Us in the Absence of a Them

Us in the Absence of a Them May 31, 2024

One of my colleagues at the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction, Rev. Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason, feels a strong call to encourage dialogue among people and factions in our nation that are conflicted and polarized. Dr. Mason published this piece “Us in the Absence of a Them” recently for the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs of Georgetown University.

In this article she shares some of her experience from a recent conference they held entitled The Church’s Mission in a Polarizing World: Finding Spaces for Surmounting Our Divisions.

This is an important topic for those of us who want both a role for the church in the public square and a lowering of the temperature between groups that are fighting. Here’s a quote from her article:

We need interrupt our own echo chambers before we can interrupt others’. In the Gospels, Jesus instructs followers, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” Mercifully, spiritual disciplines and liturgical elements in various Christian traditions can help us gain greater clarity about the roles we play in othering our opponents.

For more on this, please read “Us in the Absence of a Them” by Kelly Murphy Mason.


The Rev. Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason is a spiritual director, educator, psychotherapist, and writer who serves as community minister for spiritual direction at Arlington Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts. She also teaches in the apprenticeship program at the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction and works as a book reviewer for Presence, the quarterly journal of Spiritual Directors International. In 2022, she convened the Spirituality & Flourishing Interest Group within the Harvard Flourishing Network and today acts as its co-chair. For more than a decade now, she has blogged at TheReverendDr.com on the topic of what heals us in our souls.
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