Archive for the ‘sociality’ Category

This last weekend I attended a wedding rehearsal, a wedding rehearsal dinner, a wedding, a Sunday church service and a graduation party.  I also hosted old friends in my home, friends who were visiting from Colorado for the wedding.

In all the social groups I was in this last weekend, I consumed a few sumptuous eats — yummy tacos, savory hamburgers, spicy spinach salads, tender grilled veggies  — laughed several delicious laughs, drank IPA’s moderately, guffawed considerably, confabulated consistently and semi-solidly connectified — modestly.

My friends and I talked about home flooring, Ferraris, Paris, a cat’s ability to recognize individuals, other people’s girlfriends and our favorite European cities.

Thus, I am a known collaborator and identifiable social accomplice. I am a knownificant. I am a partakiphant. I am a card-carrying memberaphile of a group bonded by God, church, friendship and family.

As a result, I see myself through the lens of the normalized socialized collectively identifiable.

This is all fine, but sometimes it feels just weird to belong —  and yet to not always feel like you belong —  to feel a part and apart.

I think you know what I mean.

Last weekend I spent a good deal of time alone, I ate cold cereal alone, I finished up two public speeches on my laptop — alone, I watched a B rated western on my iPad — in bed —  alone, and I drove alone to the events I attended in my car. I also stayed one night on my side of the bed — alone — because my wife didn’t feel good.

I am a known alone.

I am socialized.

And I am a hermit.

I love people.

I love solitude.

I love to read, eat, think, write, wash my cat and hang out with her —  alone.  In fact, I often prepare for being in community by being solitary, and yet not completely because when I am alone I am often thinking about what to say to them when I am with them.

And yet, skin — it is a wall, a file folder, a divider. I persist as a bag of skin, meeting and greeting other bags of skin. We are separated from each other by skin, hung on bones. We are autonomous skin-and-bone bags, variously greeting and meeting and eating with other individuated skin-and-bone bags.

Even when I am with you, I sense that I am not you. I am walled within my skin, I am walled within my experience, I am corralled within my emotions, I am high-fenced within my perspectives.

Who am I?

Who are you?

We are shards — struck from the same vase, but we have fallen into different places on the ground.

We are connected.

Many things unite us, food, faith, fondness, family.

We are alone.

Many things divide us — food preferences, types of faith, lack of fondness, family conflict.

I am both connected and alone. You are the same. We are one. We are not.

I am thinking about it. I exist severally and jointly, even with the human being that I am the most one with — my dear wife.

And yet, all this considered, I want to be more so —  connected and individuated  — bothly.

I want to be better with people — my wife, my daughters, my friends, my church community, the whole world.

I want to better be alone, with me, not them, just me, not them, good with me, nothing to do with them.

What about you?

Privacy is now the fixation of modern society.

Why? It’s threatened.

I own the issue, we all should. My bank account was once hacked, my Apple ID has been hacked, and yet I still retain many of the intimate privacies of my own society.

What to do? It’s a balancing act. We want to be known: we don’t. So we allow information about ourselves to get out. I do: I pay for items at the store with my cards and my phone and so I trade a bit of my privacy for convenience.

I keep my personal feelings hidden at times, and so I trade being known for the privilege of personal privacy.

How do we best manage such a game? Carefully.

Here are some of my recent thoughts on this in axiomatic, proverbial and aphoristic form.

These mini-wisdoms balance the extremes, as we should. We all need society; we all need to be alone. Try these on for size.

Hone the edge of your alone; zone your own precious unknown.

Our passwords are fig leaves; they cover our modern modesties.

We fake our smiles and our profiles.

To be let alone takes the power of a throne.

The privilege of privacy savors its society.

Everyone is a privacy we judge by what we do not know.

Protect your soul; hack your mind.

A date is a hack; a marriage is an identity theft.

Convenience does business using the currency of privacy.

The difference between privacy and duplicity is intention.

What does society gain if it privatizes the whole world and loses its collective soul?

Notoriety sells its privacy to buy its own celebrity.

