apply public scrutiny. Our life’s decisions could well be like those of the main characters in “All the Light We Cannot See” (Anthony Doerr), we live and move in ways that project investment in a certain way of seeing complex things with an eye for simplicity.  In this novel it becomes increasingly clear that “science” can be twisted and manipulated too.[2]  

When we hear about or experience circumstances contrary to our pre-programmed protocol for what we deem a perfect balance, we build a reservoir and fill it with “oh that’s unusual” or place it in our “odd” column to fuel unproductive dialogue and criticism. Most ordeals seem simplistic when we are using the iceberg mentality to address problems. This mentality allows us to rationalize the way we “think” things get done (surface) rather than reach to a level of understand of the way things are accomplished (below the surface processes). I believe that we are called to have a recurring communion with our own inner selves within the context of hearing our own voice but also learning to hear, with patience, those voices which are in opposition to that of our own.

It’s part of our First Amendment right to share what’s on our mind …

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.[3]

When we take time for a few reflective moments, our history as a divided Nation is well documented and the church’s role as enablers is documented too. Especially during those times when the Nation wrestled with slavery as early as the 1820s when new territories were being settled westward. Would these new territories be free soil, thus supporting slavery or spaces that condone slavery? History affirms that the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which was antislavery, was overturned by the Compromise of 1850.[4] The 1850s is shared by historians as decades of a divided nation because of slavery. In 1856 Stephen A. Douglas led and won a legislative argument that contributed to a movement that allowed new territories (Kansas and Nebraska) to decide locally whether they would be free soil or enforce slavery.  Stephen Douglas angered his base. He traveled to Chicago to defend his position. A U.S. History resource chronicles share that a noisy crowd of 10,000 and tolling church bells were among the orchestrated deafening detraction that made it impossible for Douglas to be heard. The tolling church bells served to increase the noise factor during his speech is an indication that he was not welcomed by the church either after taking such a stance for humanity. A stance of brothers and sisters; their families that didn’t look like him but were members of God’s diverse family.

Reading Jesus’ words as shared at Luke 12:49-56 takes us back even further in terms of how those who consider themselves religious or the Church responds to the fundamental conflict between the freedoms of the privileged and those members of societies where justice is frequently denied. Twenty-first century theologians tell us that genuine peace will have division as a byproduct because not everyone wants truth. In the fallen world, divisions are indispensable for truth to be revealed ( 1Corinthians 11:1819).

Are we living in a space in time when we are reaping the fruit of the Church’s labor? Labor that has accentuated our tendency to use God’s gift in ways that diminish our ability to act with justice as moral and accountable beings.[5]


[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=the+grey+area+meaning&oq=the+grey+ar&aqs=chrome.2.69i57j0l5.10585j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

[2] Arn, Jackson. “All the Light We Cannot See Zero (August 7, 1944): Leaflets.” LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 12 Mar 2016. Web. 21 Aug 2019.

[3] https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

[4] http://countrystudies.us/united-states/history-62.htm

[5] Christian Ethics in the Twentieth Century, page 316.

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