Assume the Worst in Others, Bring Out the Worst in Us: Macklemore, Rob Bell & Others We Love to Hate

What is it about this new online reality that makes us assume. As the old phrase goes: “When you assume you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.

Let me just that there’s lots of ass-u-me-ing that happens online. We have heroes. We have villans. On any given day these people become either.

Not only so,but these people divide. “I’m for so-and-so!” “So-and-so is everything that’s wrong with our culture!” “So-and-so saved a puppy from a burning building.” “So-and-so is a bigot.” “So-and-so saved a kitty from a tree.”

Division. We’re really good at that.

Reminds me of this passage in the Scriptures:

What I mean is this: that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” “I belong to Apollos,” “I belong to Cephas,” “I belong to Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1.12 (CEB)

Camping out with the leader or group that fits us is becoming more and more normative.

The web reinforces this sort of assumption cycle. One day we like someone… the next one we assume the worst.

Assuming the worst – mediated by a screen – this is an easy posture to take.

It happens any time Rob Bell’s name is mentioned. I can’t tell you how many times people have assumed all sorts of things about him. He’s a liberal. He’s a universalist. He’s emergent (remember when that was the hot dirty word in conservative churches?). He’s an open theist. He’s cool with gay folks. He hates God’s Word. He hates kitties (*on naming the animals* – “Dog. That’s cool, that’s my name spelled backwards. Cat – I didn’t make those!” [see "Everything is Spiritual"]).

As of late, I’ve sensed an attitude in some folks about Rob Bell‘s motives in hosting a TV talk show. On one side of the suspicious spectrum are those who think that he is partnering with the AntiChrist herself – Oprah. How can he be a true Christian if he is in cahoots with her?

On the other side of the suspicious spectrum are those who question his personal motives. He must be into money – I want to know what he’s doing with all the cash he’s earning? [Is this really our business? Really?]. Bell clearly loves fame. His celeb is going to his head at this point.

How do we know what he thinks? Assuming that we know his motives dangerously sets us up to become a worse version of ourselves.

Similarly, something happened this past weekend with Macklemore (Seattle, baby!). He showed up at a costume party at the EMP at the Seattle Center (where the Needle is located) in disguise.

When he revealed himself on stage, people snapped pics and then attached an accusation: he was anti-semitic.

Macklemore performs in Seattle, Washington. Photo Credit: Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic via http://rol.st/1h4iWEb

Anti-semitic? Really? Why would a person who has devoted his short career to inclusivity, creativity, and justice (ok, and humor) now decide to consciously ruin his rep by mocking the Jewish community? The benefit of the doubt rarely enters the masses in a social media 2.0 culture. Rather, we ass-u-me and throw our former heroes under the bus. Macklemore obviously clarified on his blog:

Family, friends and fans alike who know me well, know that I’m absolutely not the person described in certain headlines today. There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended….

I thought it would be fun to dress up in a disguise and go incognito to the event, so that I could walk around unnoticed and surprise the crowd with a short performance.  I picked up a bunch of fake mustaches and beards and grabbed a left over wig from our recent trip to Japan. As it turns out the fake noses they sell at the costume store are usually big (my nose didn’t fit most of them).  So I ended up with a big witch nose.  I went with a black beard, because that’s the furthest color from my natural hair.  Disguise was the intention.  I personally thought I looked very ambiguous in terms of any “type” of person.  Some people there thought I looked like Ringo, some Abe Lincoln. If anything I thought I looked like Humpty Hump with a bowl cut….

I wasn’t attempting to mimic any culture, nor resemble one.  A “Jewish stereotype” never crossed my mind….

I will let my body of work and the causes for which I’ve supported speak for themselves…. I respect all cultures and all people.  I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are. I love human beings, love originality, and… happen to love a weird outfit from time to time.

I truly apologize to anybody that I may have offended.

Of course, in a culture of assumption people will demonize Macklemore. When he’s brought up as a “good guy,” others will appeal to this accidental isolated incident as “proof” that he’s inauthentic. Friends, this isn’t good.

