These are the opening two paragraphs in David Brooks’ recent column in the New York Times. The column is hard hitting and thoughtful and will be incredibly controversial (if anyone will pay attention). But those opening two paragraphs are stunning:
I’ve been traveling around the country for the past few years studying America’s divides — urban/rural, red/blue, rich/poor. There’s been a haunting sensation the whole time that is hard to define. It is that the racial divide doesn’t feel like the other divides. There is a dimension of depth to it that the other divides don’t have. It is more central to the American experience.
One way to capture it is to say that the other divides are born out of separation and inequality, but the racial divide is born out of sin. We don’t talk about sin much in the public square any more. But I don’t think one can grasp the full amplitude of racial injustice without invoking the darkest impulses of human nature.
The rest of the column is HERE.
This may better explain what has been going on in my heart in the past 3-5 years than any other description. We are sidetracked in other “controversies” and arguments. I have also watched other causes try to hitch their wagon to this particular matter… and I’ve watched those other causes get better traction because of it. They’ve gone on to find a lot of success in moving their causes forward… and we’re still struggling with the issue of racism.
This needs to be a stand alone topic and subject. It needs to be faced head on. This has been the fire burning deep in me. It’s a difficult conversation. It’s a difficult journey. I’ve broadened by listening and my reading and I’ve been stretched all along the way. I’ve been uncomfortable. I’ve squirmed. I’ve been tempted to raise my hand and say, “Yeah, but…” over and over… But I’ve tried to stay in a position of listening and learning.
I will never be “there.” I will never fully “get it.” But I want to keep learning and keep helping and keep working toward solutions.
We need more than conversation. We need action. And it starts with repentance over sin.
We just don’t talk about sin anymore. Yet… this is what hangs us up as a culture. In this Lenten season, I pray for my own sin and for the sin of this nation, and the sin of the American Church in this process. God help us all.