One of the reasons that I am proud of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is that our tradition is publicly engaged in God’s work in the world. The work of restoring and reconciling means that we pursue justice and seek peace. We follow God’s example of love and forgiveness as we live and serve our community and the world with all its complexities, tensions, and ambiguities.
Being a Christian has never been a static or easy thing. These days it is particularly challenging as we attempt to live faithfully in a contentious political landscape. The question often arises; how do we talk about our political differences? Our legislative representatives have difficulty regarding our national and state concerns. Even our president finds it tough to address important issues with other world leaders. It makes sense that we find it hard. Yet, I think if we ignore dicey conversations, then we run the risk of abdicating our pursuit of justice and peace, love and forgiveness.
Is the absence of conversation due to an unwillingness to hear one another or an inability to articulate why we think the way we do? As many of you know, I struggle with this in my relationship with my daughter. We have different political and social concerns, we are both people of faith, we love each other and value our relationship. We converse among ourselves with respect and when we reach a point, we stop; think more, and take it up at another time.
In the midst of this I have found myself reading books to help me gain insight; books that are uncomfortable to read. For example, this spring I read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but I have gained some understanding. I am currently reading a book called White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. The author helps me to see the deeply embedded backstory of American views on race, class, and sexism. It is painful, but it helps me see how difficult it is to have conversation with all the many tangled layers that exist.
As I seek ways to converse about these things-I wonder if you do to? The NC Council of Churches will be sponsoring opportunities to see “political” issues through the lens of faith and wrestle with how we address the needs of “the least of these” in meaningful ways. If you would like to join me I am going to the workshop on Tuesday, September 19 in Fayetteville. I would welcome your presence at this event. It is free, but you do have to register. Let me know if you are interested.