15 November 2006

quick soap box: unity and diversity

As normally happens when I'm supposed to be writing a lengthy paper on some scholarly topic, my mind is wandering. So, I'll share my thoughts quickly:

Today I moderated a reflection group for some undergrad students who have been working on a spiritual covenant/service project together. The topics mentioned included the dynamics of diverse teams working with one another to serve Christ and others. Tonight at the Simpson-Clancy-Taylor abode, our rambling conversation stumbled again onto topics of diversity. Essentially, wonderful John the Noble noted that people always tend to gravitate to others who are just like them. When asked about who the best sorts of people are, folks tend to footnote people who look an awful lot like themselves.

And this, I think, is bad news for the church. That is, it's bad news if we fit the trend described by John. In fact, if our churches look like homogenous conglomerations of people (let's face it - too often they do!), I think we've probably missed the point of that whole Good News of Jesus Christ thing. We are not a body united by political affiliation, social class, mother tongue, marital status, educational level, skin color, or any other arbitrary boundary that human beings erect to distinguish the in-crowd from the outsiders. We are united by one thing: the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. This makes radical communion with the other (the other who is different, perhaps, in nearly every other respect) possible in a way that every other human endeavor fails to accomplish. Democracy won't do it for us - we're currently striving to keep people out rather than welcome them in. Open-mindedness doesn't cut it - sometimes it becomes an excuse to exclude those who just aren't as philosophically flexible. Education, frankly, can be more of a deterent to acceptance and equality than we usually like to admit.

What we have in the catholic Christian faith is unique - an open door for unity of all peoples on the basis of faith in Christ. I know - there are complicated reasons for the ages-old fracture in Christian communion. We've all contributed to the problem, even those of us who seek to keep tests of fellowship minimal. I know - it's probably unfair for me to complain about how Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. It's complicated, I know. But I also know that it's not in sync with the Gospel. Let's live the message we proclaim. Just a thought.

Now, back to my Restoration History paper...

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