By Eric Blauer
We live in a time when every moment, of every tragedy, trauma or terror is presented to us in audio, video and digital formats. The horror and hurt of humanity destabilizes us like a never ending series of cultural earthquakes. Then we are barreled over by the tsunami sneaker waves of dialogue and debate that catch us, willing or unwilling, in a tumult of suffocating divisiveness. The undertow of fit, fuss and fume has drowned the hope, faith and friendship of countless pilgrims trying to navigate these chaotic, cultural conversations.
These conditions are revealing the thin truth of people’s commitments to civility, diversity and hospitality in a country that has championed freedom of thought, speech and practice or non-practice of religion.
“In America, we pride ourselves on being a pluralist society. But true pluralism is every rational worldview getting a voice in the marketplace. True pluralism is people living close to others who share different views. But in America, we call each other names, retreat to our own camps where everyone thinks and talks as we do, and that’s not pluralism. That’s tribalism—and you lose the real definition of love when you live in that kind of society,” Jefferson Bethke, Jesus > Religion
The cultural convergence of hate, horror and heritage has me sparring with the hard left and the hard right these days. Below are eight questions I’ve been pondering in my ongoing dialogue and debate.
- Would or Will…leaders of Evangelical churches challenge, reject and resist the hard right political, religious and social rhetoric that fosters contempt and disdain and/or ferments idiological, theological or sociological dehumanization?
- Would or Will…leaders of progressive churches defend, give platform to or support and praise conservative fundamentalists who decry hate and intolerance if one of their own was involved in a massacre like the one at the gay bar in Orlando?
- Can we have an open discussion about the reality of the majority positions of groups like Evangleicalism, Mormonism, Judaism and Islam on the issue of homosexuality?
- Can we address the leap traversed in ideological and theological distance between Evangelicals and Trump in this election and Evangelicals and Romney in the last?
- While discussing and debating banning semi-automatic rifles because of their use in mass killings, why aren’t we discussing banning alcohol because of the scourge of alcohol related deaths, abuse and violence?
- The freedom to debate and protest, write or say what you believe, feel or think is an American value the is foundational to an open and tolerant culture. Killing others who ignore, disagree, disdain or demonize our views is not. How did these two become equal in our cultural conversation?
- Can the Hard Right spend as much time talking and preaching against the sins against the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control Galatians 5:19-23) as they do against the sins of the flesh?
- Can the Hard Left spend as much time talking and preaching against the sins of the flesh (sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties Galatians 5:19-23) as they do about sins against the spirit?
Pluralism is a civil society’s lifeguard on the shores of history and I am of the opinion that right now the sirens and whistles are screaming on the beaches of our interactions. Unless we change or adjust our posture, we are going to drown in a sea of self-inflicted inter-personal and ideological bigotry.
“Examine your heart often to see if it is such toward your neighbor as you would like his to be toward you were you in his place. This is the touchstone of true reason,” Francis de Sales
I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob’s Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on ‘that’ side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.