Race, The Third Way, and Blueberry Pancakes

There are some things that we mix together until all the differences are resolved.  We might swirl together black paint with white until it is mixed just right, to get the shade of grey we are shooting for.  We keep mixing the sugar into the coffee until it is fully absorbed.  The results, in these cases, end up swallowing up the sources: Neither color can be found; once-bitter coffee is transformed.

When I was younger, this was my way of carrying truth.  It is a consistent thing to do.  It leaves you with a way of expressing your views of the world that are coherent.

But if the painter always mixed all her colors and just slathered them on the canvas, visual art wouldn’t be much different than painting a wall.  If a cook mixed everything into a homogenous mess, then we would not have awesome melty chocolate morsels just hanging out in biscuit-y cookies… blueberries would have to be thrown into the blender with the rest of the mix, and we would lose something.

As I grow older, I realize that sometimes the truth does not resolve, it does not average itself out.  Sometimes, it is not helpful to find some sort of compromise between conflicting claims.  Sometimes, I think, the right thing to do, is to carry them both: explore the boundaries between them, ponder the differences, wrestle with ways that we can do better than just find some middle ground but maybe find a way to incorporate the strengths of both positions.

A few weeks ago, my awesome church featured this great message about the third way.  In this context, the third way is this attempt at including people who come down on a different side of the issue.  Today, in place of a message, we had this great follow up to last week.  We are exploring issues around race, discrimination, and privilige.

A few weeks ago, we thought about ways to include people we don’t agree with.  Today, some wise people spoke in an impassioned way about how unreasonable it is to expect somebody who is opressed to patiently and emotionlessly express themselves:  There is a burden on those in positions of power to work things out for themselves.

When I was younger, I would have wanted to jump right to a simple resolution.  That would have been a bit like pureeing blueberries and mixing them fully into pancake batter.  In the end, maybe that will work.  But then again, maybe it is going to be best to just hold both of these things, attentively, carefully.

At least for now, I am going to sit with this apparent conflict.  I wonder if you’ve got some thoughts on working this all out.  There are all kinds of ways this plays out, but maybe one of the main questions is this: How do we balance being open to dialogue with others with not enabling abusers to continue in their destructive ways?




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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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