Our deepest privacies are filed under our deepest dishonesties.

Lately, I find myself particularly attracted to proverbial truth. Axioms, epigrams and proverbs get at things — profoundly yet simply. By such short wisdoms we can nicely juxtapose extremes. To find more of my proverbs on various topics you can visit

Recently, I avoided bringing up politics with a friend.

Recently, I didn’t insert my opinion into an animated discussion taking place in front of me about religion.

Recently, I forgave a person who rejected me, intentionally and put aside in my mind the things they did to harm me.

I performed these mental disciplines for one reason — for the sake of unity.

Unity is oneness of mind and feeling among persons. It is concord, getting along, working together, having harmony, being in agreement.

I didn’t, in my recent efforts to create unity, deny or ignore the differences I have with others. I know what the differences are, and I have spoken and written about them in the past, but in these cases I choose unifying behaviors in the face of disunifying factors.

Often unity is choosing concord and team work and harmony, even when this doesn’t entirely exist. Unity is something we choose in the face of difference, tension and conflict. To chose to be united does not mean that we deny our conflicts, no, simply that we honor our relationships more than our differences at singularly significant junctures.

Of course this isn’t universal. There are some relationships that will not be repaired, some discussions during which we will not choose to overlook our differences, some points of view we will give not quarter to, some people we simply will not agree with, be in concert with, team up with, be married to or resolve conflict with — ever. But that aside, unity is still a huge core value for humanity.

Unity is a passion that puts aside a good to achieve a greater good.

Jesus’s passion for unity healed the bridge between Jew and Greek.

Abraham Lincoln’s passion for a United States of America saved the nation during its horrible civil war.

Unity, on a German soccer team, won the World Cup in 2014.

Great leaders and great teams have always trafficked in a profound sense of unity.

I have friends who are very conservative. I have friends who are extremely liberal. They are all friends, by my choice. I choose to be with people I don’t share basic points of view in common with. I share something greater than that with them. I share mutual respect, friendship, an honoring of differences, a common pursuit of the love of love and the love of God.

Through a passion for unity my friends and I amalgamate, consolidate, cooperate and affiliate around what we have in common. Through our eagerness for oneness we diminish, put aside, nullify and forget the things that divide us. Our humility — which springs from our awareness of our own ignorance and incompleteness without each other — this is a kind of divine miscibility. Through it, we mix.

Religion has a long history of division, conflict and war. Religious people have tended to be the most judgmental people on earth. It should not and need not be so. The truly spiritual were meant to be, even commanded to be bridge builders, gate openers, way-makers, love-makers, peace-makers and unity mongers.

“Blessed are the peace makers,” said Jesus, “for they are the children of God.”

Check out some of my modern proverbs, aphorism and epigrams about unity on my blog at

Most of us live alone inside ourselves more than is good for us. Whenever we are out, there are people to meet, people ready for a good conversation, some human warmth, eye contact, a smile.

In a study on being social, behavioral scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder went up to commuters in a Chicago train station and asked them — in return for a $5 Starbucks gift card — to talk to the stranger who sat down next to them on the train that morning. Other commuters, also gifted with Starbucks cards, were told to follow the commuter norm of keeping to themselves. By the end of the train ride, the commuters who talked to a stranger reported having a more positive experience than those who sat quiet and alone.

Talking to people, even to strangers, it turns out, makes us feel better. Even making eye contact has been shown to make us feel more connected.

Lately I’ve had some fun interactions with bank tellers, with store checkers, with dental assistants, with neighbors. They were short, but they all left me feeling a little better, a little less alone, a little happier.

Life is a reach, of warmth, toward each other, or it is a clutch of protection, inwardly, where we wad up our inner human linings in our fists and scurry home in the cold — alone.

I recommend the reach.

I had lunch with some old ladies today. I like old ladies! They like to eat and laugh and talk and eat — with each other. Me too.

One of them, Louise, told me she has been making quilts. “They aren’t quiet,” she said. She isn’t either. I like her.

