The Cost of Unity

Now is not a unified moment in the life of the nation, and it shows. The congressional district where my mom lives, and where I’m spending my maternity leave, is still covered with signs leftover from Midterms. It flipped from decades of red (including names like Newt Gingrich and Tom Price) to blue, but by less than a percentage point. In the district next door, the winner still hasn’t been officially called and the two candidates are separated by only around 500 votes.

Now is also not a unified moment in the life of the church. 75% of white evangelicals voted Republican in the Midterms. Meanwhile, almost all of my Christian friends, most of whom would formally fit the definition of an “evangelical” even if they might not like that label, voted D down the ballot.

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On Love and Liking

From our church bulletin today.

(It’s amazing to me how voraciously and omniverously our pastors read, to be able to dig up these random sources that most of us have never heard of, and be able to quote them for whatever topic is being addressed in a particular week)

“The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in control, funny, likable person.

Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life. Suddenly there’s a real choice to be made: Do I love this person? And for the other person: Does this person love me?

There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of. This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie. But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of.”

Jonathan Franzen, paragraphs and emphasis added

And as a corollary to that, albeit we appreciate it for mere snatches on this side of heaven, there is such a thing as every particle of your real self being loved. This is very uncomfortable in our meritocratic culture, but this is the love of Christ.

Also said, and slightly paraphrased from today’s sermon: God bears all of you, God hopes in you [even when you give him every reason not to], God believes the best for you, God endures all of you. God never fails.

Skipping Lecture, Skipping Church

I stopped going to class during the first week of class.

I was surprised at the extent to which this fazed some of my friends and classmates. I’m still kind of surprised, in retrospect, because now over 75% of my class no longer goes to lecture on any sort of regular basis, and the professors have a hard time even enforcing “required” sessions because everyone has realized how much more time-efficient it is to study on your own, especially if using active recall software like Anki or Firecracker.

I gravitated toward other hardcore skippers, and we worked well in parallel and became fast friends. It got to the point where I found myself annoyed whenever I had to go to a lecture or listen to it at “1x,” without the 1.5x, 2x, or 2.5x speed-up option we had for video-captured lectures. Why am I wasting my time, I’d think. This is unbelievably inefficient.

It was only a matter of time before the distaste for lecture-style learning extended to church as well.

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Five Steps from Must to Multiethnicity

Trying to diversify the church can be an overwhelming and abstract goal. Where to start on such a potentially charged topic, and how to move forward? Even after reading pieces like Ms. Holmes’ excellent essay last month (Why Multiculturalism is a Must for the Church, Relevant Magazine), it’s still easy for us to happen into apathy and settle into status quo.
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