How can we be one again once this is all over?

Thanks for that, I accept it as true and know the internet is a hard place to communicate well with people, especially with strangers.

I tried to warn you I was exhausted and sad and processing 20 years of dysfunctional church relationships, so I fully acknowledge I may well be hearing things you haven’t said… :slight_smile:

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For me, it’s tough trying to have unity with people at my church who call me things like a pompous arrogant academic #%!$ when I propose that we should defer to experts who are actively debating scientific topics and that he may be misinformed after watching a single youtube video. I am concerned for their overall well being given their comorbidities and age, but it is interesting how someone at the peak of the Dunning Kruger curve thinks I’m the arrogant one as I defer to people who have more expertise in things like vaccine safety and efficacy, epidemiology, virology, immunology, etc.

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I also have problems with those who repeat things as truth, when they have been shown to be false multiple times. Admittedly, some repeat things feeling in their heart it is true and can be excused, but oftentimes, people just refuse to change the talking points used to support their narrative, knowing they are not true. Makes reconciliation tough.

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So, when all is said and done, it seems that the way to achieving unity after this, is to divide and avoid those that hold positions that are in unresolvable conflict. Perhaps in avoidance in those areas, we can be united in other areas of life. That is difficult, as I know some who can’t help but throw out one line comments that are inflammatory, and I am one of those who do so on occasion. Just this morning, someone asked me about vaccines, and I said something to the effect that while the government should not force anyone to take the vaccine, anyone who does not take it anyway is a fool. Maybe not the best wording.

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Yes. I have been flummoxed by the same reaction. They yelled at me and called me condescending to say such a thing. I’m not sure why. I thought it was humble to admit I don’t have all the answers

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Christy, thank you for this article, and to everyone else who has replied to it. I find this discussion helpful, and although many of us find ourselves in similarly distressing situations, I am reassured that this isn’t all in my imagination. For many years, I’ve felt like the church culture I grew up in and am in now has become more rigid in views I never felt really comfortable with (political views, hermeneutics, “issues” of all kinds, matters of what is true and the like) and has named these views “Biblical” or “Christian.”

I’ve stayed (along with my family) because I hear the Gospel preached well, and our pastors are gracious, but honestly, I find much of the congregation less so. It’s painful to sit in a Sunday school class and her other members say things like, “I don’t know how a real christian can believe [whatever the view I hold is].” There seems to be no safe topic, even Scripture or theology these days.

While I find the categories in the article limiting, they are useful for trying to understand what we are experiencing. And the “rubber band” analogy was particularly effective.

I believe that leaving one’s church is a big deal for all the reasons listed in the article. But now, living in an area that believes that the Pandemic is over, and attending a church whose congregation takes no precautions for the sake of others, I find myself crying through every service. This isn’t just a matter of opinion, or being influenced by a different propaganda stream. I am living in a different reality (along with my family). I don’t know how to try to stay any more.

But where to go…

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Thanks for sharing this, sister!

I am also a 3. And I can tell you, it is HARD to navigate this cultural moment. If I’m going to be transparent…I have shed many tears over this. I feel pretty lonely, and like I don’t really fit many places comfortably. I am blessed to have a church family that appears to me to be pretty open-minded and accepting of a wide range of beliefs and isn’t particularly invested in the culture wars. Our church is much more concerned with the Gospel, both in terms of its theological and social aspects, and making disciples. But still, I am in a lot of pain and I feel very weary and alone.

In the context of this thread, I long to be unified and reconciled with other Christians. But too many of them are a “no compromise” type. I could probably fill a book with all my experiences, and the experiences my wife has had as well, with other Christians.

I am reminded of the Duran Duran song “Ordinary World”. Where is the life that I recognize? Where is my friend when I need you most? Gone away…

Having trouble with the “but I don’t cry for yesterday” part…

-Joshua W.

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I should add–I think that it does sort of make sense. In a democracy, we all want to have a say. In addition, knowledge, in many respects, is power. Asimov’s quote,

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Illustrates it in a way. It’s really hard to stop at some point and admit we don’t know as much as some folks–it is bruising to my ego. I would rather explain to my benighted friends, from my wisdom, why Drs Fauci and Collins make their decisions from every vantage point. However, that would be presumptuous. I don’t understand everything. I certainly know better than my friends do, who to trust; but I have to keep my humility, and say, “this is what I understand; I am happy to learn from you, too, in regards to your concerns.”

It’s sort of humbling–the sin of Moses in Numbers 20, in which he was so angry at the (nearly) conspiracy-minded Israelites that he disobeyed God in speaking to the rock to bring forth, water, instead saying, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” In doing that, he put himself up pretty close to God, and ascribed the miracle to himself. At the same time, while God kept his promise to provide water, he forbade Moses to enter the Promised Land because of his arrogance. I am concerned I could act like a Moses.

