In the wake of Tyre Nichols’ death in Memphis, David M. Bailey, founder of Arrabon, talks with Amy Julia Becker about the long, deep, painful, hopeful work of healing in a world that is often filled instead with quick reactions.
David M. Bailey is the founder and chief vision officer of Arrabon, which “cultivates Christian communities to pursue healing and reconciliation in a racially divided world…For the past 5 years we have successfully partnered with organizations across the country, providing guidance, education and the tools to build more empathetic, reconciled communities.”
- Website: arrabon.com
- Twitter: @davidmbailey
- Instagram: @davidmbailey
- Follow on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter: @wearearrabon
On the Podcast:
- David M. Bailey on the podcast: S5 E15 | To Be Made Well; S5 E4 | What’s So Controversial About Critical Race Theory?; S3 E19 | Loving Our Enemies in a Nation Divided; S3 E1 | Waking Up to Privilege
- Tyre Nichols
- Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
- Jemar Tisby on the podcast: S5 E10 | How Kids Can Fight Racism; S4 E1 | How Do We Fight Racism?; S3 E6 | Now Is the Time for Justice
- Reconciling All Things by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice
- Amy Julia’s book To Be Made Well
- Arrabon courses
- Matthew 6:9-13
- Amy Julia’s video series for Lent
- Amy Julia’s Lenten devotional
Quotes edited for length and clarity:
“I think if we can really be people that think about formation over information, hope over shame, practice over theory, community over individual and being a Reconciling community, and thinking about peacemaking over partisanship. I think [these are] ways that kind of help us to do the long marathon work for transformation.”
“Education, economics and race are just profoundly broken situations—this is true no matter what community that you’re in the United States. [These are] things that we could try to do our best to do a little something. We underestimate what we can do through social media through a conversation or over a year. But what if we said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna try to do this one thing faithfully over the next 10 years to chip away at this?'”
“The scriptures use a lot of metaphor of cultivation because I think both the spiritual life and the reconciling human life of brokenness—it takes time; it takes cultivation; it takes breaking hard ground, watering, sowing and just trying to trust in God to bring the increase versus our mechanistic, production-oriented type of society [where] we expect if we build the right system that things should change immediately.”
“We are really trying to help the American church, Christians in America, to address Racial brokenness in their communities. We oftentimes see that there are these contributing causes that prevent us from being able to address Racial brokenness in really helpful ways. And it tends to be misplaced emphasis…one is an emphasis on shame over hope. A lot of times people who are passionate about issues of race, they use shame as a motivator instead of hope.”
“People form communities and communities form people. So when you’re trying to be a reconciling community, your Christian community ought to be saying, ‘Hey, how do we form people into being a reconciling community?’ So no matter what topic comes up—if it’s race or gender or politics—are we actually engaging in being a practice of being a reconciling community.”
“You can use history to hide when we tell a version of ourselves that downplays the bad stuff and overemphasizes the good stuff. You can use history to hide in that way, or you can use history to heal…history is a tool to say that we are here today because of what happened yesterday. So history can be used as a tool of healing.”
“Our study series really help people to not just know things, but to learn things and then to have conversations with people and have a new imagination for what’s possible in their community…what would it look like for us to covenant to journey together and to grow and do something together?”
Season 6 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my latest book, To Be Made Well, which you can order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day on my website, and a video with closed captions will be available on my YouTube Channel.
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
I think if we can really be people that think about formation over information, hope over shame, practice over theory, community over individual and, and being a Reconciling community and, and, and thinking about peacemaking over partisanship. I think this is ways that kind of help us to, to do the long marathon work for transformation.
Amy Julia (31s):
Hi Friends, I’m Amy Julia Becker and This is, Love is Stronger than Fear A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. Any of you who have been listening to this podcast for a while might remember today’s Guest David Bailey. David is the founder and chief vision officer of Arrabon. And according to their website, Arrabon is a non-profit ministry that cultivates Christian communities to pursue healing and reconciliation in a racially divided world. I’m not gonna get into all the details right here because David and I get to speak about what it means to pursue Healing and reconciliation in a racially divided world.
Amy Julia (1m 11s):
And we’re also gonna talk about that word Cultivate. What does it mean to Cultivate a Christian community and a Healing community? I reached out to David specifically In the wake of Tyre Nichols death in Memphis because I didn’t want to just react to a news story. I also didn’t want to not react to a news story that points to some of the horrible history and present reality that we still have in a racially broken society. And I knew that David might be able to help me think and pray and live and love and hope in the midst of this broken world we live in. And I’m really grateful I did reach out because David is great at pointing me back to the long, deep, painful, and ultimately hopeful work of Healing love in a world that is often filled instead with pain and shame and grief and despair.
Amy Julia (2m 6s):
So I think you’ll really appreciate his wisdom and perspective. I know I did as we talked today. One more note before we get to this week’s episode. The season in the church year, the liturgical year, the season of Lent is coming up in just a few weeks and I wanna let You know I do have a few resources specifically for that season on my website. The first is a devotional guide through Lent, which you can order and just read day by day on your own or in groups. There also are questions for reflection at the end of each week. The second is a Bible discussion series and that will lead you through my book To Be Made Well over the course of eight weeks. So each week includes a short video teaching from me as well as a passage for discussion from the Bible, questions for conversation, and then a five minute daily practice for the following week.
Amy Julia (2m 55s):
You can look at both of these resources at Amy Julia Becker dot com slash resources or just look for a link in the show notes. And now for today’s conversation with David Bailey, I am joined by my friend David Bailey here today. David, thank you so much for joining us again.
David (3m 22s):
Yeah, so glad to be here. Thanks for writing me again.
Amy Julia (3m 26s):
Well, as longtime listeners of this podcast will know you have been here a number of times before. In fact, I think you are my most frequent Guest.
