It is fascinating – instructive, humbling – to sit in a Starbucks on Park Avenue and overhear another patron compulsively making call after call on her cell phone. Not one of them sounding important or even interesting, and yet meaningful to her.

Therein the tale. Human diversity isn’t just a concept; it’s a stark reality that “hits us upside the head” every direction we turn. It’s a miracle our human assemblies can function at all. We are so different – and, I suppose, so likely to imagine others as being like us.

Hence the importance of the Faith Q & A entry below.


Q: Going back 2000 years, do you think the Christian church has been a net positive or a net negative for mankind?

A: On its best days, Christianity has been a life saver. It has lifted human spirits from unimaginable depths. It has led ordinary people to make sacrifices on behalf of others that should humble us all. Christianity has spread knowledge, advanced science, nurtured great ideas like freedom, enabled pioneers in every walk of life to cross wildernesses of surpassing difficulty, strengthened marriages, given the spark of compassion to parents — and much more.

Have there been enough of those “best days.” No, not enough. Faith in practice has also done profound damage to the human enterprise. It has turned people into monsters, stirred deep pools of hatred and brutality, promoted ignorance, fought science, led people to enslave others, rewarded cowardice, justified inhumanity — and much more.

People naming themselves Christians have stood by and watched the tragic tale, or tried to exploit depravity for their own ends, or spoken truth to power, or pulled inward, or stepped boldly between warring parties. Christians have done it all.

Net positive, net negative? Hard to say. Humanity clearly is a long way from whole. Christians are among the broken. We have a hard time loving God and often loathe each other. But just when we reach bottom, someone remembers what we are truly about.

In the end, our history doesn’t define us, but our hope for things to come. We are frightened wanderers whose courage to move toward Canaan at all reveals the power of God’s promise.