Another one, who is Irish, told me London is her favorite city. It’s mine too! We bonded — Londonishly. I like her.

Several of us talked about the need to connect better with other people. It is possible to “change,” one of them effused, to grow toward being more social. She recently moved in with her daughter and her daughter’s husband, and she told us that she has come to love her son-in-law. “I love him, she said. “It wasn’t easy,” she added.

Amazing! She’s in her eighties! I like her.

I used to be shy; now I’m not — way not! Some of my friends used to be very quiet. They sure aren’t now. Like me, they’ve morphed. We’ve become little old ladies, groupish, inclined toward eating with other people while laughing. Tough guys and CEO-type girls can learn stuff from old ladies.

I believe in personality miracles. What was socially dead can live again, and inspire others to pop their turtlish heads out of their safe shells too. At any age, we can make new friends.

It seems to me that we humans tend toward shy, quiet, guarded and reserved, but that we would be happier if we became free, open, loud, zany, nonjudgmental, safe and more social.

The little old ladies think so too.

“How does it work?”

“How does what work??


“Really now, I’m supposed to know that!”

“Yeah — you are.”

“Well, if I had to say, at this odd and slightly confusingly clear moment in time, it seems to me that life works kind of like legos.”

“What? Really? Legos? Aren’t legos kind of for little kids, and maybe losing ground to tablets?”

“Well, not yet, but I suppose the snappy things come and go, model cars and planes, Erector sets, various kinds of building blocks and jigsaw puzzles,  but our fascination with connection, with making connections, that’s life. Think Facebook, Instagram,Twitter, Starbucks, teams, school, friends,  church, family, true love — we want to connect, meet, exchange, belong, be friends, be family, snap on.”

“So, what do we do with that?”

“Well, if we are already a part of a team, a club, a  business, a school, a church, a nonprofit, a friendship circle, a family, and we want to do life well, then we should lead in creating more snap on points, more ways for people to bridge over their loneliness and meet and talk, honestly, to lego-up and build something cool, fun, fascinating, big and colorful, together. That’s what people want. They want to fit, to bridge, to snap, on, and be part off something bigger than a small plastic piece of themselves. They want a buddy. They want a mentor. They want a cousin. They want a brother. They want a spouse. They want a teacher.  They want a dad. They want a mom, or something even remotely like one, someone, anyone, who brakes the silence and listens and … connects.”

“That’s a challenge!”


“So many of us, these days, seem to be shy, hurt, burned, distracted, overwhelmed, busy, awkward and most of all — afraid, of each other.”

“That’s true, but if we don’t go there, to those real points of connection, then we are just left with a life of tiny lonely pieces, psychic fragments, small isolated, island lives, little junked up materialistic silos. If we don’t connect, we’ll be like sand grains lost in big shoes, dust particles floating in the great airy expanses over the deserts. We will be some weird kind of modern R. W. Emerson, self-reliance with earphones on, lonely iron strings playing one note, social hermits with our heads bent down permanently over our smart phones.  Someone must, if we are going to live well, really do life well, connect us.”

“So what am I supposed to do?”

“Look up, out of the trench. See people. Regain social ground. Discover again the lost art of hospitality. Invite a lego to play, to dinner, to coffee, to study, to hang out, to bridge time and space and connect face-to-face, not text-to-text, not screen-to-screen, not pic-to-pic, but up close and warmly personal. Actually have relationships, and facilitate them between other people. Go be that engineer of sociality, the socio-lego-land creator, that infra-face-structure designer, for them, now, please, will you?”

“Okay, I’ll get right on that!”


“No, thank you, really! I’ve been kinda lonely lately.”

“Yeah, me too.”

As I was driving down a street this week, I glanced through my driver’s side window and found myself looking through a bus window in the lane besides me. And through my window and the bus window, I saw a set of eyes looking at me. We saw each other through two moving windows — my car, his bus —  right in the eyes, maybe six feet away. He was an older gentleman, Mexican I think, with a serious expression.

We were both moving along the street,  framed in our windows and with that one, short glance we traveled together until I looked back at the road to see where I was going.

