Welcome to the Rest of the World You Freaking Idiot

I remember years ago, I took a team to England to work with teenagers in low income neighborhoods.  It was a great trip but parts were uncomfortable because of the people who had never been out of the U.S. before.  We tried to prep them for some of the cultural differences but it doesn’t mean anything until you get there.  One of the students, we’ll call him Bozo, was particularly naïve on that trip.

Wow, they have cash registers.  Look at the swipe machine for the subway.  They have heaters in their homes.  Their garage looks just like mine:  a hose, garden tools, hardware.  That’s so cool.  No, Bozo, they use sharp stones, bones, and branches as tools.  Welcome to the rest of the world you freaking idiot.

That bit of ethnocentrism came to my mind as I prayed this morning and pondered some experiences over the past month.  One of them was an effort to work with an entirely Caucasian congregation that exists in the middle of a predominately African-American neighborhood.  Working with a third church, we explored the possibility of “joining forces” to serve the community.  Maybe I’m the one who’s naive because I was shocked at the illiberal undertones and the patronizing attitudes that were displayed by the Caucasian church.  Needless to say, we’re going to pass because the need is too great to pause and help educate fellow Christians on Kingdom Culture.

Next up was a 2 day webinar with hosts of well known Christian pastors and ministry directors.  It was sponsored by a network that services the Christian Community in the area of leadership.  We are working with them for 2 years in the area of multiculturalism and diversity in the American Church, or the lack thereof.  It surprised me that there were long chunks of time that passed with all Caucasian males.  It was a very slim showing of African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, women, etc.  I Tweeted many times with my concern only to be met with facetious and annoyed responses from…Caucasian men.  Now granted, I was a little facetious myself but I was trying to make a point.  Now, kudos to this group.  It was well done, well planned, and well executed.  There were copious and valuable tools and information offered at no cost to church leaders.  But we’re going to have something to talk about when I go for the next session in December.

But then again, it does take courage to venture out into the unknown and unfamiliar.  We need to be open minded and ready to embrace change.  It isn’t easy.  As I’ve ventured out of my evangelical cocoon through they years at the U of I, I’ve noticed many things about the wide diversity of groups we have on campus whether they’re Chinese, Muslims, atheists, environmentalists, LGBT, Calvinists, vegans, Libertarians, philatelists, or those nerdy life forms north of Green Street:  among them are people who…

…like to eat pizza…
…like pasta…
…drink coffee and love white chocolate…
…ride bikes…
…wear Polo and Sperrys…
…drive Japanese cars…
…love Illini football basketball…
…like U2…
…watch 24 and Seinfeld…
…read…
…write…
…have purpose and focus…
…have a cause and dream about the future…
…laugh…
…cry…
…hurt…
…bleed…
…breathe…
…drink water…
…oh, they’re people.

Wow, Terry, welcome to the rest of the world you freaking idiot!

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