David (3m 34s):
Oh man, that’s a great honor. Alright,
Amy Julia (3m 36s):
Well it’s really fun to always to talk to you. Fun is maybe the right word, or maybe the right word is just, I’m always, it’s not just like information, it’s like I’m always learning things but also deepening and growing. And I’m sure that’s true for people who listen along because our conversations are also some of the most listened to. So I know people listen to what you have to say and pass that along to other people and I’m really grateful for that. So I thought I’d start, some people might remember this, but it’s always good to be refreshed. You’re the founder of Arrabon and I just thought, well, I’ll read a little bit from the website. Arrabon exists to creatively pursue Racial Healing in church communities, but I’d love for you to give us the longer definition, like the longer explanation of just what Arrabon is and the type of work that you do.
David (4m 26s):
Yeah, so like the way we say it is like the problem that we’re trying to solve is the inability of American churches to address Racial brokenness in their communities. And We talk about like people’s communities because like all problems are local. And so like we can’t just deal with Racial, Healing, Racial reconciliation, Racial justice, whatever term you want to use like in the abstract. Yeah. It comes down to like You know your place of worship. It comes down to your place of work, the your kid’s school, your neighborhood, the community organizations that you’re a part of. And so what we endeavor to do is to like work with people of faith to, to say, Hey, how do we break something like this big concept and this big like problem that was centuries in the making and actually get it like really practical to what are some like faithful things that we could do to respond to, to be an agent of changed.
David (5m 20s):
And so You know what we are is we’re a Spiritual formation ministry that equips the American church to actively and creatively pursue Racial Healing in their communities. And so, like I said, we say their communities, like your communities because our problems are local. We see actively because a lot of times people are reactive versus being proactive And. we just believe that Christian communities ought to be proactive and creatively cause we’re oftentimes presented with these false binaries, And. we see whenever Jesus was presented with these like false binaries, he would oftentimes find a third way that was a, a creative kingdom way that would implicate everybody and allow people to love God and love their neighbor better.
David (6m 3s):
And so that’s the kind of work that we doing is that practical as we endeavor and organize ourselves to be, we know all of this happens through Spiritual formation. Like this is a Spiritual challenge that has very practical implications.
Amy Julia (6m 18s):
And I think that’s why I like keep getting drawn back into this conversation with you specifically is because of that framing that a, that this is a work of Spiritual formation, not just a work that is in the Spiritual realm, although there’s a truth to that, but that it’s about the way in which we are formed not just individually, but as a people. And, and then also as you said, like the, the local insisting on talking about communities and talking about local issues. And I’m thinking about the way in which we get news events that have to do with Racial Racial brokenness. And as You know, one of the reasons I reached out is in the wake of the death of Tyree Nichols, which is not a local event for me and obviously for many Americans in the sense that I see this on the news and it’s a horrible story again, of a black man being beaten and dying at the hands of police unjustly.
Amy Julia (7m 14s):
Right? And, and yet, and I feel as though I want to respond in some way, but I also know that this is a reaction on my part and he is far away and his family’s far away. And I can pray for them and I can care, but what, what can it off like at the same time? Something like that, A real visceral example of injustice. I want that to be something that is not simply prompting reactivity in me, right? But that’s actually inviting me into like a deeper understanding and responsiveness to God’s desire for justice in the world and for Healing.
Amy Julia (7m 55s):
So I just wanted to ask you how you, how you think about whether it’s Tyre, Nichols death in particular or kind of these what feels like constant news events that create these reactions? Yeah. How do we, how do we think about that? How do we learn from these things? I don’t know. Respond.
David (8m 15s):
Yeah. Well, I just, I mean, start off by just saying You know it’s a terrible, I mean it’s, it’s a terrible situation. I mean like, I think that’s just one, one thing and, and When, we deal with tragedy. Our brains work to try to make sense of it, to be like, Hey, how the work can this happen? What’s happening? What’s going on? You know. And I think that’s a very human thing for us to do. I remember Deacon Wilson, who was one of the wisest men. I I I, I know he had a drop outta school. He was in eighth grade to, to work on the family farm. But he just, I just had got so much wisdom from him and one of the things he would always tell me, and I remember being in college and just remember how profound he was and he said, David, bad news always travels faster than good news.
David (9m 8s):
And so You know, we You know our news cycles are, it’s, it tends to be bad news. It’s like traveling faster and good news and still can fear and anger because those are the things that they can get this visceral reaction and You know, again, like when you see four or five officers, You know, beat a man to death, You know anger, grief. I mean these are just shame. I mean these are all reasonable human responses, but, but there’s this kind of like this also You know, there’s this kinda like, almost like a shock jock shock information type of way to kind of like mobile mobilize this around these particular issues of race.
David (9m 56s):
And You know, I I would even say particularly as a person who’s like spent, I mean really now like a, a decade and a half You know, just dedicated working on this work. There are issues around policing, but even when you get to the issues of policing, I mean that’s more of a symptom of the problem than the bigger problem itself. Yeah. You know where you look at where these, where these incidences happen. I mean this is part of a, a significantly broken ecology that it is creating. I mean, like you look at the biggest civil rights issue going on right now is public education.
David (10m 37s):
Hmm. Like your, your zip code determines the quality of your opportunities or the unique challenges that you have. Like your zip code determines whether or not you get college recruiters or if you get military recruiters. Yeah. You know and, and This is something we all know. So people, folks like us who have opp options about where we live, we choose a zip code that has a great school. Yeah. And then what about those who can’t choose a zip code that has a great school, even if it’s in the same county or even if it’s the same city, there’s certain, certain zip codes that are better than others. And You know the ones that have a lot of resources continue to have the resources because the education and economics is oftentimes tied to the tax base of the housing.
