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United we stand


Robin Meyers July 19th, 2007

GREEN MOUNTAIN FALLS, Colo. " I write from a small cabin perched on the shoulder of Pikes Peak where my family goes in July to pull the plug on the "wired life." We have no television set ...

GREEN MOUNTAIN FALLS, Colo. " I write from a small cabin perched on the shoulder of Pikes Peak where my family goes in July to pull the plug on the "wired life." We have no television set (and don't miss it), no Internet access (and only occasionally miss it), and no urgent business other than that most underrated of all human activities: reflection.

 

If one truly "vacates" on vacation, this blessed parenthesis can provide moments of luminescence. Just the other day, I sat and watched an eagle spiral upward on a rising current of mountain air for 10 minutes without once flapping its wings. In the morning there is coffee, in the evening a glass of wine " and a wife of 31 years to share them with. The bean and the grape and the bed. This is life.

 

In such moments of detachment, my thoughts always turn to what afflicts us, and what might heal us. I am convinced that our society is now addicted to a cultural polemic that doesn't exist, even as it yearns for a spiritual consensus that would put FOX News out of business.

 

The talking heads tell us that we are more "divided than ever," and that we are about to fly apart like deranged parties in a nasty divorce. Red state vs. blue state and the winner gets the condo and a year's supply of Botox.

I see exactly the opposite happening. In everyday conversations, in the coffee shop, at the university, on the golf course, I hear the same thing again and again. There is an enormous frustration with false dichotomies, with the idea that citizens are just consumers, and that conversation is just another word for confrontation.

 

There are things we disagree about, like abortion and gay marriage. But, guess what? Everyone would like to see the fewest possible number of abortions, and everyone agrees that if there's a biblical model for marriage, it's one man and many women!

 

Seriously, I am beginning to think that the number of things we agree on not only dwarfs our disagreements, but is making them seem like a colossal waste of time " if not a form of denial. Lately, I've been doing an unscientific study of what people believe across the political and theological spectrum, and the results are quite astonishing.

 

For example, I have yet to say that "greed is killing America" and have anyone disagree with me. I have never heard anyone say that the problem with our political system is that money and lobbyists don't exert sufficient influence in Washington, or that we can give up on public education and remain free and prosperous.

 

The vast majority of Americans now fear, more than terrorism, the growing gap between rich and poor, and we know that nothing will slow it, much less reverse it, save bold public policy. Most of us know that the marketplace cannot deliver equitable, or even moral, health care, and that the war in Iraq was an unmitigated and gruesome mistake " regardless of party affiliation.

 

Most of us agree that the family is the basic unit of society, even as we know better than to romanticize it, or to diminish those who live in nontraditional families. As for global warming, only James Inhofe remains unconvinced (or unrepentant).

 

Yeah, even our most divisive force " organized religion " is experiencing a "come to Jesus" moment, as evangelicals are joining liberals in fighting the real demon in America: poverty. Although books by atheists are selling well, in fact a religious revival is brewing in America " one that is marked by grace and compassion instead of judgment and fear.

 

So says the eagle riding the currents of mountain air: Just in time we will come to our senses, and to our simple, better selves. To the bean and the grape and the bed " and the power of love to save us all.

 

Meyers is minister of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City and professor of rhetoric in the philosophy department at Oklahoma CityUniversity. He is at work on a new book, "Raising Yeshua: Christianity as Enlightenment, not Salvation."

 
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