I have become increasingly concerned over the past 10 years over what I have perceived to be an increasing polarization of Americans — an increasing radicalization, a swell of extremism of polar opposites, an unwillingness to listen, an indefatigable commitment to never change, a rise in anger and frustration over feeling powerless to live with and around what one perceives as “right.”
The media seems to accentuate binary choices of either / or: right or left, conservative or liberal, win or lose, etc. In a Machiavellian strategy to win a culture war, words and people are redefined to achieve goals rather than unfurl meaning. I’ve concluded that technology, the great unequalizer, has just made all of this worse: so much distraction and so many deaf ears.
Enter an unlikely character who I think is bright, clever, and onto something significant: Kevin Roose. Kevin took his year abroad study opportunity at Brown University to attend a semester at the late Jerry Falwell*’s Liberty University, which now, to my shock, has over 60,000 students!
Kevin then wrote a book about this experience, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University.
If his book is anything like the video clip below, it is thoughtful and reflective, gently and respectfully probing ways to get people to start listening and finding common ground again. The video is well worth the 20 minutes.
I hope his efforts with the Jonah Project are successful.
*I’ve made no secret on this blog of my loathing of this man.