The venom of assuming doesn’t, in the end, harm those at which it is directed – instead, it poisons our souls.

And I have to be wise about this as well. Unless I know for sure, making assumptions about the character of those with whom I disagree – theologically, for instance – is a temptation that must be subverted. When we assume we start to label “those people.” We “other” them rather than humanize them. Jesus always humanizes!

This isn’t only an issue of celebs, but in our own regular lives. Who in our sphere of relationships have we built up an arsenal of assumptions against?

Whenever we assume we assume the risk of such assumptions consuming us. Easily, we become a person full of bitterness and accusation rather than compassion and humanizing empathy.

This isn’t to say that we ought not hold people accountable. Rather, it’s an invitation to start with a posture of trust, assuming that people are at some level who they say they are. When we start from a humanizing place rather than a dismissive posture, that is one way that we prevent becoming a worse version of ourselves.

So let’s stop assuming and start humanizing. Stop distancing and start embracing. Stop othering and start including. Let’s seek to love rather than jumping to conclusions. Our souls depend on it.

  • Matthew Bade

    I feel so bad for this guy. I’m more than happy to take him at his word when he says he wasn’t trying to be offensive, so I’ll assume it was merely a coincidence that he looks like he just jumped out of a Nazi propaganda poster. Thank you, Kurt, for hopefully opening some eyes (including my own) to the dangers inherent in assumption making.

  • http://www.TCMoore.net/ T. C. Moore

    Kurt, you know I appreciate you a ton, and I’m glad you’re calling attention to some of the more unhelpful online behavior. However, I think the two examples you’re citing are very different. Here’s why: I’ve watched New Calvinists say clearly untrue things about Rob Bell …things that can be shown to be false by opening one of his books and quoting him. We all remember when the New Calvinists “farwelled” him before Love Wins hit the bookshelf.

    In the case of Macklemore, it is not false at all that he dressed up in clothing and a fake nose that were seen by Jewish people as a racial stereotype. That’s just a fact. No one has to “assume” that; we can all see the photos and read the tweets and accounts written by Jewish people. Now, did Macklemore intend to offend Jewish people? No, of course not. He had no clue he was being offensive. But that’s not the same as him not participating in racism. What he did was racist, regardless of his “intent.” (cf. Jay Smooth: http://youtu.be/b0Ti-gkJiXc)

    White people unintentionally do racist things a lot! Famous white people dress up in black face for parties or dressed up like a “gangsta” on college campuses with watermelon drinks. That’s racist. But they would all say “I’m not racist” or “I didn’t intend to offend anyone.”

    That’s not the same as people “assuming” anything.

    White people often don’t “intend” to offend others, or do racist things. That doesn’t mean that they don’t do racist things and offend other people. Macklemore did something racist and offended people. That’s not an assumption. That’s a fact. “Rob Bell is an universalist” is an assumption for all those who haven’t actually read his books, but have only read The Gospel Coalition’s soundbites.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      I understand your point. However, the assumption that I’m calling now is the intent. This is what I think is important. Accidentally being racist is an accident. It is an unfortunate accident one that needs to be repented of. He clearly did that. Nevertheless, we are assuming a lot about his motives if we judge him for this unintentional action. If we’re not careful we start grabbing for fruit from the wrong tree.
      Peace.

      KURT WILLEMS
      http://kurtwillems.com
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

      • http://www.TCMoore.net/ T. C. Moore

        Clearly we don’t want to judge anyone’s motives, which is why I made it clear that his “intent” is irrelevant. No one needs to assume his motive to identify the action he performed as racist—they only need to see the photos. Like Jay Smooth said, what’s important is that racist behavior (words and actions) are not justified by “good intentions.” Systemic racism is a reality, as much as white people want to deny it exists.