We attend an “A” church, and lean about “3.” However, it’s very much like our family–they love us; we would (and do) trust them with our children, and they trust us with theirs. It’s not a creed we joined, but a family who stumble all the time. I have to remember that as a teen, I was (completely with good will) not only YEC, but thought pretty much the same way they did. It was only when someone pointed out to me that I was not being loving by being cynical and a little xenophobic, that I realized my error. That kindly wound opened my mind up to criticism of myself. Even if we don’t change their minds, it is worth it to us to stay, as we would with our narrow minded, but loving, family. Thanks. Great article

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I am trying to get used to the idea that maybe a handful of people with whom I can be my authentic, unfiltered self is good enough. It’s probably better than some people ever get. But the near constant feeling of accommodating other people, other cultures or subcultures, of making allowances for other people’s ignorance or prejudice or pain, of needing to keep my mouth shut, of feeling like I am always the one expected to go much further than halfway to meet people, of being misunderstood and unfairly judged–it’s all just so draining. On the fringes, I feel a great sense of nostalgia for a time when I really felt like I belonged and I was at the center, when I had a “we” I was proud of and wanted to invite others into and I knew where “my people” were. Maybe I’m romanticizing this nostalgic past in my mind and the belonging part wasn’t as real as I remember it, but I even hate the jaded feeling of wondering if my happy memories are even legit.

And the very hardest part for me to come to terms with is that I spent my whole life loving Jesus the way I was taught, making good choices, doing what I was supposed to do, trying to be loyal and forgiving, and trying to put everyone else’s interests above my own, even when it was actually leaving my soul bruised and bleeding to do it. But all these decades later, does all that faithfulness earn me any credibility or voice with people who have known me my whole life? Evidently not. I think they rate some rando on a podcast recommended by some other elder who echoes their favorite talking points over my discernment or wisdom, even if that rando has been a reprobate most of their life. That is a rejection that hurts a lot.

Anyway, end of my therapy “forum journaling” for the evening. I appreciate all of you who are similarly struggling and validate that it’s hard stuff but we can still be hopeful. I pray for the healing of our collective hope.

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Yes, it IS draining.

I know this feeling well, sister. Probably not as well as you, but I’m acquainted…

And–I know you already know this, but your faithfulness does count. In the eyes of the One who matters most. :slight_smile:

Take care, sister. Thanks again for sharing that article, and for sharing your struggles as well. This forum has been an encouragement to me. I’m not the only one.
-Joshua W.

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I get what you’re saying but to be fair I think it is safe to say that the politicization of Covid-19 goes both ways. This article in NYT, Covid’s Partisan Errors - The New York Times , clearly shows that Democrats tend to grossly overestimate the chances of death and hospitalization of Covid-19 and Republicans underestimate it.

I’m not sure we’ll reach a place of coming back together with this sort of thinking, “ What does it look like to reconcile with those Christians who have not followed the course illustrated by Christ’s example?” If by Christ’s example, you mean protect the weakest among us it gets complicated real quickly because don’t we then need to mask and social distance indefinitely because the are other diseases that can hospitalize immunocompromised people. What about those who have lost their businesses and life savings? What about poorer nations where people couldn’t afford to lock down because it would be choosing to starve. So one argument could be made that those countries that locked down could afford to lock down. So is someone in the Congo not following Christ’s example by not following CDC recommendations?

All that to say, I understand your point and I honestly don’t mind wearing a mask and social distancing and I got the jab but I also don’t know what experiences other people have. I would frame it in the context of acting according to your conscience and allowing others to do the same. I think the spirit of Christ would be to think the best of someone despite the stereotype they appear to be or looking beyond the political talking points. I think it is fair to say Jesus would challenge us and is challenging us to love our enemies and who else is an enemy but someone who strongly opposes you? If we are truly disciples of Christ it won’t be displayed in that we all did what the CDC recommended, it will be in that we can love our enemies, even ideological enemies. If they are truly in Christ they will be called to love you just as much you are called to love them.

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While subsets of any large group can be found who misrepresent or misunderstand statistics, it nonetheless takes a special subset to persist in pushing their error after they’ve been corrected, or to persist in listening to and spreading sources that have been shown to be more partisan and therefore propagandizing rather than truth oriented. And while your desire to call both sides to task can remain a commendable activity, it does not soften or change the reality that one side has largely been more guilty than the other for not heeding these very types of warnings.
Those who hang out here, with the general respect and approval from the community here, do promote accuracy of information, and it doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that a community stay committed to truth. Nor should those who feel compelled (often after considerable agonizing or weariness) to discontinue fellowship over these things be further subjected to charges that the onus of relationship responsibility somehow falls more on them rather than on those who have been prioritizing partisanship over truth or relationship in the first place.