David (11m 31s):
And so this is like a systemically unjust situation both in urban communities and rural communities. Yeah. And so this You know this is a thing and, and, and poorer neighborhoods tend to be You know, tend to have You know crime and things of that nature that happen within these spaces, particularly like urban, particular urban areas. But then also it’s, it’s true tend to be a be a lot of domestic things that happen in the rural communities. But like, I mean these are just realities that is part of the brokenness of the world that we’re in. And I think it’s important that we don’t only deal with it from like a news headline perspective, right?
David (12m 11s):
Because a new headline, news headline doesn’t articulate the the death of the problem. And I think if we could kind of see like, man, like what’s going on in this situation? And then, I mean then what you do with education then you get with like, I mean what you’re actually in the criminal justice system, you could be poor, like people who are poor get less justice than those who have more money and resources. I mean, that’s not a arguable set of facts, right? And then when you add race on top of that, that compounds to another. So it’s education, economics and race are just profoundly broken situations that this is true no matter what community that you’re in the United States, this is things that You know we could try to do our best to do a little something about that we, we underestimated we can do You know and through social media through a conversation or over a year.
David (13m 7s):
But like what if we said, Hey, I’m gonna try to do this one thing Faithfully over the next 10 years to, to chip away at this. I mean, those are the type of things that we want to like look at. So we’re not just doing that kind of shock jock reaction news cycle, bad news trend.
Amy Julia (13m 21s):
Yeah. I think You know, even from You know as You know, I’ve been thinking and working and on the periphery of this space, I would say for a long time also. And, and even there, I still feel the instinct to react quickly when there’s a news story, even though I have done some of the reading and work to, as you were just saying, like learn about the justice system and the education education system. And I think part of that is because those things still feel so big and overwhelming. And so that immediate news cycle, even though it’s also big and overwhelming, it feels a little more contained too because it’s one thing that happened in one place at one time rather than, oh my gosh, there are millions of kids who are not getting what they deserve when it comes to a classroom setting.
Amy Julia (14m 18s):
Right. So I wonder whether you have any thoughts for people who are just feeling overwhelmed by the problem or kind of distant from it, even if they have some of that like intellectual understanding.
David (14m 35s):
Yeah, You know, it was interesting. I was hosting my friend Jemar Tisby in a city event where we, we read Color Compromise last year. Like every year there’s a pastor in, in Richmond that pastors of church right on Monument Avenue, historically white First Baptist of Richmond. And so we always challenge the city, we do an article in the paper ope piece and then Richmond Times Dispatch and then invite people to read a book in February. And then we’ll discuss the book in either last week of February, first week of March. And we had, we did Color Compromise last year and, and Jamar’s a historian and somebody asked him the question, it says like, Hey, like I just feel like You know 2020.
David (15m 25s):
I was like out doing a protest and doing like all of the things and, and I just feel like I just like lost my zeal. And I just like am not like, what am I doing for You know Racial Healing And, and Jamar really You know from a historic perspective is like if we only judge if progress is happening with kind of Racial justice Healing by protest and, and by like kind of these kind of catalytic events, they will never feel like things are actually moving forward.
David (16m 6s):
You know, I think about NAACP was starting in 1908 and it wasn’t until 19, no, 19, even 19 between 1908 and 1906. And it wasn’t until 1954, they had Brown versus board education like that actually came through. So it was almost, I mean like literally almost like 45, 50 years before I Yeah, so like 1960, it was basically like yeah, almost 45 years before they had a, a significant amount of like, legislation that that changed. Yeah. You think about You know, I mean, folks were working on civil rights issues from the turn of century, but it wasn’t until like the forties cut went when the black officers came back from World War ii and they just said like, Hey, we were respected in Europe, we fought far for our country and they just couldn’t take things laying down like they had to Prego into the war.
David (17m 7s):
Yeah. Which then set up for You know what happened in 54, but then it was really like Emmett Till, which my dad’s generation, he was probably about my, my dad and uncle probably about 7, 8, 9, somewhere around there. And then she and Emmett Till did that then that a few years later set up for the, the Freedom Riders and, and all of those, like, I mean these were young kids. They were like 16, 17, 18, 19 years old when they were doing these sit-ins and, and there’s this like long view Yeah. A way of like really understanding the work that You know has that was needed to be done.
David (17m 49s):
And so here we sit really 50, 60 years from a corrective move, but we deal with a problem that was centuries in the making, right? And so if we could try to have that type of like, understanding of the depth of the problem, then we could also say like, Hey, what if we dedicate ourselves to be particularly like Cultivate, this aspect of the garden and to try to to to, to bring some Healing You know. And and I like to use the metaphor of cultivation versus even the like metaphors of like production. Because a lot of times, like the scriptures use a lot of metaphor of cultivation because I think both the Spiritual life and the kind of Reconciling human life of, of, of, of brokenness, like it takes time, it takes cultivation, it takes like breaking hard ground, watering, sewing and just trying to trust in God to bring the increase versus kind of in our like mechanistic production oriented type of society, we, we, we expect if we build the right system that things should change immediately And, we should get X amount of widgets or the desired results.
David (18m 59s):
And then now like it is kind of internet age, it’s even faster than that, right. Our expectations are even faster than that. But no matter how fast our computers can go, no. How fast AI can happen, humans move at a certain kind of pace that’s really more agrarian when it comes to time is is concerned.
