Cultures clashing

Photo: Ian Sane, Flickr via Creative Commons

Photo: Ian Sane, Flickr via Creative Commons

I’m saddened and frustrated by the constant references to culture wars these days. To gender wars. To all the battles being waged by Christians against one another and all the other people “out there.” I hate the constant political bickering. Making the “other” – men, women, liberals, conservatives, Muslims, Christians, atheists – out to be less than human, an enemy to be vanquished.

I believe that sexual violence against women, rape culture, purity myths, and the sex trade are damaging to both men and women. They are destructive to us as a species, as human beings, and as a society. I believe that equality, mutual admiration, respect, and an eye toward the humanity in each other will lead us to find the unique and powerful and divine and beautiful in others.

I believe that political progress can only and ever be found through dialogue, compromise, and collaboration. I don’t believe violence, aggression, warring, and dehumanizing will ever create better laws or a better world.

I believe that there will always be economic imbalance, that the rich and the poor will always coexist. And I think that can be a beautiful thing, when generosity and serving and barter are valued and a person’s worth is about more than a bank account or financial wisdom.

I’ve been in a lot of conversations lately about the culture of the kingdom of God. Because I love good stories and have always been in love with fantasy worlds, this idea of a culture of the kingdom of God makes my imagination spin with possibility. Just like it took seeing Theodin beloved by the people of Rohan even as he was being eaten up by a curse to help me understand the idea of trusting God even when His ways seem utterly baffling, picturing a world living out the values of Jesus wraps color and texture around the principles of justice, equality, mercy, service, redemption, restoration. I picture rolling green hills, mountains and waterfalls, clean skies, villages full of banners and tapestries and minstrels, people gathering for meals who are responsible for catching and growing the food at the table. Okay, maybe I mostly picture Middle Earth. But…

It seems to be a world in which people make eye contact, looking for connection to one another. They don’t rush past one another, use each other, accuse or abuse. They exercise their compassion and empathy. They are more aware of the sameness we share than the differences that can divide, and in fact celebrate those differences that reveal new aspects of what it means to be human.

It’s a world where people create beautiful things from the broken remnants. Planting gardens on urban rooftops in discarded old television sets. Welding guns into gardening tools. Sharing paint and charcoal and guitar strings and poetry with one another until our world is overflowing with images of divine beauty.

It’s a world in which each person takes only what they need, reusing or repurposing those things no longer fit for their original purpose. No one hoards and no one starves. There are no landfills or toxic waste sites. We ride bikes or walk or carpool so we don’t pump deadly things into our air, and we keep from dumping poison into our water.

The culture of the kingdom seems to be one of creation, cooperation, humanization, and love. I’ve watched a documentary called I Am many times, and this totally worldly film paints a picture of love that has teeth and grit and power. I want to live in that world. I want to help create that world. Jesus says he came to make all things new, and then he leaves that work to those who follow him. Here’s to a day when we are known as peacemakers. Creators of beautiful things. Advocates for justice and mercy. Humanizers. Here’s to a day when we are known by our love.

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2 Comments

  1. Eric M. said,

    June 12, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Your idea of the kingdom of God sounds a lot like a Bohemian Midgard, and I’m okay with that!

    • MandyK said,

      June 12, 2014 at 10:30 am

      I’m glad we are on the same page with this 🙂


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