As I was waking this morning I read an article which challenged the notion of the Democrats failure in reaching the white Christians. The author pointed to the particularity of fundamentalist thinking and posited that no amount of rational information could likely break the silo effect. (link to article) Having been in this world, I know this is true.
Perhaps this is why I feel as though I am tilting at windmills as I plea for white folks to wake up already. White supremacy, like fundamentalism, is an irrational system of beliefs that creates a silo effect. Much as in religious fundamentalism, voices from the outside are automatically suspect. Voices from within the circle are given authority not on veracity but rather position. Where the two intersect, across the heartland that swept in this new regime (states which, not coincidentally, mostly refused Medicaid Expansion), the walls are virtually impenetrable.
And yet. And yet the author made their break, and I made mine. And so have countless others.
As I think about my own journey out of fundamentalism, and eventually away from even the church, there is not a single voice that broke the reverie. There is no one moment or compelling argument. There is, as water on a stone, a gradual wearing away and a dawning awareness. Slow and almost imperceptible.
My journey from fundamentalism was in the late 80s, concurrent with the rise of the Moral Majority. I wanted to believe and belong, I also cherished intellectual inquiry. I’ll always count my years at Calvin College to be a gift in that there I met wise professors and dear friends who taught me that faith and intellect can (and ought) coexist. But these voices were neither first nor last nor even loudest. They were lifelines when I was reaching.
As I consider my responsibility from this side of the culture wars, the one without benefit of clergy or doctrine, I remember the infinity of apparently insignificant encounters that brought me to this journey of awakening. Remembering, I am mindful that the task of offering lifelines is repetitive and monotonous and thankless and seemingly insignificant. Until the cocoon breaks and the butterfly is free. And rarely are we present to witness.
My cousins (literal and figurative) are in the intersections of white supremacy and fundamentalism. The stakes are high as our nation state devolves and I feel urgency that fuels anxiety. And all I can do … turns out to be the most important thing. Offer one loving and rational conversation at a time. Is it enough? Of course not. But my conversation will join yours and countless others. For those siloed, this cumulative effect is perhaps the only way.
Equally important to note is how these conversations affect our spirits. No longer tilting at windmills, slowed down and breathing rational air, we rediscover the ground of our being and strength for another day. We become the change that we wish to see in the world. Which is not a bad bonus to discover on this trip around the sun.