Amy Julia (19m 18s):
Yeah. Gosh, there’s so many things you just said that I wanna respond to. One is just to let listeners know that Jamar is our second favorite Guest on this podcast after you
David (19m 29s):
Oh, that’s, I’m gonna let him know that,
Amy Julia (19m 34s):
But I do have a conversation with him about the color of Compromise and about his other books as well. So, so they sh we’ll put those in the show notes, but I also wanna think about that cultivation versus production, which again, something that I think about a lot is the speed with which our society moves. And I think about this a lot as it pertains to disability in terms of how we try to just be productive, enterprising, You know humans rather than people who are in relationships of compassion and really moving slowly through the world. But I also think about, there’s a book called Reconciling, all Things that you might Know.
Amy Julia (20m 17s):
Oh yeah. Out of the Duke Center for Reconciliation and Yeah,
David (20m 19s):
Yeah, yeah. Chris Bra cocktail. Yeah, I got it right there. Yeah.
Amy Julia (20m 22s):
Yeah. And what I love is at the end of that book, and I’m sure You know this, but for listeners’ sake, like they talk about the, what we want with the work of reconciliation is for it to be quick, global, and innocent when it is actually slow, local and messy. And that’s good. That comes up for me every time again, one of these news events pops up because it seems as though I could have like a quick global innocent response, right? Like, there’s just one right way to see this and to respond and to, and then I’m done, right? Then I can just move on to my like, normal life as opposed to no.
Amy Julia (21m 3s):
Like what, in what ways is your own community hurting or broken that in some ways has been sparked by this shock jock thing that happened in the news that is also horrible and yet you really can’t do anything about that. But what is the local impact? And know that it’s messy, know that you will not respond to it perfectly. Know that there will be days where you are selfish or tired or not paying attention or whatever it is. Or that you say the wrong thing or you do the wrong thing and that it’ll be slow. That it will, I mean, I love what you were just saying about the, the way we need to understand time so differently and there’s a patience to that that’s not the same as apathy.
Amy Julia (21m 46s):
I just, I was talking actually with my daughter about kind of a related thing in terms of the difference between generations and lifetimes that if you think of kind of the longest that a human life can be is about a hundred years. And so we are less than two lifetimes away from the centuries of enslavement. Like that’s not very long and it feels like it’s long ago because we can say, whoa, it was 200 years ago, but it wasn’t even 200 years ago. And You know, and it’s actually only been half a lifetime to your point since we had the You know I have a dream speech in the civil rights movement of the sixties. And so, wow, here we go. So I don’t know, I think that it’s just really important.
Amy Julia (22m 28s):
That’s good to push on that concept of time and remind ourselves that on the one hand that doesn’t invite apathy. Like nothing You know. Things just change so slowly and that’s You know we’re making progress and let’s pat ourselves on the back. but it also can help us to settle into You know that idea of a long obedience in the same direction of just continuing to be faithful in our local communities You know day after day after day.
David (22m 57s):
Yeah. I want, yeah, I mean, just to double click on what you’re saying, I mean Steve Harvey, his grandfather was an enslaved person, You know, and it’s really profound to when you think about that You know Yeah. Like that it’s it’s not that long ago. And then I think some of what, and I even think like, I mean it’s, it’s profound as slavery was we would’ve probably made a ton more progress if we actually like repented from slavery. Hmm. But You know, as Brian Stevenson says, slavery didn’t end. It evolved.
David (23m 36s):
You know. And, and, and really when you think about what happened after slavery was our country was organized so that if I had a black son and You know you have a white daughter, that they wouldn’t grow up next to each other and fall in love, get married and have mixed race children, right? Like that’s, I wish that was like something other than, than than that the case. But, but you think about home ownership, that’s the number one way to build wealth. And, and so You know there’s reason why they’re all white communities and those white, all white communities that stayed historically all white are going to be the wealth of your communities.
David (24m 19s):
There’s reasons why those are going to be more single family homes, You know houses. And then when You know you go to the more blacker or more immigrant communities, they’re gonna have more apartments. They’re gonna be more like not as well kept the streets and things that the city is just not gonna put as much resources the school is gonna be in there. And, and that’s, that’s the answer to wealth, like that’s happened in our country. Right? Right. And, and then this is all post-slavery. And then when it comes to jobs and income, You know our, our, the way our country organized employment policies and ways of going up, really up until kind of 19, it was, it created illegal in 1968, but it didn’t really get into force until the seventies and eighties.
David (25m 10s):
Right. And this, this was about making sure that there weren’t black people that were supervising white people. And so You know that’s where our country was organized around up until literally 30, 40 years ago. Right. Like You know. And those are, and it has a lot of explanation for the way things have engaged. And so that’s one of the things I kinda like about your book, about Healing, right? Like You know, because I I, for us, we really like to like the phrase Racial reconciliation. It’s, it’s like loaded as a lot of interpretation. It could be kind of challenging the word Racial justice sometimes could mean justice without reconciliation.
David (25m 53s):
What we really like to talk about is kind of Healing, like We talk about being a reconciled community, but a reconciled community is working towards like Racial Healing, right? Yeah. And, and engaging the word of Healing because I think Healing includes reconciliation, includes justice and includes the like long work that it’s like you have to do the like therapeutic work or the exercises, the things that happen, and then you gotta allow God to do the work that allows the Healing. But like when You know when you’ve broken a leg or twisted a ankle or disrupted a muscle of some sort, like you just gotta do the physical therapy, right? You have to just do the Yeah. The processes and then like the body is designed to heal itself, but you just gotta do the thing to kind of work with the body, right?
David (26m 38s):
And, and that is true both the body of Christ and just the broader human shared humanity that we have that as, as image bearers that You know if we do the exercises, if we do the work, then God allows us to, for the body, for humans to, to, to engage with the Healing that that needs to take place.