As I drove on I wondered, “What was he thinking? Was it, ‘I’m glad I don’t have to drive, that I can just ride home peacefully on the bus.’  or perhaps, ‘I hope someday I have a car again, so I can come and go as I please.'” Was he perhaps thinking about something that has happened to him in a small village in Mexico, where he grew up, thinking so intensely about when he was a child, about that time when his mother …

I don’t know, but it brings up the question for me:  How present am I, in the community of the present, in the collaborative  of the moment, in the social within the now, in the car, watching the man in the bus, in the now of the now within the core of the very now?

I remember Pascal’s observation that we wander around in times that don’t really belong to us. Remembering the past, we miss the present; worrying about the future, we may not even see someone right in front of us.

That happens, but increasingly I am find myself wanting to travel in the present, which means to actually look over and see the man in the bus traveling beside me, to see him in all his obfuscated beauty, to not really understand him but nonetheless to  see him as my companion in the now, and understand that we have a shared, universal human journey, asserted and expressed in the raw, transient and yet extant present.

The bus rider and I share the same street, the same city, the same state, the same country, the same world, the same universe. He is my brother. We share the DNA of the present. We share the current animal, vegetable, mineral, social, political, spiritual now. Am I making too much of this? I am not making enough of this! We have missed, missed, missed and missed this infinitely.

I want to see my world. I want to live fully in it and with it.  To see it, I must look at it. To look at it, I must linger on it, for a moment. I must dawdle in time, fiddle around in the present, goof off in the slip and slide of the near and the immediate. Indeed, after seeing the man on the bus,  I should have pulled over at the next bus stop and gotten on, introduced myself as the man in the car, and asked him about himself. Then I would have discovered a bit of how different from me he is, and how much the same, how perhaps, he is really me, and I am him.

I have lived in the same community for a long time.  I know a lot of people! I talk with people all day long. Do I need another conversation, do I need another friend? Do I need to be getting on busses when I have a car, to be accosting old men on public transportation?

I do! We do! We should! We have not even begun to enter into what is present for us, to bridge, to connect, to converse, to empathize, to understand, to laugh, to grieve, to know each other, to actually see, touch, think with and understand each other.

There are no projects, no work loads, no places to get to, no duties waiting here, no responsibilities lingering there that should keep glass between us.

There are no class or economic or social or racial or religious differences that are so compelling that these should keep us from busing a short while with each other.

There are no memories so strong as to erase the moment of your unique presence here on this street with me; there are no worries so strong as to obscure the immediacy of the precious you-ness of you here with me.

I have a prayer I have been praying, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to live in the uniqueness of the social now.

“God, I beg you, send me my people. Send me Indian people. Send me Chinese people. Send me Brazilian people. Send me Mexican people. Send me anyone you wish, but please send them all. God, I beg you, drive your bus up my street and bring me my people so that I can befriend them and take care of them.”

Why pray this?

I pray this out of the awareness that this is my present-tense reality, and that I want more of it  — the bus, the window, another person, our eyes meeting.

There really is nothing else here, right now except this kind of divine, immediate sociality. The past is gone, the future not yet come, nothing but the present moment and all the beautiful people God sees fit to give me in it.


I know no one who is self-sustaining. Someone I don’t even know roasted and ground the coffee my wife had for breakfast today.

An army of people made the car I will drive to work.

An army of  farmers, clothiers, cooks, teachers, doctors, technicians and janitors and waiters prop up our everyday lives. We are pampered by chefs, mechanics and IT experts.

We say, “She lives alone,” but she or he doesn’t. We all live in clans.

And we always have. We come from people: spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, cousins, nephews,  pet dogs and cats innumerable.  We inhabit the thundering herd of family, are run over by it and run over it repeatedly.

We say, “She’s single.” She’s not and he’s not.  She’s double; he’s triple. People surround her, in her apartment. People surround him, at work, on the street, on the TV.

