Keeping up with the Phoneses
Cultural messages that I thought were harmless growing up, I now realize were problematic all along. Blessed are those who manage to get it all right! I am working to do better.
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
– Psalm 119:2, 4-5 (NIV)
Progress is great. One of my favorite things about being born in 1982 is that I’m old enough to realize how great it is that my phone is basically the Marauders Map crossed with a magic talking encyclopedia.
Progress is not just technological, either. Culture makes progress too, with outmoded ways of thinking and talking and behaving constantly being highlighted. Cultural messages that I thought were harmless growing up, I now realize were problematic all along.
I double-check beloved childhood movies to see if there are songs that I wouldn’t want my daughter singing in the grocery store (looking at you, Aristocats). “Cowboys and Indians”—definitely out. Using my pronouns when I introduce myself at conferences—definitely in. The Manel (all male panel)—definitely out. Using the most up-to-date acronym when describing what being Open and Affirming means—definitely in.
Blessed are those who manage to get it all right! Heaven knows that’s not me.
Or as the psalmist puts it: “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!”
On my good days, I try to live out the psalmist’s words. On my good days, I am working to be steadfast in making progress. I am working to be more inclusive, more respectful, more humble, more curious. On my good days, when I make a mistake and get called on it, I learn my lesson and do better.
God of progress and change and growth, help me make today one of my good days.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.