… Society informs us that race, politics, and religion do not have a place at the dinner table. Even casual mentions seem to make people’s hair stand on end. This is privilege disguised as politeness; apathy cloaked in hospitality.
Here’s The Story
It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost a decade since I left the Bible Belt. In the last 10 years I’ve gotten married, bought a house, adopted a dog and a cat, lost a cat, had two kids, worried we might lose one of them, graduated from seminary, and planted a church.
There have been huge victories and even bigger failures. Friends have been made and lost...and overall I’m not sure Devin at 20 would recognize Devin at 30. I think he would be amazed at the patience, kindness, and the taming of a temper (although our recent trip to Disney and Seaworld revealed this area still needs a lot of work). It’s hard to go through your 20s and come out on the other side of a decade as the same person, and we all have forks in the road along the way that will determine the person we will become and the life we will lead. There have been a few things that happened leading up to the decade, and during it, that have further revealed Christ to me and in me, as well as some barriers that continue to obstruct the mission of Christ in our world.
Background: Waking Up From The American Dream
I grew up in the idyllic world of Northwest Arkansas. At the time that I moved there Bentonville had around 20,000 people. It was impossible to go anywhere or do anything without it getting back to your parents. For the most part everyone had good jobs and plenty of opportunity (a fringe benefit of growing up in the hometown of the world’s largest retailer). Eventually, I moved away to college that I began to see a world full of injustices. It was then that I realized how my own upbringing was able to shield me from the systemic injustices that I both directly and indirectly benefited from.
I attended college in Central and Southern Arkansas where racism didn’t feel any obligation to hide, and the structural and systemic racial inequality and inequity was on full display. I wasn’t able to see it growing up because the level of diversity was practically nonexistent. Yet, it wasn’t long before I was able to see that Sunday sermons either were an opportunity for Monday through Saturdays sins, or an excuse for them. The racial and economic divide was so stark that you would have to actively seek to ignore it simply to not have to address it. I guess when you’ve had a hundred years of practice, it gets easier.