We make war, we are told, for the love of peace. We subvert our Bill of Rights and impose our will abroad for the sake of freedom and law. We honor greed and waste with the name of economy. We allow ever greater wealth and power to accumulate in the hands of a privileged few only to provide jobs for working people and charity to the poor. And we sanctify all this a Christian, though the Gospels support none of it by so much as a line or a word.

– Wendell Berry in The Way of Ignorance: Letter to Daniel Kemmis p.147

This has been increasingly an age of fire. We now travel and transport our goods by means of controlled explosions in the engines of our vehicles. We run our factories, businesses, and households by means of fires or controlled explosions in furnaces and power plants. We fight our wars by controlled, and sometimes uncontrolled, explosions. Violence, in short, is the norm of our economic life and our national security. The line that connects the bombing of a civilian population to the mountain “removed” by strip mining to the gullied and poisoned field to the clear-cut watershed to the tortured prisoner seems to run pretty straight.

– Wendell Berry in The Way of Ignorance: Letter to Daniel Kemmis p.146

This was recently posted on Red Letter Christians as part of an article titled “Beyond Liberal and Conservative” by Shawn Casselberry. While it is about the liberal – conservative divide in the Church, I think it applies to many debates we find ourselves in.

Here are some things we all can do to move beyond the conservative and liberal divide:

  • Stop demonizing those we disagree with. We need to unplug from the political shows that only fuel our fears, animosity, and suspicion of each other.
  • We need to welcome dialogue and honest conversation. We need to create spaces where we can tell our stories without judgment and really listen to each other.
  • Learn to laugh at our pettiness. There’s so much more that unites us than what divides us.
  • Stay at the table even when it’s uncomfortable.
  • Believe the best in each other. Realize we are all trying to have a faithful response to what we believe.
  • Look for truth and God in our opponents and their views.
  • Work together. Come together on the things we can agree on to bring about change in our communities (fighting poverty, ending violence against women, educating children, glorifying Christ by loving one another).
  • Stop selling out to political parties. We cannot sell our votes or faith for political power.
  • Be prophetic and not partisan. Don’t’ let anyone off the hook, challenge both conservatives and liberals.
  • Be more humble. Acknowledge the limitations of our viewpoints, the finiteness of our opinions, and the brokenness of our institutions. As Paul said, we all see through glass dimly.”
  • Think of each other as brothers and sisters rather than conservative and liberal.
  • Start dreaming about what we can do when we move beyond liberal and conservative.