Kevin H: Understanding the Other
I confess that I do not know much about award-winning Christian hip hop recording artist, Lecrae.
In actuality, his work and abilities expand well beyond recording and performing rap music.
He’s also an author, speaker, social activist, and owner of an independent record label. Even though I don’t know his music very well, from what I do know he doesn’t seem to fit the usual mold of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music).
Lecrae recently gave a TED Talk that caught my attention. Heroes and villains. Antagonists and protagonists. Rap culture. Drugs, violence, and misogyny. Ronald Reagan. Embracing stigmas. Perpetuating villainous ideas as heroic. Cancer or cure.
The man seems to have a good head on his shoulders as his talk was insightful and cogent. One of the assertions he made was that defining heroes and villains is not always so simple. He spoke of how everyone has a different story and how those stories can be quite different based on perspectives and vantage points.
An example Lecrae gave in this regards was Ronald Reagan. Hero to many, but villain to the culture and community in which he grew up. He spoke of how Reagan’s War on Drugs and the actions of his administration helped to create an environment in his community where many saw their only hope of escaping dire financial straits was in becoming a drug dealer. Now, he did not slam Reagan, but he clearly articulated a situation where people’s stories and viewpoints can vary based on circumstances. He challenged the audience to be willing to listen to people’s stories before writing them off.
Here at the Phoenix Preacher, we have quite the diversity. One would be hard-pressed to find another site on the internet where there is regular participation on theological and Christian issues from so many different people across the theological spectrum. Despite the inevitable rough patches, I think we usually fare pretty well in holding together as a unique community.
At the same time, (and this not a criticism, but simply expressing a reality), we also have quite a bit of homogeneity.
I’m speaking at least of the participants as I can’t speak to those who are readers only.
We are people who like to discuss and debate issues of similar interest. Despite our diversity, we do seem to share a lot of analogous experiences. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that we are predominantly White American Protestant Christians.
Now I point this out not to lay on a guilt trip or to cry out for greater diversity, but to give us a little food for thought for when we encounter someone different, whether here or in other areas of life.
Sometimes we don’t do so well when someone comes on here and expresses an opinion that we deem not up to code.
Now maybe that opinion is truly foolish or malicious or arrogant and whatever response it gets is well deserved. But maybe other times that opinion is coming from a very different perspective from a person who has had quite dissimilar experiences and life circumstances. Maybe sometimes the foolish and arrogant ones are us because we make assumptions and misunderstand.
The divisions in our culture are seemingly worsening by the day. The current political climate is toxic. The disjunctures in the church are many and at times great, sometimes necessary, other times maybe not.
Seemingly, we are so quick to label and dismiss those on the “other side”. We’re sure we know what they’re like and we have no problem prescribing evil motives and intentions. If they’re not with us then they must be against us… and they must be treated as the enemy.
But… what if we took a little more time to listen to and understand the others?
What if we gained an appreciation for their vantage point, for their thought process? We may very well still disagree with them, but just maybe we’d be able to interact in a more amiable and compassionate fashion. And even yet, maybe one of these times we’d find ourselves saying, “You know, I never thought of it like that, you just might be right.”
But, nah….. we know we’re right and we already know all about the other guy. No sense wasting our time with this “understanding” stuff. We’re right and they’re wrong and we’re sure going to keep it that way.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
interesting post as my morning reading was Proverbs 2 … all about wisdom, hearts, souls and understanding
“For God so loved the world…” course He does love us white anglo saxon protestants best lol
if we could just make Christ the main thing, love what He loved, make Him our hero… maybe the rest would fall in place – dunno
When you divide the world into black hats and white hats, you find that gray hats are the only ones that fit…
… okay, if the world is (hypothetically ) divided into black and white… ? … there is no grey… hmmm
I think part of the problem when we see our heroes all in white is that we have no patience for those who see some black. When our heroes are accused, we go on the defensive to protect and sometimes even on the offensive to attack the accusers. And we are deaf to hearing any real criticism or understanding where the criticism is coming from.
And sometimes those heroes are not even people. Sometimes they can be political or theological positions or other life beliefs that we treat as infallible.
Outside of the core truths of Christianity, I think we often get ourselves in trouble with our approach.
Kevin, you nailed it at #4….
I like this ( yes I read the whole post). Although I am a WAPC male I still sometime feel outside the mold because of some beliefs and choices in my life. God still loves me. Not less than the “idealized” Christian, whatever that is, and not more. He just loves me. And I love this site because of the variety of people here, but sometimes I do get bored of the theological debaters that erupt from time to time. But hey, that’s part of the package of who I am.
Debates, not debaters. Silly fat-fingering on the phone.
Dan, I think the debaters erupt sometimes, too. 🙂
When a gray hatter enters into the realm of white and black hats it seems to me that instead of the gray hat being tolerated by both of the others it is forced to turn itself into either white or black in order to at least cut its diversities in half.
This is normal as long as both ‘evilness’ and ‘righteousness’ exist together, but the day is coming when evil will be annihilated.
Then there will not be any white, black or gray hats – just a bright, shiny crown and all eyes will be focused on it.
Kevin, I really like your #4 and your post. If I were writing here I would be writing things like what you are saying. If Michael keeps pre-empting your posts with his own or comments like has happened, I would take that as God’s leading as to what He wants to say to this community. Let me encourage you that I think you are on the right track. We all need to listen and not merely be talking heads bludgeoning others with our obtuse opinions. One thing I like about this community is that more than a single person is now participating in the posts. A blog like this is way too much work for one person.
@11 – just as an fyi…no malice intended…
Michael has had a variety of team members through the years, many of which had admin privileges and wrote good pieces on their own.
We lost almost all of our coworkers over time.
The place can be toxic to your soul when things go sideways…
Thanks, Mr. J.
This is one of the hardest things to do as a follower of Jesus, loving and and understanding “the other”. It’s “the other” that drives us nuts…drives us to lose our temper. “The other” is a threat to our emotional, psychological or physical well being. I think the only way we have a chance is to ground ourselves in the Gospel so we know we are secure in Him no matter what “the other” says or does. Then we need to ask for His Spirit to help us see “the other” as a child of God, a person Jesus loves and died for. Then we might have a chance… maybe.
Good post Kevin.
Many Calvary Chapel pastors don’t care if they understand the other as its all about them.