I really like artistic experiences that remind me -- and perhaps all of us -- about how we connected we are. Tonight, I saw Paul Haggis' Crash (http://www.crashfilm.com/) which accompolished this very thing. In the opening scene, we see only a shadow of a man's face as he talks about living in L.A. where glass and metal separate people. He reflects that this lack of connection -- this lack of touch -- propels people to crash into each other so that perhaps this is a film about auto safety or road rage. And yet, that's not enough. For a film that dares to critique our social systems (to the glory of God), there are many things that this film could be about of which racism, gun control and sexism would only scratch the surface.
But, what fascinates me is this concept of barriers. What are these barriers? Are they limited to glass and metal? Or do we continue to construct them ourselves from intangible materials? Hate seems to be one of these primary building materials. We build walls to divide ourselves from our fellow humanity from hate. I'm not sure what hate is. Haggis seems to infer that this leads to racial divides. But, I can't get over the fact that so much of this hate stems from ignorance. No, that's not true. Some of it is. The ridiculous statements we make about Blacks, Mexicans and "China-men" are partially ignorant. But, some of it is fear as so much of who we are comes from some deeper, darker fear we dare not name. And still some of it comes from lack of relationship. There is no touch. So, do we crash into each other?
I'm overjoyed to see a filmmaker wrestle with the images of Middle Eastern culture post-9/11. I'm still sick from the violence of this ignorance hatred that has been perpetrated before and after the attacks on the Twin Towers. It's refreshing to not see images of war as the "crash" that causes us to wrestle with our understanding of our fellow humanity. And yet, I wonder how we are touched. Does this require physical contact? Or can one be touched by a child? Obviously, this is possible. And yet, I pray to the dear Lord above that true touch can be found in the young as well as the old. Children bring us wonderful moments of peace but to see a child and be touched while trying to kill her father seems a tad problematic. Can we not be touched by all of God's creation? Does it really take a violent crash -- an accident, a gun shot, a verbal assault, a sexual violation -- to begin to realize that we are all connected?
But, clearly, we don't get it. We just continue to crash into each other. Our Christian narrative is testament to this. We have made so many people into the other -- the ones that didn't get it. We've led crusades and inquisitions to only continue this violent crash proving that we don't get it. And here we are today, fighting more wars, forgetting about injustice in our own towns, and ignoring the plights of many in the Sudan, Indonesia and other far away lands. In her new book Plan B, Anne Lamott quips, Christians "speak in reverent terms of grace, justice, equality, mercy and then we despise people who are also created in God's image, who are Her children, too." Lamott wants us to love George W. -- but tonight, that's just too much for me. Instead, I want to wonder what his cabinet (as clearly they do Bible studies together) makes of Galatians 3:28.
The apostle Paul reminds us that these barriers -- these barriers that we have manged to build of our own hate, fear or ignorance don't actually exist. Instead, we all belong. In a Christian community, we all belong to Jesus Christ. But, this could be broadened. Don't we also all belong to God? Or more importantly, don't we all belong to each other? Not that we are our brother's or sister's keeper -- or at least not in the sense that this passage is typically exegeted -- but instead, we are all responsible for loving each other. Lamott reminds us that we must realize that we are all family. So why not sing along with Sister Sledge? Sing out and proudly. And please, sing with love.