Tonight I lie on my bed in my own private bedroom blogging, creating ideas for my people, all around me on the internet, my readers. I’m not alone, even when I am alone.  I  live in a house in a community, in a family, a member of a  tribe.  Recently I borrowed a wheel barrow, from my neighbor Ted.  Last night,  I called  my mom to chat. I dissolved into the safe, familiar niche of my own people. My people work hard; our unincorporated family concern is to care for hurting people with broken lives and we have too much stuff.

No one I know lives alone at Walden Pond. I ran into a teenager at Starbucks last week who had just moved back home. He was sick of stealing food from Ralphs and sleeping in an abandon Henry’s store. He had a moment of clarity, otherwise known as malnutrition, and he moved home. He is a social being with social needs and a social dysfunction.

We try to fix social dysfunction. We create schools and churches and counseling centers. We labor passionately  to enrich each other, but our work too often treats the member of the tribe as a solitary individual. The caregivers in our schools and churches are often blind to the social network students deeply inhabit. We see a student, before us, and think them autonomous. They are not. They have come to us from people, and they will go back to people and they come needy for  love and they come in conflict with parents and in flight from them and in a mad rush toward them all at once.

The drug addicted father who I  know has a family he buys drugs from down by the beach. The recovering drug addicted  has a family group he attends to help him not return to smoke and drop and swirl with his fellow users.

The woman who didn’t make it to work sane last week had a reason. She was emotionally beaten up in the car on the way to work by her mother.  She turned the car and took her mom home and came back to work crying. She didn’t  know what to do with this. Another older mom found her and cried with her in a side room. Mom to mom, they sat together with tears, trying to shore up the broken relational bridge back at home.

This is the deal. They come to us, to us who are teachers and counselors and pastors  pre-conflicted, mid-conflicted and post-traumatic conflicted, and we march them through math, reading,  science, theology and therapy as if they are solitary brains, thinking. They are not. They are conflicted brains thinking, conflicted with the thinking of ten to five hundred other voices.  They are communities of thought. They think like their parents did. They think like their friends do. They think in systematic, conventional, group-minded patterns.

Take the church, as a helping institution. At the  church, valuing the individual as we do, we rush into its practice of pedagogy in the darkest of unenlightened ways. We set up conventional structures — women’s ministry, children’s ministry, youth ministry, men’s ministry, young married ministry, singles ministry. And by these artificial constructs, we divide and disassociate. Each woman or man or child is treated only as a woman or man or child, not a husband or wife or girl friend or boyfriend or daughter or son or member of a work force or community. People live in teams, but we treat them like they are individuated sports heroes or like solo movie villains with no accomplices. People are best understood as  plural yet we keep trying to teach and heal them as solitary individuals.

Put plainly, the shocking thing about helping institutions is this: the people we serve live socially integrated, intergenerational lives and yet we keep putting them in age-graded, gender-specific,  discipline-generated cells where they get no help at all on how to go out and live in community.

The young mother needs the folkloric truths of the old mother and father.

The good, safe father needs to be the mentor to the young girl who doesn’t have a father.

The old man needs the comfort of a child.

The child struggling to read needs to be adopted by a new grandma who will read with her.

The young woman needs the young man to be her friend before he is her lover.

Our counsleors, pastors and teachers need the care of each other to understand how they are so similar to the people they are trying to help.

We live life mixed together, intergenerational not aged-graded,  more human than genderized,  social not individuated,  tribal and interdependent and integrated.

And so we need to be instructed, therapized and healed in social, collective and collaborative ways.

It’s 5:23 am. I’m alone, sitting in my chair with my coffee, thinking, the cats camping out on my lap and nearby.

Last night I went to my friend Tim’s retirement party. About 75 people were there. We qued up for pizza, pasta, and chicken fingers and told stories about various explosions and fires connected to Tim.  Tim confessed at one point,  in a moment of hilarious candor, after numerous fireworks and burning-engine and flaming-Christmas-tree stories,  “I love fire!”

