I read Haidt’s excellent article the other day, when @klax shared it in the Pithy Quotes thread. It was (among many more important things) a good reminder to make more of my Atlantic subscription.
Moore makes many valuable observations, and these stuck out in particular to me:
A small minority of people are able to set the agenda in countless congregations or denominations—as well as within political parties or universities or almost any other institution—by wielding “darts” so ruthlessly that the exhaustion causes the “regular people” to stop discussing certain matters just to keep arguments from breaking out. Sometimes that’s exactly what should happen.
This had never been clear to me in a practical way until the last few years, living in a politically and socially homogeous part of my state. The implications have become huge. The happy illusion (particularly among the leadership) that “this is just how people think” leads to a complete lack of diversity in thought, and no questions. Tension is not welcome; it is seen as bringing unrest into the Church. Tension is resolved, not by taking conflicting views seriously enough to make them part of the discusison, but by placating and soothing. But that only works for a while, when the issues are deep enough and serious enough.
For the kind of unity we need, we must be unified in doing what’s right and pleasing in the sight of God. Sometimes that means a future that looks nothing like the one we planned—seeking unity with people we never thought about.
I am doing exactly this. For my sanity and faith, I had to leave my church. My family came willingly. It would have been easier to stay, really. Disasterous, but easier. Disconnecting from the familiar, where I have been free to pretend everything was settled, is hard. It requires new learning, that for others, was done as kids. It requires starting evaluating things from the beginning again, and always asking, “Is this right? Will this work? Is it at least tolerable? What connections can I have here, and how long will it take to build them?”
We left quietly as instructed by the church covenant, but had to write to the pastors, because I was involved in a ministry. I had to inform the volunteers I worked with and tried to prepare for that meeting and my leaving as professionally as possible. Our reasons for leaving were met with shock and dismay by leadership, although we had addressed one of our concerns formally, but the others only casually. For us, to mention those things at all. But unity in the church drowned out our concerns.
Looking at an unexpected future now, and no real picture of what that will be like. I think we made the right choice, but in doing so, we’ve had to embrace tensions we’d not planned on.