“Well, I never thought about that …”
I had that reaction a couple of times last week. One came when I was listening to an interview with a WNBA player on NPR. I was inwardly cheering the reporter who was railing against pay inequality between male and female professional basketball players. As the father of two young women who recently entered the workplace, I am concerned about pay equality, and not ONLY because I hope they don’t have to move back in with me …
What surprised me in the interview, though, was when the player disagreed with the reporter. She explained that the WNBA was only about 22 years old and the men’s league was more than 60. She added that, if we went back and looked at the men’s salaries 40 years ago, we would discover that the disparity isn’t really all that great. Hmm … Now, I don’t know that this argument is completely congruent, but I had to admit it was something I’d never thought of in my liberal fundamentalism.
Last week I was talking to a member of my church who was very anxious about me leaving and who their new pastor will be. She was adamant that my messages of justice and equality are the only reason she risked trusting Christianity again. Trying to ease her anxiety, I suggested that it was possible that the next pastor would be a woman or a person of color. I was shocked when this progressive woman said, “I hope not.”
Seeing the shocked look on my face, she explained, “When I bring friends to church, what impresses them most is that an older, white man in clergy robes is fighting so passionately for justice. They’d expect a woman to insist that the service use inclusive language, for example, but it means so much more when it is a man fighting for it.”
Again, I’m not sure that argument is completely congruent, but she left me saying, “I hadn’t thought of that …” All of this was a good reminder that progressive and liberal people like me can fall into a politically correct fundamentalism that fails to examine our presumptions. Even if we don’t agree with other people, it is healthy if we can at least listen, cock our heads, and see things in a different light. Perhaps this is what God meant in the Bible when She said, “Behold I make all things new.”
Rev. Michael Piazza