        T. C. MOORE
        http://TCMoore.net
        http://Fb.com/tcmoorepage
        http://Twitter.com/tc_moore

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

          Who defines what is racist and what isn’t. Is it simply when people are offended? What about all of the Jewish folks who came out and said they were not offended? What does that add to the equation? I’m asking these questions because I’ve always understood racism as something that is intended. Not only so, I also understand that systems are oppressive. But I don’t think a costume of random artifacts that happened to appear to some as mocking a people group counts as oppression – especially when an apology has been sincerely offered. It was a symptom of a blindspot, for sure… But racist? I guess I’m trying to understand your underlying philosophical assumptions. Not challenging you so much as I’m trying to understand. Should we call Macklemore a “racist” or should we name the mistake as an accident? If he’s a racist, then perhaps we all are? Seems like this won’t help in reconciliation…. but I could be missing something. I respect you and know that racial reconciliation is not only something you care about but it’s part of your own family dynamic. Please help me get ya on this a bit more.
          Peace.

          KURT WILLEMS
          http://kurtwillems.com
          http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
          http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

          • http://www.TCMoore.net/ T. C. Moore

            In this case, what makes the costume Macklemore wore racist is centuries of anti-semetic propaganda. (See the attached example).

            Again, to reiterate, I agree with Jay Smooth that it’s unproductive to talk about a person *Being* a racist or not, rather than talking about particular behavior as racist. In this case, it is racist to dress up in costume that resembles an anti-Semitic stereotype. The most direct parallel is how it is racist to dress up in ‘black face’ because of the history of oppression associated with it. It’s irrelevant whether or not Macklemore’s intentions were good. White people often accidentally participate in expressions of the racist system which still exists. It’s unhelpful to label each one a racist. But its important we don’t excuse the behavior, or it will continue.

            If someone picks our pocket, you don’t chase them down to find out if they feel like a thief deep down in their hearts. You chase them down to get your wallet back. – Jay Smooth

          • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

            Thanks T.C. for helping me understand and grow. also, I was doing this all through email. I never saw the video… that made the point that I should have caught on to more quickly….

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            The thing I think I’d push back on, T.C. is whether, in the Macklemore case (and I know nothing about the guy … literally hadn’t heard his name till I read Kurt’s blog), it takes someone versed in the old anti-Jewish propaganda to even recognize that the costume might have looked like a Jewish caricature. I looked that the image, and certainly Jewish caricature occurred to me in an instant. But if a guy throws together a mishmash of costume bits, looks in the mirror, and *doesn’t* see the caricature, it seems to me calling it a racist act–as opposed to an act others (unpredictably, to him) perceived racism in it–is missing the mark.

            To take your blackface example … blackface as we usually use the term describes not only a darkening of the complexion, but a collection of make-up elements that are specifically designed to caricature facial features of some folks of African descent. It’s pretty nearly impossible to “happen into” blackface innocently. I’ve never heard anyone consider the face-blackening that navy seals and other special forces do, as even implicitly racist. What’s the difference? A completely different functional paradigm that defines the behavior.

            So no, not everything that someone of another race might take as offensive, is necessarily racist. It’s entirely possible that Mack was too young and naive to recognize an image those of us who are older (I speak for myself, not you kids lol) would see instantly.

          • http://www.TCMoore.net/ T. C. Moore

            Hi Dan, (for those observing this exchange, I am friends with Dan outside of this particular interaction, and our disagreement here won’t change that, so please don’t interject to play peacemaker. We are already at peace with one another.)

            I’ve already granted several times that Macklemore likely had no intention of offending anyone and did not intend to participate in a racist stereotype of Jews. Once again, his “intent” is not in question here. Going back to Jay Smooth’s crucial insight: this isn’t about Macklemore’s “heart”; it’s about the behavior which is unacceptable.

            Even if Macklemore was ignorant of every racist stereotype used to dehumanize Jews (which would be very difficult if he’s had more than a grade school education), that ignorance is a symptom of white privilege. The essence of white privilege is “if it doesn’t directly affect me (as a white person), it isn’t important.” Racial stereotypes are important to racial minorities who have been historically oppressed. They should be important to us also.

