Thursday, September 18, 2014

Friday Fruit (09/19/14)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the shoulders on which I stand...


Weekly Round Up:


These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Making New Friends

Photo credit:
2100 productions
The following article originally appeared on IVCF's blog,as part of their series 'Essential Advice for College Freshmen.' Though higher ed isn't the path for everyone, the general principles below can apply to many aspects of life. 


Making friends in a large new community can be a daunting task for incoming college freshmen. In almost no other setting are so many complete strangers thrown together all at once and asked to cohabitate peacefully. I was intimidated during my first semester on campus, but it turned out to be an amazing opportunity.

College offers the unique chance to interact with people from a huge range of backgrounds and cultures, since hundreds of different cultures live, work, and play together within the small space of a college campus.

In fact, there are probably students from several different economic backgrounds, nationalities, races, and political views within walking distance of your bedroom now!


Oh, the Ways You Will Grow!
I came from a largely homogenous high school, and like many of us, I grew up with people pretty much just like me. Unfortunately, many of us will also spend the rest of our lives that way as well (see Eric Fischer’s depiction in maps of present-day racial segregation). But for a few splendid years of college life, interacting with a wide range of cultures is designed to be a part of everyday life. The experiences we gain from this opportunity are invaluable, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Chicago
So much of the learning we do in college happens outside the classroom. When we are in a diverse setting, interacting with people different from us, we gain new perspectives that help us grow, modify, and strengthen our own ideas. Some of my fondest college memories are of sitting around the dining hall tables for hours talking to the people that would eventually become my closest friends. Those folks helped me see the world with new eyes and grow into who God was calling me to be.

In such a setting, we learn how to navigate life together, despite different values and priorities. We learn more about our history and culture, in a way we cannot achieve in isolation from one another. We learn who we are, not just who we were taught or assumed to be.
We also gain a picture of the richness of God’s creation. We fill our lives with beauty, and we wonder at God’s grand vision for his people. Diverse community on earth is a sneak peek at heaven and all the multitudes of cultures that will be there praising the Lord (Revelation 7:9).

Furthermore, it is in diverse community that we gain a fuller picture of who God is. Your parents, friends, and teachers, for example, each know only a segment of your identity, but the summation of their perspectives might better approximate who you really are. In the same way, we are restricted in our understanding of God’s identity when we limit ourselves to our own background.

Each culture has its own way of interacting and identifying with Jesus. Some may emphasize his teaching, others may highlight his compassion, and still others may focus on his suffering. The many aspects of his character are revealed when our different perspectives come together; we’re reminded how multifaceted he is and thus are able to connect more deeply with him together. 


The Importance of Intentionality
But even on a college campus, these opportunities require intentionality. It is still far too easy to interact with the same crowd, and to stay within our comfort zone. Building real relationships requires initiative, and yes, some courage.

Joining campus organizations is a great way to begin to meet new people and to learn about different cultures in a meaningful way. You can also enroll in courses that teach history from a new perspective. Attend concerts and performances that will widen your perception of art. Learn to cook recipes from different countries, or learn worship songs in new languages.

These types of experiences transformed my college experience, and enriched my life. Seeking out these opportunities will open doors to relationships not just during college but also later, as the friendships you form in these years may last a lifetime. What you learn in the context of diverse community will also provide you with the tools to continue living in the fullness of God’s culture-creation, intentionally pursuing God’s heaven lived out on earth well after your college years are finished.

Forming lasting relationships with friends from diverse backgrounds is just a starting point. It's a place from which to build and to take action as we learn to follow the lead of others for the sake of racial justice and reconciliation. Will you take the first step?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Fruit (09/12/14)

Balbir Singh Sodhi
On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the shoulders on which I stand...


Weekly Round Up:


These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ferguson Reflections: Better Together?

Reflections from
Chris Sunami
BTSF is continuing to offer space for ongoing reflection and processing following the events of Ferguson, lest we be quick to forget or 'just move on.' Here, philosopher and the author Chris Sunami shares his reflections: 

It has become increasingly clear that no number of dead black teenagers is high enough to distress some people. The truth is, incidents such as the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown are only disturbing to those people already predisposed to view black people as fellow human beings, which, as it turns out, is a smaller sized group than one might hope.

By this point, the greatest portion of those who are likely to be horrified, outraged or goaded into action by such tragedies have already been mobilized. The tougher, but more crucial task is to find a way to reach those on the other side.

It may be hard to remember, but the people who lack empathy for these youthful victims are neither evil nor sick. They simply possess an abundance of the natural human tendency to compartmentalize. We all find ourselves most naturally in sympathy with those in whose shoes we can most easily imagine ourselves standing. For many people, skin color provides an obvious, and highly visible line where empathy can safely stop. If I see a black teenager gunned down, and I am neither black nor a teenager, I can rest secure in the conviction that his fate has nothing to do with my own.

Compartmentalization 
The majority of the protests, both peaceful and otherwise, have done nothing to change this. Why should we be surprised? It is human nature to act in our own best interests, as we see them. There are some powerful advantages to racial prejudice, and any effective attempt to counter racism must offer some benefit to those whose hearts it seeks to change.

The classic advantage, offered by the Civil Rights Movement to the segregationists in exchange for repudiating racism, was “you can stop being monsters.” Segregation was morally corrosive to those who practiced it, and the Civil Rights Movement exposed the fashion in which segregationists were harming their own selves, morally.

As powerful and decisive as this tactic proved a half century ago, it is of limited effectiveness today. There were both saints and martyrs in that generation, and we, in the main, are neither. Before segregation could be repealed, its defenders had first to be publicly exposed as willing to murder not only peaceful black protesters, but also children sitting in church, and perhaps most influentially, people who were not merely young, but also white.

Short of today's crises reaching similar extremes, this leaves us two other tactical approaches to pursue:
“Better Together” and “First They Came.” “Better Together” is as straightforward as it sounds. The argument can and must be made that America is a stronger, happier, better place because of its diversity, and that living in a diverse environment with equal rights for all is better not just for blacks and other ethnic minorities, but also for whites as well. In order to be effective, however, we must not merely argue this but also believe it as well.

“First They Came” is named after Pastor Niemöller’s famous lament about tardy resistance to the Nazis:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” 
The idea is that people who discriminate, police forces that overreach their charter, and communities that pass unfair laws won’t stop at the color line forever. Today it’s black teenagers losing their lives —tomorrow it might be you. The ultimate destiny of any group centered around exclusion and inequality is to cast out more and more subgroups for smaller and smaller deviations from a fictional norm.

Unfortunately, both “Better Together” and “First They Came,” as tactics, are undercut by a current climate of rhetoric from within the community of protest that is both separatist and racial. When we choose to separate ourselves, we not only declare our own disbelief in “Better Together,” we also make ourselves that much easier a target to attack, exclude or eliminate. we make it that much easier for the indifferent mainstream to dismiss these crimes and tragedies as things happening in the lives of we people of color, rather than in the lives of we, the people of the United States of America.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Fruit (09/05/14)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the shoulders on which I stand...


Weekly Round Up:



These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.
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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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