Amy Julia (26m 58s):
Well, and that goes back to the kind of cultivation as well, just in the sense of it taking time that like Healing is even When. we have kind of miraculous examples of immediate what seems like immediate healings in the Bible. So much of what that is is the beginning of a Healing work for Jesus to reintegrate someone into a community. And I think that sense of, if you think about any injury in our body, I mean even just a cut on our skin takes days to actually heal much less something that’s a deeper wound. And of course we’re talking on this kind of psychic and historic level about incredibly deep wounds that really do also, I’ve always thought about like if I were to You know punch someone in the face and split my hand open where I’m the one who’s done the wrong and the offense is against the other person, and yet I’ve also harmed myself in the process.
Amy Julia (27m 57s):
And so there’s Healing that’s needed, You know on both sides, not because I haven’t been in the wrong, but there’s still Healing that has to happen within me in order for me to be restored. And some of that Healing of course is I’m sorry for punching you in the face, right. But some of that is like my hand needs to get better. So Yeah. Yeah, there’s a lot of Healing work and I’d love just what you said in terms of the Healing, including reconciliation and including justice, but being a almost a broader, a broader work that, especially for people who believe in the Healing work of God in our midst, is something that we really can commit ourselves to You know in, in community.
Amy Julia (28m 42s):
I wanted to go back a little bit. I also was just thinking when you were talking about the difference between cultivation and production, about our kind of social media moment and how it is so easy to like reactivity, which is another thing you were talking about to news events, right? Is something that can look very productive. Like I’m, I’m immediately respon reacting really, but I’m saying something, I’m making sure to draw attention to this issue or I’m You know, having the quotation or the caption. And not that those are necessarily bad things. And yet there is that like sense of it can also be a way to avoid the longer work of cultivating relationships, cultivating understanding.
Amy Julia (29m 31s):
One of the things that I, I know I mentioned this to you in a different conversation, but I’ve really been thinking about recently is the difference between, I guess I guess I, so when it comes to issues around Racial brokenness and Racial Healing, I feel sometimes a tension between speaking up and staying silent in order to not center my own voice, right? Like to know that I as like the educated white woman also have a lot to learn. And so I’ve been thinking about the idea of like active listening, of being engaged as a listener rather than simply passively staying silent.
Amy Julia (30m 14s):
that there’s a difference between like passive silence and active listening. Although in both cases it might mean that I’m not saying too much. And I wonder just what, what you would say again to that sense of like, how do we Cultivate responses that are more in that posture of patient’s cultivation longer, broader work rather than reactivity?
David (30m 42s):
Yeah. So You know we talk kinda like Arrabon just about like how we are really trying to help the American church Christians in America to address Racial brokenness in their communities. And, we, we oftentimes, like we see that they’re like these contributing causes that like prevent us from being able to address Racial brokenness in, in really helpful ways. And it tend to be these like misplaced emphasis. Hmm. And so You know one is a emphasis on shame over hope. Like a lot of times people who are people who are like passionate about issues of race, they use shame as a motivator instead of hope.
David (31m 27s):
And, and, and you might get a reaction to people when you use shame as a motivator. But the challenge of it is, is that like, that’s a short term motivation. Like you get a, like if you really want to change people from a deep down inside You know you can say, hey, you can be better and you can do better. Right? Like we, we, we can do this You know, it takes us to be an emphasis on information of formation. Like if You know better than you’ll do better, but that’s not the way that we work, right? Like, so in 2020 the way we responded was to read a bunch of stuff. And I’m not saying that like reading is, is is a bad thing.
David (32m 10s):
I mean I actually think it’s, it’s helpful as being like informed, but to really understand that we’ve been malformed Yeah. Like And, we need to be reformed. We need to be spiritually formed in a way that kind of helps us to be agents of Healing. But to even just to understand how have we been malformed in areas of race and like what does it mean to be white? What does it mean to be black? But it’s not just about the information, but it’s really about like how our formation, what is happening and how can we be image bearers like, and like living to this, this fullness of, of of image bear. But then also creating an atmosphere where other people can bear the image of God and and, and, and, and engage in a really more helpful harmonic way that we ought to be a flourishing way to bring God shalom to the world.
David (32m 56s):
But then there’s emphasis on theory over practice. So you hear like terms like anti-racism or white fragility, You know these are all terms that were created the academy Yeah. These weren’t terms that were created in the context of community and actually trying to do the work. It was like an abstraction trying to think about, okay, what’s going on? How do we do this? We figure this out. And when you actually do things in practice, when your theory actually is in the context of practice, you are able to kind of be a lot more practical in the work that you’re doing. There’s like an emphasis on the individual over the community. And so the question’s like, hey, I’m either like, I’m not being racist or those people are being racist, but we don’t elevate the conversation and realize that like people form communities and communities form people.
David (33m 42s):
So when you’re trying to be a Reconciling community, like your Christian community ought to be saying, Hey, how we, how we form people into being a Reconciling community? So no matter what topic comes up, what if, if if it’s race or gender or, or, or politics. Like we’re actually engaging in being a practice of being a Reconciling community. And then the last was emphasis on partisanship over peacemaking. There’s more political discipleship going on right now than biblical discipleship. And that’s, that’s a huge, huge problem, right? Like we ought to be people that are engaging into some type of like forming where like Jesus says like blessed are the peacemakers for they are the children of God.
David (34m 23s):
And so like being the children of God, child of God, like that’s an identifying marker. And so like if you say like, hey, those are people being peacemakers over there, they must be children of God. Or another way of saying it is these are people that are cultural warriors. We are they really children of God, right?
Amy Julia (34m 43s):
Right. If what they’re known for is the way they fight.
David (34m 47s):
Yes. Yeah. I mean that’s something that we should cause us to pause, right? Yeah. And so, so I think if we can really be people that think about formation over information, hope over shame practice over theory community over individual and, and being a Reconciling community and, and, and thinking about peacemaking over partisanship, I think this is ways to kind of help us to, to do the law marathon work for transformation.
