A letter to my American friends

Hi friends,

I’m writing from a bookshop in Oxford, UK. Looking out of my window I can see the Sheldonian Theatre and the Divinity School of the University of Oxford (inspiration for the infirmary in The Harry Potter movies).

News from the US has been (thankfully) slow in getting to me and initially has (alas) come through Facebook. It’s often a wonderful thing to be somewhat removed from the news so that what is received by others as jarring and urgent is somehow blunted by the passage of time. In today’s world, a day or two seems as significant as a month or two years ago.

Would you allow me to make some observations about our collective discourse around issues such as race and sexuality?

A word of caveat, some will note that my observations come on the basis of Facebook exchanges and media coverage. While this may be seen as a weakness or limitation of this post, I think it’s true to say that our first person interactions rarely go much deeper than our social media interactions.

All sides to the common conversation around these topics (largely) have these things in common:

  • We’re fragmented.
  • Society is diverse in terms both of belief and of practice.

  • We hang out with people like us.
  • In this diversity, we choose others who are like us.

  • Our convictions are often unwarranted.
  • The appeal to “justice” is meaningless apart from some notion of what justice is and from where it is derived. Likewise, appeals to natural law or revelation or tradition are often insufficiently supported.

  • We demonize those who aren’t like us.
  • Both sides do this. Are those who disagree with gay marriage really homophobes? Are those who support it really sexual libertines? This is way too convenient.

  • We tend to find it difficult to love those who are different.
  • In the end, Jesus asks us to love those with whom we disagree quite fundamentally. Are we really willing to do this?

    This moment offers a unique opportunity for Christian people to lovingly, cogently, and consistently both argue and demonstrate the coherence of their views. At least for that reason, if none else, it is an exciting time.

    See many of you soon,

    Jeff

    1 Comments on “A letter to my American friends”

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