Who gets to declare a cultural debate over?
According to a recent RNS column, late debate participants, critics, and allies to those directly impacted by the issues being debated are the ones who get to declare differences “unbridgeable” and the debate itself a draw.
I find this fascinating, and perhaps you will too.
- “Telling the story of my departure from American evangelicalism” (Religion News Service)
- “‘Incommensurable differences’ and the future of the Christian Church’s Sexual Witness (Andrew Walker)
- “Incommensurable Differences?” (Approaching Justice)
If you’ve been reading this site a while, you’ll recognize the term incommensurable. It’s a tough word for a difficult phenomenon and I only really pull it out when God’s other children have exhausted me.
But for me—and for writers like Dwight Welch at Approaching Justice—it isn’t the end of the story; it’s only a Selah in the middle of the psalm.
An active striving and reaching for others follows the recognition that people can live in wildly, vastly different language-worlds and also typically do.
Personally, I don’t have the luxury of packing up shop once I come to the incommensurability insight: I still live in this world with these rules and those norms and all these other people!
And the debates aren’t over because a few commentators are tired of it. On the ground, in the pews, there are vulnerable people following Rilke’s advice and living these questions.
My only sense right now is that it’s those people who’ve earned the right to declare the debate about them finished, and until they do, our allies and critics would best serve us by taking a quiet seat.