It’s hard to describe how I feel watching tweets of Minneapolis burning. Is it unreasonable for multiple police officers to be able to restrain a man with minimal bodily injury? Is it unreasonable for a community to express it’s frustrating and grief without burning down the commercial properties that serve them over the long term?
In most cases I’ve seen, even though we might disagree on how to respond to the reality of the persistent stuckness of racism or an underclass most people would like to see improvement on both scores. Let’s have the vigorous debates over the mechanics of using whatever resources we have to build a better society while at the same time sharing the common goals that both parties I assume at least to some degree share.
We had a council meeting last night (we’ve had weekly online meetings since COVID) to begin to work towards re-opening. One of my elders who is a black man shared how frustrated he is that we can’t see progress in this space, that we can’t come together. It might be that the sample is skewed because in a neighborhood like mine any black family that wants to commit to a church with a white pastor will have certain views about things but my black leadership never sounds anything like so many voices on the polarized right and left today in talking about race or what’s been happening in Minnesota.
Earlier this week I did a question and answer session on a discord server dedicated to the work of John Vervaeke. John is a cognitive scientist at the University of Toronto with him I’ve had a number of conversations over the last couple of years. He grew up Christian but rejected it for various reasons and has spent his life studying and practicing science, various Eastern religions, etc. He’s done his work on “the meaning crisis” which puts him in some ways parallel with Jordan Peterson’s work but he has been much more disciplined about staying out of culture war and political issues.
While we obviously disagree over some pretty basic things, he’s a non-theist (not an atheist, academics have their careful classifications) and I’m a theist we’ve tried to model working towards goods we can agree on while being honest and productive about disagreements. At the end of the Q/A I was asked about why I think the culture of the Discord server that has followed my work has managed to maintain both rigorous conversation usually around religious and philosophical topics while also being a welcoming place for diverse people. I had to give credit to my father for modeling this for so many years. I think a lot of started a generation before him where my grandmother watched her sister get shunned in the Protestant Reformed splinter group.
I watched 30 years of tribal warfare in the CRC over whether or not women should serve in office and I’m afraid of seeing a future battle over same sex marriage that might destroy the CRC as we’ve known it. We may not be torching churches but we allow some of that spirit to persist.
Anyway, here’s the Q/A recording time-stamped to that last question.
May each of us wherever we are find ways to love our neighbors, up to and including our human rivals and adversaries because we battle not against flesh and blood. pvk