            Also, again, what makes something racist or not is not determined by “intent,” but by the history of oppression associated with a behavior. Ignorance of that history does not excuse the behavior. That is why we must not fixate on the “intent” of Macklemore, but the behavior that must not be justified so that it will not continue.

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            T.C., first of all, to reinforce, I completely agree that we are at peace. Actually I’m glad you said that, because I think there’s a desperate need for more people modeling disagreement in genuine friendship & love.

            I do disagree with what I think I hear you saying … but let me tell you how it sounds to me ’cause it may not be what you meant. When you bring up the issue of “white privilege” I hear what seems to be a theme among a number of my friends, that unless we white males spend at least some amount of time flagellating ourselves for the failure of having been born white and male, we aren’t properly accounting for the racism and other s%$# that has been perpetrated by others who look nominally like us. I don’t buy that.

            In the Macklemore case, I know only what you guys have said and linked to, so I grant that I’m working on limited data. But what I see is a guy who screwed up innocently, and who the moment it was called out, responded not with self-defensiveness but with a “wow, I had no idea this was what I was conveying, I’m truly sorry.” The example *I* see in this story is of a guy who owns his screw-ups in genuine humility, and I fail to see how beating him up by applying a “racist” label on him accomplishes anything of value. If he has acknowledged that he hurt people, he didn’t intend to hurt people, he’s genuinely remorseful for hurting people, and through this experience he’s learned a way to avoid hurting people again in the same way, what more is there to accomplish? We’re not justifying Macklemore’s behavior, and neither (nearly as I can tell) is he.

            I get the distinct impression (I hope this is not the case from you) that unless the guy wears a “I’m a racist” shirt in public for a year and beats himself up repeatedly over this issue for some unspecified period of time, certain purveyors of “white privilege” will not be satisfied. And that, IMHO, is completely counterproductive.

            Again, I don’t defend anybody for playing into racial stereotypes once called on them. But nobody can see every potential cause of offense ahead of time; leastwise me. I refuse to take up the whip of penance for no other reason than my own skin color and genitalia, and I defend others against the demand that they do so either.

          • http://www.TCMoore.net/ T. C. Moore

            Dan, I’m glad you unpacked a little of what you hear when “white privilege” is brought up, because it shows me that there is a dimension missing to your thinking. I can’t speak for everyone who has used that term in your presence, but when I talk about white privilege I’m talking systemically, not individually. Society operates systemically. Institutions and bureaucracies, laws and media, form the reality in which people live day to day. “White privilege” in North America is the reality that society is set up in such a way as to cater to the cultural norms of Euro-American people. It’s difficult for white people to even notice it, because many (perhaps most) white people have never had to think about it (i.e. fish/water). In fact, not being confronted with that reality is part of what forms white privilege. Minority groups, particular racial minorities, are constantly reminded that they are different, other, not normal—because “normal” means in accord with white cultural norms.

            I’m at least as averse to guilt as you are. So, for me, this has nothing to do with making white people feel guilty. Feeling guilty is not the point of talking about white privilege; the point is righteousness/justice. When a racial minority group of people are oppressed, it isn’t merely a matter of individuals not getting along or individuals hating one another. No, racial oppression is systemic—and it lives on in institutions, media, laws, etc. Standing against racial injustice is a matter of justice/righteousness, not moralism. I take my queues from Jesus, who was not a moralizer, but was a champion of justice/righteousness.

            Once again, I’m going to reiterate that Macklemore’s “intention” is not what’s at issue here. As I’ve clearly stated, I’m not interested in labeling him a racist. I’ve clearly stated that I don’t want to label him a racist. Instead, what needs to happen is, we need to label costumes like the one he wore racist (because of their historical use cf. nazi and aryan, white supremacist propaganda). The *Behavior* is racist because it participates in the systemic dehumanization of Jewish people, and must not be excused by appeals to “innocent intentions”. People make mistakes. I have no problem believing Macklemore dressing up in a racist stereotypical costume was a mistake. That doesn’t change history, nor does it change the fact that this type of behavior must not be tolerated or excused.

