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Post-Zimmerman Verdict: An Emerging America


The “not guilty” verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial for killing Trayvon Martin threw back the superficial curtains of polite society to reveal the stark polarization of two Americas.  In his blog post entitled, Trayvon and George:  A Tale of Two Americas, activist and author Brian McLaren doesn’t dispute the American legal system’s decision; but, he is in no way satisfied with the outcome.

The legal system is designed to assign guilt when it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; but, it cannot bring about holistic justice which “works for the life, liberty, and well-being of all.”  Indeed, given the deep polarizations that this tragedy has revealed, justice for all was never a possibility.

But, is the long moral arc of the universe bending toward justice?  Are there political bodies, organizations, or even churches where this future possibility of holistic, inclusive justice meets current reality?  Or, do the icy divisions between black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative which polarize these communities hopelessly block the Kingdom of God?

McLaren ignites a warming ray of hope for America.  Whether observed reality or an impossible ideal, his description of both Americas coming together is a third way worth pursuing.  He describes an Emerging America that “wants to bring people of all races, religions, regions, parties, and classes together in a common pursuit: a nation and world where there is equal liberty and justice for all.” 

This Emerging America is disgusted with divisive political parties and politicized religious organizations which use fear and wedge issues to galvanize their base, win elections, and maintain profits at the cost of polarizing communities and churches. 

Even the Seventh-day Adventist church is not a pristine city on a hill when it comes to these issues.  Every division in society continues unchecked straight through Adventist communities.  The increasing divide between liberals and conservatives in particular is evidenced by the contentious debates on this website.  How can we sing about our hope in the coming of the Lord when our divisive spirit denies the present reality of the Kingdom of God?

Could McLaren also re-ignite our Adventist hope?  Join us in Chattanooga, TN on September 6-8, 2013 to find out.  Brian McLaren will be a keynote speaker for the upcoming annual Adventist Forum Conference entitled A Third Way:  Beyond the Conservative/Liberal Divide to a Christian Identity Refreshed by Interfaith Dialogue.  McLaren will help us seek authentic faith which honors our core beliefs and practices while learning humility through loving inclusiveness toward others.

The Emerging America Mclaren describes “owns both Trayvon and George as their beloved sons.”  In the same way, Emerging Adventism is heartbroken over the division in our church.  “But,” as McLaren writes, “we will not let our hearts break apart in sharp and dangerous shards of resentment and shrapnel of fear.  With God’s help, we will let the pain of love break our hearts open in renewed hunger and thirst for true justice and peace. . . for all people, equal and indivisible.”

Brenton Reading writes from Shawnee, KS, a suburb of Kansas City, MO.  He is one of the co-chairs of the planning committee for the 2013 Adventist Forum Conference and feels a deep sense of gratitude that Brian McLaren and other outstanding presenters will join us this year to help us explore the topic of Christian identity and interfaith relations.

Read Keith Augustus Burton on Trayvon Martin and the Adventist Imperative posted last April.

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