Amy Julia (35m 21s):
I love those. And I will just point people towards your website, which is Arrabon dot com because those are listed on the homepage and I think it’s probably would be helpful to spend time just contemplating all of them. But I wondered if you’d say a little bit more, more on the formation part. Like what does that look like in communities to actually be attending to Spiritual formation over information? Which again, not to say that information is bad, but to really say, but the the deeper emphasis is on the formation of us and of who we are as a community and who we are in that Spiritual sense.
David (36m 2s):
Yeah. So, so for us at Airon, like, I mean like I tell you like a practical thing that we do. So one of the like really practical things that we do is we have like When, we start off a course, we do this thing called disciple for complicated emotions. And when you do any issues of race, class and culture, it brings up emotions of fear, anger, grief, and shame. Like no matter what you’re talking about, no matter where you sit into this scenario, fear, anger, grief and shame are the things that that come up. So what I found is that when people, when communities things tend to fall apart, it happens because they were unable to deal with fear, anger, grief and shame within their, within themselves or how to respond to somebody in a healthy way to engage in a response to kind of help move the conversation along.
David (37m 4s):
Like things tend to fall apart, like when those, those kind of deep visceral res emotions are are happening. And so it’s important that we grow our, both our emotional and our Spiritual bandwidth to be able to do this work. And so we have this course that You know we offer online and in person the community is called disciple Four complicated emotions. And when you could actually like sit into the heart and difficult things Hmm. That actually helps to, to to to to have the emotional Spiritual bandwidth to do the marathon work. It’s like stretching before going on a long distance run. Like if you just take off and start running, you’re going to get a net crap. You’re going to have an injury.
David (37m 45s):
Yeah. And that’s, that’s what happens. Then the second thing we do is a foundation for,
Amy Julia (37m 50s):
Or you’re gonna stop running You know. Yeah. Oh yeah,
David (37m 53s):
Amy Julia (37m 54s):
You might ru stop running because you get hurt or you might just be like, I’m, I can’t do this. I’m, anyway, sorry, go on. Yeah,
David (37m 59s):
No, that’s great. No, I mean that’s exactly what happens, right? And I think a lot of people have stopped running because they haven’t done that stretch You know. Yeah. They haven’t done that work. The second thing is foundations of Reconciling community and We talk about like this, the foundation of of of, of this we, we we, we basically have this image of a house and imagine like at the foundation is reconciliation of Spiritual formation. And so what that means is like, like we love Ruth Haley Barton’s definition that Spiritual formation is the process of being transformed into the image of Christ for the glory of God, the sake of others.
David (38m 45s):
And the abundant life Spiritual formation is a process of being transformative to the image of Christ for the glory of God, for the sake of others and for the abundant life. Hmm. Well, when you just switch out the word Spiritual formation for reconciliation, reconciliation is a process of being transformed into the image of Christ. Yeah. For the glory of God, for the sake of others and for the abundant life. And you think about the, one of the most intimate relationships one can have is the covenant of marriage, right? Like, like there’s a richness that happens when couples work through the process of reconciliation, right? Yeah.
David (39m 25s):
Like, and that is if, if if, if marriage isn’t anything, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s cultivating love through reconciliation. And so like, like, and you out of that Spiritual formation and transformation happens. And so in our communities, if we don’t have that as a basic foundation and then we try to insert something like race, which is this like century or problem, we don’t have the tools to, to really engage in a really like healthy way. So then the second thing is this pillar of cultural intelligence. Like we could just talk past one another kind of similar again back to the like Marva marriage metaphors like family of origin, like ways of doing things that you screw up that just was just normal to you.
David (40m 8s):
Sometimes When, we, we talk past one another. We need to like realize, okay, You know we might be talking past anything. Not because we have, we don’t like the other person or because we’re not committed to crash reconciliation just because we’re just from different cultural context. And, we need to like learn how to find some shared knowledge and language. The the third step or the second pillar is understand historical context. You know we say like you could use history to hurt people. Say, Hey You know because of this, because of your past, you’re never gonna be more than what you’ve been in your past. You can use history to hide When. we kinda like tell a version of ourselves that like downplays the bad stuff and over emphasizes the good stuff.
David (40m 51s):
You can use history to hide in that way or you can use history to heal, right? Like if you go to the doctor say, Hey, what’s your medical history? You go to the therapist, what’s your history? You know when you go to that exercise specialist to lose that, that new year’s resolution weight, they say, Hey, what’s your exercise history? Right? And so history is a, is a tool that you to to, to we here today because what happened yesterday. So history can be used as a tool of Healing. And so it’s important for us to use history as a tool of Healing and then You know we gotta practically work together. Like that’s the third pillar in this house. You work together and you work cross-culturally, right?
David (41m 31s):
And, and that’s where things actually actually get to put the practice. And then When we have like over our roof is creating new culture. We’re here today cuz the culture was made yesterday. If we wanna see something different tomorrow, we gotta create new culture today. And that’s how we move forward. Right? And, and if we can put together a like, like an ecology of reconciliation, Spiritual formation, cultural intelligence, working through like understanding our historical context, working together across culturally and creating a new culture. And, we just do this in our community Faithfully over decades. Hmm. We will see tremendous amount of transformation.
Amy Julia (42m 11s):
And what I’m really struck by back to the concept of Healing and some of the key distinctives you were mentioning earlier is how much individual Healing and community Healing will be hand in hand. That there’s a sense of if and as I think one of the things you originally said was we need to be kind of understanding how to emotionally and spiritually grow. Like that’s part of the work of reconciliation and obviously beginning with discipling these four complicated emotions, right? Like having to learn how to deal with grief and shame and fear and anger. Is that the last one?
David (42m 49s):
Yeah. Fear. Yeah. Go.