Then he paced the floor thanking people and honoring others and making jokes and flailing his arm about like a puppet in the hands of a maniac,  as he is wont to do when he gets excited, which is always. Tim is no sleepy house cat. He is a wild cat, a man on fire. For a few years he was in the habit of taking 75 or so Christmas trees to the desert, roping them together and lighting them on fire.

This morning, sitting alone with my coffee, thinking about Tim, it comes to me that when life is social, warm, burning, it is best, and that it is always social.

Alone is a fiction. There is no being alone. In a sence I am never alone, because I know Tim.

Tim is one of my very best friends. I’ve known Tim for about 35 years. He was the best man in my wedding. We have a lifetime of talks and some crazy adventures and some rough times too.  I rely on Tim; he relies on me. If he were to do something out of character that brought shame to him, I would feel the shame too. If I were to do something wrong, something out of character, something out of alignment with the good reputation that I have in the community, something that disgraced me, Tim would be disgraced too. And in this way, we are accountable to each other, and not really alone in our behaviors and choices.

We have fed each others fire; we burn for some of the same causes; we have each others backs.

Sometimes we speak of privacy. I write this in a private moment. We have created places of privacy, homes and fenced yards and bathrooms, but we don’t see this thing of isolation even close to correctly. Even in those more hidden places, we are never alone.  Our friends are there, and there is something else there, and on this  I am finally getting my mind straight.

God is there, everywhere, always with me. Privacy is a myth.  The Bible, that best book on life and God and reality, says that God watches us, that he sees it all, that his eyes cast around to see who relies on him and he energizes those who do. Last night when I watched Tim lounging about the room, arms up and down, laughing and waving and yelling and creating warmth and love and kindness in the room, I saw a man filled with God, not alone, fueled up on the watching eyes of God.

And I get it more now, although not yet as I will get it when I finally begin to wake up to our utter and complete and irrevocable not-aloneness. God is omniscient. God sees, it all, and when we know that, and live in that, and live as if that is true, which hardly anyone I ever met does, then we are different. If there is no privacy, then my behavior changes, because there is perpetual accountability and endless energy to do the right thing.

Listen, someone else is always in the room! I am growing wisely paranoid. We are being watched! And we are always creating stories than can and will be told. There is no movement of our fingers that isn’t part of the plot that is being written for public consumption, that can’t be told and retold as we live and then retire from work and love and hate and life.

This begs, pleads for, falls down and cries for the question: How would we live if every moment were filmed and shown at every moment to everyone? It is! God sees every moment of our lives. He is consistently present. He even knows our every thought.  And so we must each one always ask ourselves, “Do I want to do this right now, think this right now, live this out right now, seeing that God is right now watching me and recording my story?”

It burns in me! Pile on more Christmas trees. It explodes. Set off more fireworks. It smolders in me and in you, the glowing ember of God. It flares up in every moment, and it makes me want to live smart, aware, different, as if the lights are never off, and they aren’t and we are never, ever, thankfully ever — alone.

We are living public stories. We are always living out what will be told at our retirement party. We are always fighting off fire, or letting it burn in us. We are irrevocably public, and we would do well to live as if the whole world and God were always watching.

It is.

He is.

David CookWe love the idea of the last person standing. Our most popular TV shows end with one person: Last year, David Cook won American Idol. Melissa Rycroft won on The Bachelor. JT won Survivor. Gymnast Shawn Johnson won Dancing with The Stars.

If you knew none of that, you are a superior person.

We have a love affair with the winner, the best. We dig Wyatt Earp, left standing at the OK corral when the smoke and dust settles.

I still remember winning the ping pong tournament in my high school gym class. Ten feet back from the table, I slammed my way to victory while the cheerleaders went wild. Wait, there were no cheer leaders at ping pong games, and I was close to the table. Never mind, I was still euphoric. I also won a monopoly game once.  I have never forgotten the flush of power as my stacks of fake cash grew in front of me. Donald T. Winner. 

 It’s socialized, this get-one-dollar-above-the-rest thing. In school, we graduate ranked, A’s received diplomas first, flags brought up the rear. In history class, we studied mostly risen-to-the-top American men and women, mostly men.