            I sincerely hope this comment helps you understand. I’m not trying to argue for arguing’s sake. If you’re not convinced racism is systemic, then we’ll probably just need to agree to disagree. I can also recommend some resources if you’d like to do some independent research.

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            T.C., a couple of thoughts come to me from your post, so I’ll reply in a couple pieces to try to keep the different strains coherent (good luck with that, eh?).

            First, when you describe “systemic” white privilege as “the reality that society is set up in such a way as to cater to the cultural norms of Euro-American people,” it makes me wonder whether you have spent any significant time in cultures/countries other than your own. What you’re describing sounds to me like virtually every country in which I’ve ever spent time … the culture tends to evolve around the predilections of its majority members.

            Such predilections may indeed have a relationship to justice/injustice (and they often do), but I think it’s important to parse out those that are justice issues from those that are just how a particular culture functions. To do so, I think it’s often helpful to appeal to justice metrics that are not racially defined, both because (1) the underlying sin or injustice may in fact have other and more-significant contributing factors, and (2) from a pragmatic standpoint you improve the likelihood of the majority addressing the issue if it can be separated from its racial and cultural baggage.

            Which brings me to the point that we all need to be careful to separate in our minds and in our discourse, things that are racially driven, and things that, while driven from other sources, have a racially-disparate impact. I say this because treating symptoms is rarely effective in curing a disease.

            Now please do not misunderstand me. I do not for one moment deny that there is systemic racism in this country. The overt racism that I have come across since we moved to Atlanta never ceases to repulse me (and man, can it get ugly!), but I also acknowledge without reservation the racism driving many of the political hot buttons of today: I have no doubt that voter ID laws are racially directed, and anti-immigration fervor is clearly racist.

            There are, however, quite a few other issues (and I think school financing/districting is a good example) where, although the results fall out along racial lines, I strongly suspect wealth/poverty is the actual driving force. That there are racial components to poverty in this country I do not deny. That the poverty of minorities in this country is also due in part to a legacy of our racist history, I also do not deny. But if we’re going to address it today, I believe working on the drivers of poverty today has a better chance of achieving sustainable effects than focusing on race which, I believe, contributes primarily from a historical rather than a present context.

            Which is why I react so strongly to a primarily race-based narrative for issues of this sort. Not because race hasn’t been, or doesn’t continue to be a factor, but because I think it’s not the strongest factor *today,* nor the most effective target for intervention *today.*

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            And now to my second focus area … you seem to me to be conflating racism of the sort that manifests itself in anti-semitism, with racism of the sort that oppresses minorities in this country (mostly minorities of brown skin). It seems to me these are very different things. Not because both aren’t disgusting and immoral, but because one has an outgrowth in disempowerment and disadvantage, while the other no longer does.

            Anti-semitism is still wrong and disgusting, but it’s much rarer than it used to be, and does not appear to have much effect on either social interactions or socioeconomic status/wealth. Jews in America today are far more likely to be successful middle and upper class, while folks whose ancestry hails from Africa or Latin America (or much of the global South) are likely to be poor and disenfranchised. In consequence, it seems to me that to paint issues like this current kerfuffle with the same brush as the discrimination racial minorities face is a category error of fairly significant proportions. The only people in America today who would actually refuse to associate with Jews in normal activity, are either the WASP bluebloods who don’t really like to associate with *anybody* but their own kind, and the Aryan types who, while evil on so many fronts, are thankfully pretty much of a fringe. Anti-semitism was “systematic” in our history (not just the Nazis, but the good ol’ allies too), but I don’t get the sense that is true today (by the way, if any Jewish readers care to enlighten me if I’m wrong here, please do).

