A Vision For Healing Our Cultural Divide


by Travis Garner,The Village Church, Nolensville 

Perhaps you’ve noticed something lately. Actually, you’ve probably only noticed it if you’ve seen any of the news lately, listened to the radio, logged in to Facebook, read any kind of publication or blog, seen footage from a political debate, been out of your house for more than 5 minutes, or breathed in the past few weeks. So, if you haven’t done any of those things in the past few weeks, no need to keep reading.

For the rest of you, I wonder if you’ve noticed like I have that we live in a pretty divided culture. I asked a friend this week if he thought that was true, and he quickly responded, “We can’t get enough of division. We can’t get enough of categories.” We spend a considerable amount of time in our culture thinking about and writing about and talking about what makes us different. Different ideas, different backgrounds, different ways of talking and living, different religious foundations.

Log on to any neighborhood or community Facebook group and you’ll also see that we have grown to be really highly skilled at labeling our differences. Airing them out, so to speak. We’re very good at finding even the most minute distinctions and exploiting them. It reminds me a bit of when I was in high school, and we lived across the street from identical twins that were a couple years younger than me. I remember one particularly intense “argument” they were having in front of their house that ended with one of them yelling at the other, “You’re ugly!”

The response was maybe even better than the initial attack, “Your MOM’S ugly!” I was in my front yard, and thought about interjecting (“Um, excuse me, you know you two are identical…”) I decided in that instance (for once in my life) that it would be better to keep my mouth shut.

I’ve also noticed recently, and honestly this seems to be on the increase, that there’s a sense of growing fear around difference, a lot of anger around difference, a growing intolerance of difference – people who are different, ideas that are different, cultures that are different. The responses seem to be more and more extreme.

A few years ago, NPR columnist Linton Weeks wrote, “Do Americans disagree about everything? Are we such factious and fractious folks that we just naturally start arguing and choosing sides whenever something comes up? Are we always contentious, never content? Always warring, never loving? Have we reached such a pointed, poisoned, partisan point in our history that any topic, once it rises to the surface of national dialogue, triggers angry standoffs on Facebook and Twitter and everywhere else?”

Read more from Travis Garner’s blog here.

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