Posted by: Daniel Katyl | October 27, 2009

Who is the love forgetting?

“Open Minds are Sexy”: This is a slogan the Christian Association tries to live by; we even put the phrase on pins to hand out to people who visit the CA house. I believe we try to live this out as well as we can, and attempt to share this philosophy with others. We accept other faiths and practices, lifestyles, and personal preferences. We want to show love to all groups and people, no exceptions. Trying to live this out myself, I feel I have done a good job portraying this message throughout my life as well, with one exception. I struggle with being open and accepting to people that are anything but open and accepting.

I guess if there is one type of people to not be open to, it would have to be the people refusing to accept others’ life choices, but is that going too far? Are we not still then guilty of closed-mindedness if we reject the closed-minded? The truth is, having an open mind and an open heart means to accept all even if people cannot do it themselves.

Personally, I feel that I grew up in what I would call a “bubble area.” These are towns and areas that are almost completely self-contained, meaning that the people living there rarely leave their home area and at the same time rarely get visitors. When the people in these bubbles leave their bubble, it is generally to vacation to or visit an area where they will still feel safe and in their comfort zone, where their beliefs and ideals will not be overtly challenged by the people they interact with. The glue that holds these bubble areas together is the desire to be comfortable. The consequence of this is that a disconnect develops from those in the bubble to those out of the bubble.

This is particularly true of those born and raised in these areas that stay in them after childhood. They know only what is presented to them in that isolated environment and essentially become a product of it. Case in point, youth who live in a bubble that is predominantly Republican, whose parents and church are Republican, generally will be Republican (and the same for liberals’ bubbles as well.) On a more controversial issue, many raised to believe that homosexuality is wrong and unnatural will continue to believe that into their adulthood.

So where are these bubble areas? The past few years I felt that small conservative hometowns like the one I grew up in were the bubble areas, where the religious right is the majority and things are viewed very black and white. As I attended Eastern University and Palmer Seminary, I began to stretch and grow away from that old bubble and the beliefs I was raised to believe. Slowly but surely, with the more I learned, debated, and questioned, almost seven years of struggling with finding my own personal views, I have changed from a strict pro-life, Christianity is the only way to God, anti-homosexuality, anti-evolution, boy who only knew to interpret the Bible literally and thought God’s love was conditional… to a somewhat more mature boy who believes in reproductive freedom, supports LGBTQ lifestyles as well as gay and lesbian clergy, who believes God’s love is for all people in the cosmos, and who cannot even remember what taking the Bible literally means.

I say all that to show that I have continually failed to accept everyone, particularly the people of the childhood bubble. I have continually rejected them because they rejected others, and then act better than them because of it. And I know I am not the only one guilty of this, we all continually reject those we disagree with. So what is the solution to all of this? How to we learn to love those that are not accepting those we feel called to accept?

One answer I have is we need to admit that every area has the ability to be a bubble area. When I left my home bubble, I went and joined the Eastern bubble, just as those attending UPenn, Drexel, or any other college in the city have entered a bubble. After I left that bubble, Palmer Seminary and wherever I was living became my bubble.  They became my new comfort zones.  The more we stay in a comfort zone, the more we conform to it, and this is inevitable. But the more we realize this, the more grace we have for those we disagree with.

Think about this in your own light, in your own context. How has your current area of living influenced and changed you?  We need to be more aware of how we fall into our own environment and allow people to fall into their own as well.  We cannot expect people to be more tolerant simply by telling them. Instead, we need to love people for where they are and to hope that they can continually grow in love as well.

People do not change simply by words, they change by experiencing love in ways they did not expect.  So who are the people who aren’t expecting your love?

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Responses

  1. So true, so true. Now the issue is to get serious about this ‘loving thy neighbor’ idea!


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