Five unsettling trends: Society will remain deeply divided
Oct. 20, 2022
By Rev. Rick King
5 Unsettling trends in the culture and how the church can meet them
III. Society will remain deeply divided
Last week, I wrote about the trend of self-orientation we’re seeing in people in our post-pandemic culture. It results from a combination of pent-up demand brought on by COVID restrictions over the past couple of years and a desire to live free of anybody telling them what to do or not do, and what they can have or not have.
You may have read or seen news reports about the uptick in the number of people breaking rules, hoarding goods (with pictures of empty shelves in stores), cutting into vaccine lines, bidding wars on house prices, and booking vacations and anything else they believe they deserve and try to make sure they get. And the new thing seems to be the level of anger among people thinking and acting selfishly.
And when lots of people in the culture are acting selfishly, we see a whole lot of competition, and blaming, and finger-pointing, and mischaracterizing the opposing viewpoint in order to win an argument: a deeply divided culture. And this is often reflected in congregations.
In my faith and politics work with Isaiah, I’m seeing it reflected in voting patterns and different generations’ activism, and the aggression, bitterness, and animosity that have developed for more than five years now.
What does this mean for congregations and their leaders? For one thing, it means we need to focus on the long view, building community and practicing compassion and seeking understanding with each other, especially with those who are of a different generation, political party, or opinion on an issue.
The church can be a laboratory, a practice facility for how to meet division and rage in the world around us with compassion, curiosity, and an open heart.
No false or forced unity. Just a willingness to listen, ask good questions, and resist the temptation to try to change the other person’s mind.