            Now, does that mean that I think that because most Jews are doing fine in this country, that it gives anybody else license to act like pigs toward them? Hell no. Being a jerk is, and always will be, being a jerk. And being stupid is and always will be stupid. In a case like the Macklemore one, the difference between jerk and stupid comes in how you handle it once called on the behavior. To all accounts, he came down on the side of stupid, which fortunately, is the more curable condition.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    OK, I get it, assumptions and prejudicial judgements are not OK. Still there is a place for discernment and rational dissection, Spirit motivated at its best, but just plain intellectually acute at least. Rob Bell has been on a trajectory away from witness to the Gospel of Jesus as represented in the Scriptures and toward a nebulous new-ageish spirituality that doesn’t exalt our Lord or bring people into relationship with the God of the Bible. This is fairly obvious from his latest offerings regarding what he is saying when he talks about god. This not just because of “guilt by association” with Oprah but because of what he actually says about his conception of god, both on air with her and in print in his book (I’ve just read summaries of it and am not inclined to contribute to his project by buying it based on what he said about it on the Oprah show). This is not about “character” but about content. This is about humanizing truth, about embracing the truth of our received Word of God, and about responding as representatives of the Christ revealed in scripture rather than appealing to the most generic abstract ideals one may distill from an individualistic spiritualism for the sake of appealing to those who don’t or can’t embrace the particulars of biblical truth.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Some might say that your version of truth is unbiblical as well.

      Peace.

      KURT WILLEMS
      http://kurtwillems.com
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

      • Richard Worden Wilson

        That is precisely why reasoned discernment of what it means to be faithful witnesses to the Gospel are necessary; avoiding the particulars of biblical witness just doesn’t cut it. As Jesus said: “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26

        • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

          Rob may be a little silly sometimes, and he validates questions unbelievers often ask by treating those questions with respect and acknowledging the sloppiness of our pat answers, but I’ve seen nothing out of Rob that’s “ashamed of [Jesus] and his words” … in fact quite the contrary.

          • Richard Worden Wilson

            During the at length interview with Oprah about what he means when he talks about God I’m pretty sure he didn’t even mention the name of Jesus, or perhaps I didn’t notice where he mentioned anything Jesus said or did.

          • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

            Isn’t it possible that editors had something to do with that? Either they edited Jesus out or asked him not to say his name. Pretty standard policy on major networks…
            Peace.

            KURT WILLEMS
            http://kurtwillems.com
            http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
            http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

          • Richard Worden Wilson

            If Bell does in fact get people to reflect on Jesus and the cross in relation to their lives I can only shout a big AMEN!

          • Lamont Cranston

            Bell could get me to do so, but then I remember that most christians are like you, not him.

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            Did you see Kurt’s friend’s post on the first two Bell shows? Sounds pretty darn Jesus-y to me … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2014/05/16/rob-bell-show/

  • Kathy K-m

    I sincerely hope you will offer we atheists, the same opened mind and hearts.
    We’re no threat to your faith, and, in fact, agree with many of the same principles…kindness, compassion, justice, mercy.
    But, we’ve seen the harm that can be caused by overly zealous application, of the books written for a long ago time, and that’s not something we can agree with.
    So I love and appreciate your willingness not to make assumptions about people, and hope you’re able to extend that, to those you least expect. :-)
    (The funny thing is, I suspect we’re more alike than you think. We, too, want a peaceful, tolerant, loving world. It’s just our reasoning that’s different)

  • Josiah Benedict

    I’ll be “that guy”… Macklemore has been active for over a decade, his newest album is huge, but it’s not his first.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Who said it was his first album? I certainly didn’t… considering I have two older albums of his as well.

      • Josiah Benedict

        Sweet! I really enjoy his new album, but his old stuff is just as good. My point was that 10 years (almost 15 really) isn’t really a “short career” as you said, that’s all. Leading in with a statement like “Why would a person who has devoted his short career” implies Macklemore is new to the scene, and I was just clarifying that he isn’t.

  • L.W. Dicker

    “Brethren, I know that you have been eagerly awaiting my second coming. For two thousand years.

    Two thousand. Fucking. Years.

    So I feel the need to inform you that I have just witnessed George Clooney frolicking on the beach in a Speedo.