I’m not saying you’re pushing that here, and your post is evenhanded (as well as the nyt article linked), and is perhaps needed in some contexts. I’m just saying the group here at the moment isn’t one of them, as they have been careful not to push false or exaggerated statistics (or to persist in pushing them if new data provides a corrective). All this to conclude that a tone-sensitive approach here is obliged to allow for some considerably warranted venting to take place.

And while all of that may have felt a lot more like pushback than welcome, nonetheless…welcome to the forum! Most first posts don’t provoke this much response. So it should count for something that you’ve made a bold entrance and must feel strongly enough to interject your take. We do welcome challenging voices.

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I liked the article because it gave more understanding of the situation in US. Elsewhere, the situation is not quite that bad although these tensions exist. One difference to note is that most democratic countries have multiple political parties and people may switch more easily from one party to another. This prevents the formation of a politically bipolar division among christians.

I attend a congregation that tries to be a home for all believers. Easier in theory than in reality. It demands much from the members as we all have to stretch our tolerance of differing cultural habits and opinions and accept the permanent incompleteness of our strive towards an ‘ideal’ situation. One of the slogans we use is ‘a home under construction’. Surprisingly many have found this principle something they want.

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The differences listed in the article are not the only ones causing fracturing. For example, one ‘problem’ has been the different hopes of young and elder members - such as the style of music and how do the Sunday services look like (a cultural thing). In our church, the old give space to young, let them have more freedom and radical ideas, responsibility and the kind of music they want. The young try to take the hopes of elder people seriously. When the worship music is not what the elder people prefer, the young often select the first and last song from the more traditional songs. This kind of small acts have helped to keep all together.

Yet, I understand why some decide to leave a local church where they do not feel comfortable. Theological reasons are a traditional cause of fracturing, to walking away. Social relationships are also a thing that matters. Few have the tolerance to be the social ‘outsider’ of the church, the person who has different opinions than others and who is not respected by other members because of the differing opinions. It may be a heavy burden and walking away may be a way to lighten the burden, assuming there is another local church available. I do not recommend being a lonely wolf outside all churches, it is not a way biblical scriptures support and seldom leads to a happy end.

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The article we are discussing addresses the state of friction in american evangelical churches with much more nuance than the binary, and politically-based arguments you lay out. This is not merely (if at all) about covid or politics. Many of us have been shifting uncomfortably in our pews for many years in regard to a wide range of challenges that have only become exacerbated by the current political and social scene. Over-simplifying the discussion makes it easy to condemn people’s struggles here as petty and self-centered. You have to look at the whole picture.

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This sort of thing is the only part I have had to do, and my main reaction to some conversations is “here’s another addition to the list of subjects to avoid,” which has, by now, grown to:
Sports (mainly just that I’m not really interested in it)
Education
Anything relating to CoViD (beyond the this-person-got-it-please-pray-for-them sort of topic)
Anything political
The Civil War
My personal research
Any possibly controversial scientific topic

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I too share your struggles.

I work in a community with people who are immunocompromised (a school) and some families are refusing masks, distancing, and vaccines.

It’s hard to face them knowing their persistence and choices that are increasing the probabilities of harm towards others.

I do not know what to do. They literally know what they are doing.

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@Mervin_Bitikofer but here’s the rub: whichever side one is listening to says this about the “other” side.

I’m shocked at the disinformation from both sides. Our confirmation bias makes us downplay utter lies from sources where we have some agreement. The role of propaganda is to divide and conquer. Until we all recognize how much of “the news” is propaganda, we will struggle.

And quite a “rub” it all is, to be sure! Agreed.

I also suggest that a continued “rub” is that the inevitable bias that any news or information sources are subject to are so often taken as an ‘open license’ that therefore it is all equally up in the air, and we may as well all just pick our favorite bias and run with it because it’s all biased anyway!

I continue to suggest that some sources are much wronger than others - both in factuality and/or even in spirit of intent. Not all wrongness is equal. Give me any day the occasional (or even not-so-occasional!) wrongness of someone whose ear is to the data, even as that data changes; over the greater (and more consistent) wrongness of the person whose ear instead is to conspiracy-mongers. The former, whilst discovering the imperfections (and even wrongness) of his or her model of a situation, is at least sensitive about that wrongness and responsive to it … always trying to improve their model to make it conform better to reality. The conspiracy-monger shows little interest in correction and instead invents more conspiracy in order to explain all the discrepancies.

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Hallelujah! False equivalence all too often serves the false prophet.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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