It’s a new day.
Well, it’s kinda been a new day for a while, but you get the drift. Last night, we crowned a Miss America who is of Indian descent, and people are losing their minds. First off, let me defend the Miss America pageant a bit (though I totally didn’t even know it was on last night). When I was a kid, the Miss America pageant was a family event. When that came on, we all sat and watched these ladies represent each state of the country, and we’d cast our vote at the beginning of the show for who’d win. True, we were particularly interested in the black contestants, but 20 years ago there weren’t many of them anyway. It was a fun, sort of, game night for our family. I think my mom still does it.
So I’m not tripping over pageants and how they degrade women and blah-blah-blah. I think that has less to do with the ladies, and more to do with the folks watching. But that’s not what this blog is about.
This blog is about the era we are walking into. An era of justice and tolerance.
A New Day
It’s this generation who voted in a black President with the name Obama (which is WAY too close to Osama), rose up to affirm rights for all to love and be married, and saw an Indian women win a Miss America pageant. Even Hollywood’s got in on the fun. In the near future, we’ve got four or five justice (slave) movies (The Butler, 12 Years a Slave, both a Winnie and a Nelson Mandela movie, and Carry Me Home) coming out. (Sidenote: how is it that Hollywood is so good at reading society while the church is so behind).
I’m not saying we’ve “made it” in America, but there certainly seems to be a swelling of tolerance and equality in the American landscape. The next generation couldn’t care less what color you are, what country your parents or grandparents came from, or what sex you’re attracted to. They are unapologetic about their belief that people are people. They are erasing the lines. They are shouting loudly. But what are they saying?
Miss America is just another example of the people getting what they want. Now, I’ve coined the phrase “there’s forbidden fruit in every garden.” This is certainly true in the garden of tolerance. But I’m sitting here wondering if the big “C” church is taking notice. Conservative pew-thumpers who offer “we don’t just follow society” sort of statements are, as usual, missing the point. I don’t want to “follow society,” I want to communicate with it. I want to connect with it. And when such an obvious movement of justice and equality is on the minds of so many Americans, I see an opportunity to introduce Jesus in a real and tangible way to it. And if that means that I need to step outside my little box of traditional liturgy into some places I’m uncomfortable with, then so be it.
What Miss America, homosexual marriage, President Obama, and countless news stories of people taking stands against racism and bigotry across this country should say to the American church is that the American people are tired of the human vs. human mentality. They are tired of competing. Tired of separating themselves into clusters of value that sneer at each other. America is ready to see people with value. All people. Sure, as a Christian I can’t co-sign with every expression they’ve made from this desire. But I can acknowledge the need that’s being met in those expressions. And I can begin thinking about how to bring Jesus to those desires.
It’s simple. People want to love and be loved. America. Wants to love. And be loved.
This is the core impulse driving intolerance. This is the drive behind homosexual marriage rights. This is the statement being made with the voting card. The next American generation wants to remove every obstacle to love, and these are the best ways they know how. These are the biggest statements they can make. And so often, they are either met with Christian disdain, or indifference.
All I’m saying, Church, is get your head out of the sand. Look around you, and see what the people need. You are the hope God has entrusted for them. You have the only real answer to their needs. Put down your sword and open your ears. You just might learn something. And so might they.
How do you think the church can respond to this new American Era?
Latest posts by Antwuan Malone (see all)
- Courage in the Face of Persecution [sermon] - November 28, 2015
- 3 Strategies For Culture Change - October 28, 2015
- Four Lessons I’ve Learned From Serving In Young Adult Ministry - July 20, 2015