Amy Julia (42m 50s):
Yeah. Okay. But there’s a sense in which we need to learn how to do that historically communally but also individually and that that Healing is going to be happening on all of those levels. And I’m, I wanted to ask about that relationship between the individual and the community because we obviously in America live in such an individualistic culture and we’re so shaped informed by the idea of being an independent individual who can take care of ourselves, which is not actually what happens, but it’s how we think about ourselves, And we think we’re supposed to be. And yet it’s certainly not the image from scripture of what it means to be the people of God, what it means to be You know human, what it means to be the body of Christ, any of these things.
Amy Julia (43m 38s):
And even just on a You know less Christian level, the functional way in which we operate as humans is in relationship with one another and in inter relationships of interdependence. So I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts on how we make the move as much in our own minds as in our actual experience, but from individual to community. Like you’ve said, some of it obviously the working together, but are there any other things you would add as far as making that shift?
David (44m 8s):
Yeah, I mean like, so like, I mean at Airine, like everything that we do and everything that we create is to do it with people You know, part of You know Angel You. know You know I’ve talked about me writing a book and I’ve been working on writing a book and and been writing chapters. But I’ve been hesitant to do that until there were these like communal resources that we’ve been creating. I’ve spent energy over the last You know 15 years and really trying to create these communal learning experiences, these communal exercises to, to be able to help people to have imagination with their community.
David (44m 50s):
So one of the biggest things that I would You know we encourage people to do is to to do like disciple for complicated emotions together with your community. Yeah. To do the study series together. And all our study series really help people to not just like know things, but to learn things but then to like, and have conversations with people but have a new imagination for what’s possible in their community. Right. And I think that’s one of the biggest things to do because we like You know we click on Amazon, get a book, learn more information, share about what we learned, but not actually like, hey, what would it look like for us to kind of covenant to journey together? Yeah. And to grow and do something together.
Amy Julia (45m 30s):
Yeah. It just makes it a lived experience and commitment as well as your point about just the, what I would call the Spiritual imagination. Like letting us have a hopeful imagination for the future that’s not in denial of the reality of our broken world. And yet continues to ask the spirit collectively to give us a sense of where we could be headed if we actually are pursuing that work of reconciliation and of justice and of Healing, all those things. Kind of the last thing I wanna ask along those lines is around the concept of repentance. And I’ve remember in relatively recent years praying the Lord’s prayer and just kind of thinking about for the first time what it means to pray.
Amy Julia (46m 16s):
Forgive us our trespasses or forgive us our debts. So yes, I’m certainly praying for the personal sins that I’ve committed, but like Jesus is instructing us to pray for forgiveness for our collective debts and trespasses. And so there’s a way in which other people who are kind of praying the same things are praying with me on behalf of, in the places where I am guilty and of sinned and vice versa. And I’m just thinking about You know in a couple weeks we’ll head into the season of Lent this time of preparation for Easter where a lot of You know churches might be thinking about repentance and individuals might be thinking about what they’re gonna give up or You know what they’re gonna do personally to observe Lent.
Amy Julia (46m 59s):
But I’m thinking about this idea of like communal and collective repentance. Like what might that look like and also what might it lead towards?
David (47m 10s):
That’s great. Yeah. You know one of the things that would just help us to, there’s a book called Misreading the Scriptures through Westernized. Yes. And, and then misreading the scriptures through individualistic eyes. And it’s just so important to understand that the Bible was one written in an honor shame culture, which means it was like a collective identity culture. Yeah. Like it was in the space that like, I mean so much of the, let me think about the psalm. Cause a lot of times we read the psalm in a very individualistic way and yes, like David May have had some experiences that he wrote, but that was the song book that was like the hymnal of the Nation of Israel.
David (47m 53s):
Like You know. Like this was a, this is all like a communal practice of which the, the good bad and the ugly of the psalms was all in there. Yeah. In a communal context. So many of the yous that Paul has in the New Testament are really the southern translation of y’all. Amen. You know. And then when he is really upset with him, all y’all like You know like, and so it’s really important to like understand that when the disciples say, teach us to pray You know this is in a context of Jewish people who would go to the temple for fix our prayers.
David (48m 37s):
You know And that and like had this concept of like this communal identity of of being Jewish people, a minority ethnic group, but also minority religious group in the middle of the empire. Yeah. Trying to say like, Hey, how do we be faithful in the midst of this empire? How do we be strangers on the foreign line even though this is like the land that we we’re here but this land is being occupied and how do we be faithful as a community? But then they’re also dealing with the consequences of being unfaithful as a community. Like Rome wouldn’t have been there if they were faithful as a community.
David (49m 17s):
And I think that’s like as we go into Lynn and as we think about these things in our, our country, like there’s been a lot of like unfaithfulness that has created this mess that we’re in. And so we could say like, Lord, like forgive the our trespasses like as the people of God here in America. Yeah. You know not only for yesterday but all for the things that are happening today. I mean it’s not like it’s not, it is not as bad as it was yesterday but there’s still some messed up stuff going on today. A
Amy Julia (49m 47s):
Whole lot. Yeah. Yeah.
David (49m 49s):
And we can say forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And, we And we can easily see the way that people trusts kept pass against us. Yeah. And how those people over there are doing something to us, but can we see how we and our people are doing things to those people over there. Yeah.
Amy Julia (50m 11s):
Well I have one final question for you and This is just more along the lines of that Spiritual imagination, culture change, You know, cultivating towards a vision of a Reconciling world really. And I’m curious, having been in this work now for You know over a decade and seeing and working with so many different communities, whether there have been times where you really have seen communities experience, I don’t know if transformation is quite the right word in the sense that I know you don’t go from You know black to white, like from white to black, from You. know it’s not just a immediate or even an entire change, but have you seen communities where you’re like, yes.