    So my second coming is now well behind me.

    As a matter if fact, numbers three through seventeen are pretty much a done deal.

    So perhaps you should start praying for ‘cumming’ number eighteen.

    I promise to update you as my erections and testicle secretions dictate.

    Holy shit!!! Is that George Michael in a thong!!!!!!!!!!”

    Jesus Christ, as told to Kirk Cameron

  • Darryl Stringer

    Well said, sir.

    This is right inline with what we talked about in church this morning (I’m in Australia, where it’s now lunchtime Sunday … so anywho …). I was leading things and I quoted from Christena Cleveland’s book “Disunity In Christ”:

    “What we need to do is really quite simple: rather than continuing on as cognitive misers who lazily rely on inaccurate categories to perceive others, we need to engage in what my friend Reverend Jim Caldwell calls cognitive generosity. We need to turn off autopilot and take the time to honestly examine our polluted perceptions.”
    - Christena Cleveland

  • Sherilyn Miller

    Hi Kurt! Where to start, I have been perusing your blog some, and don’t know where to start and stop, or comment–it’s amazing!! :) I must admit this post touches a heart ache/longing for me– both in that I long for less assuming and more love in a true Kingdom way in my own heart, and knowing what it feels like to be assumed the very worst, without having a chance to “speak.”

    I have to say too, that I love Rob Bell, and maybe unfairly so. :) But he was extremely instrumental in the healing I have had in my life so far. When I was in counseling for several years, Rosie (my therapist) recommended his Nooma films, which then led me to listening to his pod casts when at Mars Hill. Especially his Sermon on Mount sermons I spent hours listening and relistening to. They became part of a process of deep inner transformation of something that I always thought I believed as an Anabaptist, to real life living out from the heart, where I could actually truly ache for and love my “enemies.” All this at a time when opening my Bible to read it hurt so badly I couldn’t do it. So very weird I know…

    I haven’t read “Love Wins” yet. (I know, I am terribly behind the times, but I have 5 kids you know, :) and an everlastingly huge list of books I am reading or want to read.) I am not saying I agree with everything he believes, I am just not sure that we have the right to assume as much as sometimes we, or especially I, think we do.

    I am so intrigued by your Rapture posts too, have been reading N.T. Wright some, and listening to Greg Boyd on Revelations, and so much could make so much sense, I just want time to think through and study myself. It seems to be so much more in keeping with what I see as God revealed in Jesus, and what I see in reading the Gospels, and listening to even the OT. when I have courage to. We have been reading a lot of ancient history to our kids, and I am starting to wonder if we tend to see God through the lens of an ancient pagan narrative, instead of through Jesus.

    I LOVE that you went to Isreal, I so wish I would have known that at Praxis!! I have a sister in Jerusalem who with her little family have plans to be there indefinitely. After about 6 years of being there they now have a tiny little house church of Catholics, Jews and Muslim Arabs who meets during the week; they attend Jewish synagogue or Arabic services weekends. It is the KINGDOM come!! I wish I could pick your brain on your experience there, and I wish they would know about you and your involvement. It is a bit of a lonely calling for them to reach out to both sides of the conflict there.

    I hope it is okay for me to comment, and if not please, please, let me know… I am the Anabaptist Mennonite woman you met at PRAXIS, and you said you would love to have us come visit you if we make it to Seattle. :) Just letting you know who I am. I felt so cared for by your comment to me after the prayer in the break out session that I still hold it in my heart– I started looking to see if I could find something of your church on the internet, and we WILL definitely be looking you up if we ever end up in Seattle!

    OK wasn’t intending to write a post. :)-
    -Sherilyn

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Wow. Sooooooo glad you commented!!!!! Honored that you are reading my blog and feel soooooooooooo affirmed. Yes, Rob Bell is a great gift to the church. I breaks my heart the way that he’s been “blacklisted” by the established church.
      And, honestly, when you shared in our session it was a holy moment. I mean that. You always will have a friend in Seattle!


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