Christians Open to Diversity

Christianity teaches that each member of the human race has a purpose in life which will bring them happiness.

Post-modern secular society says that humans are not participating in any kind of trajectory at all.

Christianity teaches that love is self sacrificing.

Much of secular society holds that love is defined by desire.

Christianity values human life because it is an image of God, valued by Him.

The world tells us that values is assigned mostly by function.

These differences between our particular culture and Christianity create an atmosphere in which a Christian serve a particularly valuable function in society. Christians will always be outsiders, aliens, and underdogs. Every day life, for a Christian, is full of evaluation of everything going on around her. She must decide, often instantly, whether the messages and

demands coming at her from all sides are consonant, or dissonant with her faith, and by extension, her identity and life.

A Christian should be focused on the world beyond this one, when we will live in a world made right, rather than a flawed human culture. All cultures are flawed and imperfect as the individual people that create them. Also like the individuals involved, all cultures are beautiful and adorned with hints of the splendor of truth. One is just as good as any other because they are all hopelessly ineffective for promoting happiness.

The Christian also holds that there is hope for individual people, and even communities within a culture. Christ bridges the gap between our inadequacies, and the happiness for which we are made. Christ is the only way, and he works through every culture, and every possible channel.

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Some colors are brighter, some points sharper. But they are all reflecting parts of light.

When meeting a person, or a culture, or a community, for the first time, a Christian must first know that God is at work in all cultures. This too, though it may seem strange and foreign, has goodness in it. This assumption gives the Christians interaction with a foreign culture hermeneutic to hope and respect. Many small judgments will follow; evaluation of ideas and values against the standard of Christ, who is the source of all goodness. Always the goal is enrichment through the truth and beauty of Christ working through a different life, or culture. A Christian is also called to evangelize, bring Christ to the world more explicitly. A Christian is called to reject those ideas that violate who she is and who God is; to bring light to dark parts of culture and drive out evil.

For these reasons, a Christian transcends her culture while remaining a part of it. She can come to diversity with an open mind because human constructs of society are not her highest authority. She will always be an outsider, so every culture is an opportunity to search for truth, and to test her own assumptions about what is true.  Her own understanding of God is challenged and refined with every encounter.

Ironically, Christianity is often criticized for producing close minded, judgmental, superstitious, sheep. Christianity helped, for good or ill, to produce a culture that can value diversity and openness to being enriched by other cultures. The Christian who strives to live the gospel is particularly well equipped to engage her culture, and others around her, to promote true diversity in a healthy way.

Karen Mannino lives in Spokane where there is hardly any racial diversity, and everyone’s grandmother was Catholic, but nobody care anymore. Her favorite kind of diversity is generational. She works in a pottery studio with potters of all ages and thinks it’s the most fun she has had since theater in high school.

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