August. Hot and humid. The so-called “dog days” of summer. Amazingly enough, within a few short days, it will be time for children and young people to go back to school (and some have already started!). Because of that, we are launching the program year – PresFest, Rally Day, the return to two Sunday services, and launching youth groups and children’s choirs – earlier than
But looked at from another perspective, it’s still summer. Many of you will be watching the Olympics, but for some of us die-hard fans, August and September are the crucial final months of the regular season of major league baseball. Fans of the Chicago Cubs across the nation are holding our collective breath: we haven’t won the World Series since 1908, but really – this could be the year!!
Baseball purists lament the innovation of the “instant replay,” but in those close plays on the bases, it seems only fair to look at the play from as many angles as possible. In calling balls and strikes, however, the umpire still reigns supreme. You probably know the old joke about the three umpires who are having a beer after the game and discussing their under-appreciated and often-criticized work. The first umpire says, “I call ‘em like I see ‘em.” The second umpire says, “I call ‘em like they are.” The third umpire says, “They ain’t nothing till I call ‘em.” Which is, of course, precisely true in baseball.
As science itself has taught us, there are relatively few matters in which it can be said that something is “objectively true.” In much of life, a great deal depends on the point of view of the one making a judgment. There are things that can be measured against objective standards, but in much of life, the decisions we make are shaped by our vantage point – the angle of vision from which we view a problem, a social issue, or even moral choice. For example, you might ask: is there too much regulation in the automobile industry? The answer may depend on whether you or someone you love has been injured by a faulty airbag.
There is nothing wrong with seeing something from your own point of view. In fact, it is inevitable. The challenge comes when we think that ours is the only rational or legitimate perspective. Race relations is back on our city and nation’s collective agenda. One of the challenges for white Americans is to understand how basic institutions – such as schools and law enforcement – look different to you if you are not white.
As people of faith, one of our goals is to attempt to look at ourselves, others and the society around us through the lens of Christian faith and commitment. That lens is shaped by the story of Jesus – the one who gave his life and love for us and for the world – and by the twin commands to love God and neighbor. One of our goals as Christians should be to become aware of our own point of view and expand our range of vision to look at the world from someone else’s vantage point. Then, as we come to conclusions about difficult issues, our question should be: how do we most fully love God with our whole being and our neighbors as ourselves?
Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor