Monday, January 30, 2017

A Tough Day for Trin

Almost exactly three years ago I heard Mark Charles, a Christian Native American activist, and author, speak on race and missions at the Calvin Worship Symposium and it changed my life.

Today, I, as well as many other members of the Trinity community, got to hear him speak on trauma, race and America and what we as Christians should do.  This lecture was very provocative and has caused a lot of controversy on campus in the few hours after it was delivered.  Many have taken his informative rhetoric and said it is hate speech against white people.  Mr. Charles did inject personal opinions, but the majority of the lecture (which can be watched here) was a fact backed breakdown of Church and American history.  I, as a white male, should be the most offended.  I, however, am not offended by what he said, in fact, I am inspired.

What I am offended and saddened by is the fact that our campus moved to divisiveness quicker than we moved to unity.  This applies to both sides of the ideology coin, myself included.  We took information that was portrayed to us in a peaceful way and injected our own personal thoughts and feelings, which is not only disrespectful to Mr. Charles but the art of rhetoric in general (comm major tangent, sorry).

One of Mr. Charles points that stuck out to me the most was when he was speaking on America needing a common memory.  As a diverse country and a diverse campus, we do not all lead the same lives.  My experience at Trinity is different from that of my black friends, my Korean friends, and even my Iowan friends.  We all have different backgrounds.  We all walk in our own shoes.  Mr. Charles gave us his shoes today.  Some took a brisk walk, some ran a marathon, and others threw them out the back door.

We need to practice empathy.  Our thoughts and emotions after this lecture were an opportunity for "common memory," which Charles spoke on being the framework of community. So far, our campus has wasted that opportunity.

Trinity Christian College is an interesting place filled with great people and in my few short months left here, I hope it can become a better place.  A place where we discuss and not argue.  A place where we debate and not yell at each other.  A place where Christ-centered pluralism can thrive.  We all need to start building a "common memory" for Trinity.  This is every student's job.  This is every professor's job.  This is every staff member's job. This starts with legitimately listening, especially to the things we do not want to hear.

I can understand why this rhetoric is very difficult for some and easy for others but it is our job as humans who dwell with each other to look at the world as a whole, not our own personal narrow lenses (I'M SUPER GUILTY OF THIS).

For those who are not a member of the Trinity community, I still encourage you to listen to this lecture and learn from it and see how it can impact the communities you live in.

Keep discussing people...and listen more than you speak.

(A good song for our country)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Josh. I have heard Mark speak a number of times and I know the feeling of guilt that comes with it. I think people need to understand his speech is not directed to an individual but a community. He is not saying, "You person are a racists." He is saying, "Our society is racist." Which begs the question, "Now what are we gonna do about it?" Mark is using strong language to wake people up and make them understand it is a big deal. So if he makes you feel guilty or convicted, he did his job. If he makes you angry, he did his job. If you can't stand the man and think he is a moron and short sited, he did his job, now you need to do your own self work. Hopefully love and charity can continue on Trinity's campus. Being confronted with our privledge is a shocking thing and it needs time to digest. Have patience because God has patience with us.