Events and environments act on us, and the more we are experiencing God bringing together all the dimensions of our lives, the more we’ll be aware of the powerful effect our surroundings and interactions are having on us.
One quick example involving architecture: You are a phototropic being, drawn to light, for a number of biological and physiological reasons. But you also have legs that get tired if you have to stand for too long. So when you enter a room, you are drawn to the window, but you are also drawn to the chairs. You want light, and you also want to sit down. Which is all fine, unless the chairs are not arranged in front of the window. When that happens, the room draws you to two places at the same time. This creates tension in your being, very real forces within you that are unresolved.
Now think about those contending forces on a larger scale. As modern consciousness built a head of steam over the past few hundred years, very real dynamics such as these were often pushed to the side, because people saw the universe as more and more of a machine, engineered to be productive and efficient. Design and aesthetics and how things look and feel were often relegated to lesser status, rendered irrelevant because they were seen as having very little to do with what can be empirically measured and demonstrated, like profit and cost and productivity and efficiency.
But we are integrated beings, and aesthetics matter. The Bible itself begins with God taking great joy in how things look. Color and layout and feel and landscape and furniture arrangement and shape and form and line and curve all matter, because they affect us in powerful and sublime ways.
At this very moment there is a great deal of energy being spent by nations around the world to make sure that certain other nations do not get the capability to use nuclear weapons. The nation that is leading this charge is the United States, which has enough nuclear weapons to blow the world up several times and that, contrary to all other nations, has actually used nuclear weapons in the past, killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The United States has around 6 percent of the world’s population and possesses a little less than half of the world’s weapons. If there were a group of one hundred people, and six of them had half the guns—well, we would have a serious problem.
We need help.
To read the Bible, then, as a book about those primitive people who had made a mess of things and how God was calling them forward and miss the glaring fact that it’s also a book about us and our desperate need to be rescued and helped and brought forward into a better future is an epic, historic case of seeing the splinter in someone else’s eye and not the log in our own.
Chivalry Is Not Dead
The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found innocent: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty. During his cross examination of Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked if she was avoiding the idea that her son had done something to cause his own death. During closing arguments, the defense informed the jury that Martin was armed because he weaponized a sidewalk and used it bludgeon to George Zimmerman. During his post-verdict press conference, O’Mara said that were his client black, he would never have been charged. At the defense’s table, and in the precincts far beyond it where donors stepped forward to contribute the funds that underwrote their efforts, there is a sense that George Zimmerman was the victim.
O’Mara’s statement echoed a criticism that began circulating long before Martin and Zimmerman encountered each other. Thousands of black boys die at the hands of other African Americans each year, but the black community, it holds, is concerned only when those deaths are caused by whites. It’s an appealing argument, and widespread, but simplistic and obtuse. It’s a belief most easily held when you’ve not witnessed peace rallies and makeshift memorials, when you’ve turned a blind eye to grassroots organizations like the Interrupters in Chicago working valiantly to stem the tide of violence in the city. It is the thinking of people who’ve never wondered why African Americans disproportionately support strict gun control legislation. The added quotient of outrage in cases like this one stems not from the belief that a white murderer is somehow worse than a black one, but from the knowledge that race determines whether fear, history, and public sentiment offer that killer a usable alibi.