be humanized.

mjkimpan  —  March 13, 2013 — 4 Comments

growing up in a private christian school, my classes were a little skewed toward the perspective of evangelical christianity. in biology class i didn’t learn about the ‘theory of evolution’ because we had the truth of God’s word to tell us exactly how the earth was created.

in six literal days.

we also learned in ‘marriage and family’ class that it was best if a woman stayed at home to be a mother rather than pursuing a career; in ‘understanding the times’ we learned how wrong other religions were and were tested on our ability to debunk their ludicrous claims (unlike our own faith’s claims, which we were expected to accept in faith and defend); and in our ‘senior seminar’ we actually learned about the evils of rock and roll by watching a movie called ‘Hell’s Bells :: the danger of rock and roll.’

i think the same people made this video about beyoncé.

but i digress.

to challenge these literal and fundamentalist interpretations of select scriptures was to declare oneself anathema, and even at the height of my rebellion (most often shown with an untucked shirt or chewing gum in class), i didn’t quite have the cojones to do it.

any time that i did happen to ‘act up’ and spoke out of turn in mrs. fox’s science class – i was made to write out by hand a passage now etched in my memory through mere repetition :: james 3:1-9

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God…this should not be. 

that last verse stuck with me.

as someone who daily engages in difficult conversations with both sides of some of the most culturally divisive topics of our day, it seems to me that too often our addiction to binary answers and the polarizing rhetoric of win/lose || yes/no || in/out becomes used as an excuse and springboard to attack, devalue, demonize and dehumanize those with whom we disagree.


 i can’t actually think of anything more anti-gospel.

in the creation poem at the start of scripture – whether taken to be a literal six days or not – the triune God creates humankind and declares it their personal masterpiece.

 this. is. very. good.

and yet day in and day out, we – the crown of the Divine’s creation – attempt to rob one another of our humanity through using the weapon of our tongues – or keyboards – and some of us believe the things that are said.

we believe the lies told and the accusations heard that tear away at the fabric of our self-worth.

we begin to think in self-destructive ways and we begin to treat the Other – ‘them’ similarly in an effort to make ourselves feel better about ‘us’. it’s adolescent behavior all over again.

rather than dehumanizing, let’s be humanized. together. all of us.

let the last shackle fall that holds you back from being yourself;
help others break free and realize they are of worth and value,
that each of us are
made in the very likeness and image of God.

be. humanized.

  • Eric Masters

    I hear christian school stories like this from you, my wife, and many others and it makes me count my blessings that I wasn’t subjected to that. With my personality, there’s no way I would be having this conversation now. Just tangential contact with the church in my youth was enough to leave me cynical and angry.
    Sorry, I know this is off-topic but I’m always impressed when somebody endures something like that and isn’t either brainwashed or vehemently bitter towards the church, as I know I lack that temperance.

    • i’m grateful for my experiences, although i *did* go through my own angry and cynical reaction as well – something i still have to watch out for.
      thanks for your encouragement, as always.

  • i like this. 🙂

  • tommy

    In yesterday’s Red Letter Christian offering, Emily Timbol wrote an open letter to Tim Tebow. It didn’t take long for the commenters to devolve into the non-productive marginalizing you write about every day, Michael. Makes me wonder how close, or rather, how far you and Andrew are to see significant progress in building that bridge you so often display.