Columbus discovered America. Jedediah Smith opened the West. Harriet Tubman saved the slaves. FDR fixed the Depression. Colby Bryant saved the Lakers,  Billy Graham saved America, or was it Bono?

Forget the fact that none of this discovering and saving happened because of one person. We Americans love rugged individualism, the Horatio Algers rags-to-riches myth, Emersonian self-reliance, to thine own pickup truck be true, if you want it done right, do it yourself.

Admittedly there is reason in this view. Competition motivates. People excel. Individualist should take responsibility for their actions. If you do nothing, nothing will happen.

“Yes” to personal responsibility, but the superior person at the top thing, it is really a myth. Every person on earth is held up everyday by an army of supporters. Someone grew the breakfast you ate today, made the shoes you walk in.

Melissa All the celebs and heroes of history won a place with a virtual network of support and co-contributers with them: everyone was gifted by God, taught by teachers, nurtured by a parental adults, carried along by their following or voting fans. FDR didn’t stop the depression, all hard working Americans contributed, but we love to trumpet the lone hero with the office and the trophy. Melissa Rycroft dances well with Tony, her professional guide.

In reality, life doesn’t nicely fit in the individualistic groove. Life is not lone heroes, self-reliance, individualistic identities. There is a deep connectedness, interdependence and unity to all living things. And as we struggle for the best life, we find that it isn’t about beating anyone else to the top, nor about creating rank, nor about making superior distinctions.


We painted the high windows on the exterior of our church recently. With my camera, I caught the painter framed in the windows,  him outside painting, me inside shooting, him distorted in the glass, a glowing solo figure. The picture doesn’t represent reality. There was a team behind the man in the glass.  A historic building specialist recommended the right color. An artist chose the exact hue. At the paint company, a person mixed the color. A friend prepared the surface of the wood.  One man, in the glass? A whole team renewed the church.  

In the Bible there is a verse that radically undercuts the distinctions that keep us apart.

Galatians 3:28 says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

For Christians, this blows up the individualistic, better-than-thou, hold-some-down, rise-to-the-podium, super competitive living thing.  Galatians 3:28 is the emancipation proclamation of New Testament.

Boom, no race, no Greek nor Jew. Boom, no class, no slave nor free. Boom, no gender, no male or female. Boom, no division, no exclusion, no discrimination, no stand-apart individualism – in Jesus. Just liberating, freeing, thriving-together life.

This Christian truth smashes national prejudice, social domination, and gender exclusion.  In Christ the only real nationality is humanity. The only social class is the forgiven class. Gender? We are equal inheritors of God’s promises.  

Freedom from oppressive restrictions or divisions is the essence of the gospel of Christ.

The women in leadership question? I believe the restrictions placed on women in other parts of the Bible were addressed to specific problems, but here we find the universal Christian perspective.  Women are in no way spiritually less than men. Men and women are free to serve side-by-side, at all levels. Christ empowers women.

The race issue? True Christianity equally accepts all races.  The bride of Christ is not racially defined. She, the church, is Mexican and Black and Asian and Anglo and Middle Eastern, all family, all wonderfully racially intermarried, one in Christ.

Does this bother anyone? Then they may want to pick a religion that discriminates.  Christianity doesn’t.

Rich and poor? White collar and blue collar? Slave and master? In true Christianity, there are no collars, only various imitations of Jesus. There is no class but the forgiven class. Homeless and homed sit and serve side-by-side. 

Recently I made chicken soup for party. I cut up onions, carrots, celery, chicken. I threw in rice. Then I put in my secret ingredient, the spice Cumin. Bam! It kicked the soup up two notches.

Try Cumin straight. You won’t go for much. Spices, alone are not very palatable. Try Cayenne pepper straight.  But put it in soup, on chicken? You’ll want to go back for seconds.

Each one of us is a spice. Thrown in the pot together, something very good, very desirable, very life-giving comes out. 

American Idol begins a new season soon. The goal will be to find out who gets to the top. But real life begins right now, and the best goal is to see who can be included next in the mix.