Amy Julia (50m 54s):
Like the, the work of becoming a Reconciling community is transforming who these people are and what their community looks like?
David (51m 5s):
Yeah. You know, I think about, I mean this last fall there was a church that we were working with up in Chicago and their church plant, Presbyterian church that recently particularized and say I guess they honor church plant anymore. Hmm. But they were really, were working to work against both race and class You know and to, to be a Reconciling community as a church of course it’s really hard work. Somebody invited an organization that does diversity, equity inclusion, d e i work. And, and so You know they came in and, and like those were tools that were like, I mean I think my comment about diversity, equity, inclusion work is partial like work.
David (51m 59s):
Like it’s, it’s, it’s not, it’s not, it’s, I I, how do I say it? Like I think diversity, equity, inclusion should be fruit of Kingdom work and because Christians haven’t been engaging in this type of kingdom work, then secular society has to try to figure out how to, how to get kingdom results with the tools that they have. Yeah. So I’m very hesitant in critiquing it cuz I’m not like, I’m not mad at those folks. Right. I’m just like the church has to show up and kind of do what we have to do. So I, so but then I’m also like, there’s kingdom resources, there’s a richness of resource of how to get your loan in the scriptures that we can kind of like we could, we could model if we would live into it.
David (52m 40s):
But long story short, they use those tools and they kind of blew up a lot of stuff at their church. Caused a lot of harm to both. A lot of white folks reacted to certain ways and they felt kind of beat up. And then the people of color in that community were like upset that they couldn’t see past some of the like shortcomings, but get at some of the like principles that happened. So they were hurt by the way that the white folks reacted and they was just hurt all around and You know, we met up with them and they, that particular church and they reached out to us and they started to go through our, our processes You know as a leadership team.
David (53m 26s):
And it was really great because they began to get eyes to see like around ’em and they started to partner with a church that was like literally down the street of a different denomination, different African ethnic group, their Presbyterian and This is like a charismatic type of Pentecostal Hmm. Church of some sort. They started doing like advent dinners together, You know and looked at other kind of ways they could engage together. There was the worship team, there was a, a situation where you had the two black folks that grew up in like a Pentecostal context and would knew how to like do music through the ear. And there was another person that was like You know highly degreed organist that they were saying the same thing but using different language.
David (54m 13s):
And then they were able to say, and they were getting kind of frustrated and irritated just trying to work together in this deadline. And then somebody like kicked on the air bond training and said, oh, we’re talking past one another. We need to exercise some cultural intelligence. When you say this word, do you mean this and When we say that word, do you mean that? And they’re like, oh yeah, we just did. And they were able to kind of like have a Reconciling moment like in that particular space and the, and the, and the, and the pastor now feels more empowered to lead the congregation in a way that’s more kingdom oriented. And so, so You know. It’s just really great to see, like in Chicago there’s a Christian witness of a folks like endeavoring to be a Reconciling community.
David (54m 57s):
We got plenty of stories, but like I’m just so happy that it’s just one of many that we can share.
Amy Julia (55m 1s):
Well and I love that too because it is yes about the leadership, but also just that very, I don’t know, almost mundane example of like, we’re trying to make music together and we’re coming at it from different backgrounds and so we’re just kind of bumping up against each other and elbowing each other until someone says, hold on, we know how to do this and it doesn’t have to be like this. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. And I hope, I mean I hope that people listening to this podcast will say, I think we might need some of those tools and resources because I know that Arrabon has You know, seen kind of explosive growth in the past couple of years and the, and yet, which on some level was this kind of reactionary growth, right?
Amy Julia (55m 43s):
All these churches who in the wake of George Floyd were like, oh no, we really do need to respond. And yet what you’re offering is not re more reactivity, but actually that longer, broader work that, as you said, there’s a lot in our secular culture right now that is true and good as far as it can go when it comes to some of the d e I work. And yet there is this deeper Spiritual realm of possibility I think for Healing that those of us who are in a position of having a common faith in a god of love and Healing and of sacrificial service and of resurrection hope, like there’s so much more that’s available to us if we will actually go to that place together of learning and of repentance and of, of Reconciling with one another and of, of really trusting that the spirit will actually bring something good and fruitful You know, again, back to your cultivation image of You know whether it’s a tree that grows or a plant that blooms or whatever.
Amy Julia (56m 50s):
I believe that will happen through the work you’re doing and it’s fun to get to learn from it and see it. And yeah, we’re just really grateful for all that you do.
David (56m 58s):
Thank you so much, my sister. Appreciate it. Thanks for the encouraging words.
Amy Julia (57m 3s):
Anytime. Thank you for being here.
David (57m 5s):
Glad to be here.
Amy Julia (57m 8s):
As always, thank you for listening to This episode of Love is Stronger Than Fear. I will say again, the Arrabon website is a great place for more information and even just more thought-provoking materials. So that’s Arrabon A R R A B O n.com. And again, it’ll be in the show notes and I will mention one more time that we do have resources for Lent on my website, Amy Julia Becker dot com slash resources. As You know, the way we find out about podcasts is because people say, Hey, you’ve gotta listen to this. So if this conversation was meaningful to you, if it was helpful to you, would you please just think of a friend or two that you’d like to share it with?
Amy Julia (57m 51s):
You also can of course just go over to the Podcast and give it a rating or a review and you can give me feedback. I’d love to hear from you whether it’s just to say that it was a helpful episode or to suggest other guests or topics that you’d like to see us cover here. I’m also always really thankful for Jake Hanson who edits this podcast and for Amber Beery my social media coordinator. They make everything happen behind the scenes and I am really grateful for that. Finally, as you go into your day today, I hope you will carry with you the peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.
Learn more with Amy Julia:
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