“In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things love.”
There seems to be some acrimony in the air these days. I’m not talking about the general incivility in Congress, or the whole red states/blue states divide. I’m talking about the body of Christ, specifically parts of the body of Christ I participate in through an e-mail listserv and online. What seems to be happening is that brothers and sisters in Christ seem incapable of accepting that there might be other brothers and sisters in Christ who see things a little differently. Now this is human nature and it’s always been with us. The church has never been the most united of bodies, no matter what period of history you look at. But I think it’s getting worse.
I’ve been an avid reader of My Writer’s Group – now Your Writer’s Group. I was inspired by Mick’s exhortations to excellence in Christian art. He holds fairly strong opinions on the subject, but he also exhibited a refreshingly humble spirit in a lot of what he wrote. Apparently, not everyone thought so. He pulled his blog for a week or so and came back very apologetic for having offended people. I have no idea who was offended, and I couldn’t really figure what he had written that WAS all that offensive. Pat addressed this very well the other day, so I don’t need to repeat what she said.
On another front, members of a list I belong to (not writing related) have been sniping at one another pretty regularly about attitudes and opinions. It seems that almost any subject now has become a minefield — there’s little desire to even agree to disagree about matters of opinion.
Whatever happened to the concept of civil discourse? “Wherever two or three are gathered together …” there will be disagreement, I know. I’m the classic oldest child: a people pleaser and conciliator. I want everyone to get along and play nice. I’ve learned that doesn’t always happen, but at least people could accept that they don’t see things the same way and move on to something else.
One thing I’ve learned in my 47 years on this earth: we serve a big God. He’s a lot bigger than the differences that divide us. He’s a lot bigger than whether or not we should have a salvation scene in the novel we’re writing, or if our characters can say “hell” and “damn,” or if married people can have sex and enjoy it. God can use a prairie romance, a prairie romance gone horribly wrong, and a prairie romance that isn’t really a romance and isn’t really on the prairie but it sort of invokes those concepts.
But the spirit of discord I’ve become aware of isn’t from God. Here is what Sam Gamgee says to Faramir in the clearing of Ithilien (The Two Towers, “The Window on the West”):
“… But it’s a pity that folk as talk about fighting the Enemy can’t let others do their bit in their own way without interfering. He’d be mighty pleased, if he could see you now. Think he’d got a new friend, he would.”
Here's a verse of a song that seems like a prayer worth praying:
“Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist.
Take this mouth
So quick to criticize
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss.”
(Bono, “Yahweh,” How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)