A Letter to A&E

I took a minute after work today to hastily write a letter to A&E in the wake of the Duck Dynasty stuff. It may not be what you expect… Instead of writing an ‘Open Letter’ to share with the masses but not directly with anyone, I sent a literal email to A&E and this is the text of said email.

Dear A&E representative receiving this email,

I realize you’re probably sifting through pages and pages of angry emails. I’m sure there will be physical letters arriving today or tomorrow. There are so many, I imagine this may not even be read by a human.
Some letters will have merit. They will be straight up feedback, clear in content and gentle in tone. I’m sorry those will probably be a small minority among the feedback you receive.

I’m sure many will be angry, even threatening letters. I’m sure there will be a lot of “That’s what’s wrong with this country.”  Some will invoke God’s judgement, others will personally assault your character. I’m sure I can’t even imagine the flood of vitriol coming your way.

And I want to say to you-  I’m sorry. To you, the individual reading this, I’m sorry. Having worked in several roles requiring customer service, I know it’s not supposed to be personal, but you can’t take in that much negativity without it affecting you somewhat (I’ve gotten pretty bummed just scrolling through facebook and reading the stuff). I hope by having someone speak through that with a little understanding, your day might be brightened a little. Bottom line is, you’re a person of unlimited value in God’s eyes and we need to be reminded of that every day because nearly every other voice around us tells us the opposite.

I’m also sorry that you’re getting a one-sided message from Christians. Sure, some people are just angry and it has nothing to do with religion, but I bet the most angry people call themselves Christians. Regardless of your faith, it must be hard to take that in and then consider claims that God is loving and all the other stuff we say about him. You’re getting shrapnel from culture wars that have gone on too long. I could say a lot about Constantine and Pat Robertson (no relation to Phil?) and the centuries of privilege in between but I’ll spare you the details. Long story short, Christianity as the cultural norm is on its way out and this scares people. Scared people either shrink back or lash out. You’re hearing the ones lashing out.

I have my personal thoughts about the decision but since it’s such a minor issue, I don’t think they’re all that important. Sadly, a lot of people will spend more time worrying about this than the hundreds dead today by actual religious persecution in Nigeria. We lack perspective and compassion, as I imagine you’re experiencing. For that, I say again, I’m sorry.

I hope your holiday of choice brings some joy and light so you can spread it to others and reverse some of this craziness. May God bless you.
Grace & Peace,
Lucas Allen

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An Open Letter to, well, Everyone

Dear Fellow Earthlings,
We live on an amazing planet in an astonishing universe. We live in fascinating, rapidly-evolving times. With the passage of time, we are able to see further into both the known universe and the intricate, intimate details of atoms and cells. We can move from one end of the planet to another in less than a day’s time. An average person can communicate instantly to almost any location and see in real time what’s happening somewhere else; even on a space station. We are able to see and explore with unprecedented ability. Yet one thing we cannot discern: the human heart. Not the organ in our chests, but the place where intellect, will and emotion meet and become one.
It is this place that I’m concerned with today. Despite all of these advances, we still have difficulty reconciling all the information we take in. So instead of taking a posture of humility with all that is presented to us, we begin to draw caricatures that safely guard us from those things that cause tension in our understanding. This would be fine if we were dealing only with facts and figures, but most often, these areas of tension involve real people- people who have different backgrounds, beliefs and come to different conclusions than we do on the same issue. “Polarization” is the word that best describes what I see in our discussion of nearly any topic, be it politics, economy, social issues, religion, science, sports, entertainment or any other idea that can be spoken of. We cast people of differing views to an extreme pole; positive or negative, north or south. When we do that, they become more or less the enemy.
It’s much easier to push someone off to a pole than it is to engage in honest dialog. It’s only natural to seek to be understood. It takes desire and effort to seek understanding. Add to this the technology with which we can spread not only our thoughts about an issue, but attacks on the individuals who don’t agree with us and you get a society that’s divided and at war with one another. Most of us would claim to be peace-desiring people, but no matter where you land on an issue, it’s “peace on my terms- and if you don’t agree with me, I’ll disregard acting peaceably toward you.” So here we stand: eye for eye and facebook status for facebook status.
I have friends on nearly every side of every debate that’s out there. I don’t see the caricatures that are blasted at me. I see Atheists who have a deep reverence for life and creation. I see gay people who are committed to one another, many for life. I see Christians who embrace people that have been rejected by society. I see republicans who care for the poor and give generously of themselves to help. I see homeless people trying to get a job and get on with life. I don’t know these people who are broadcast onto my screen and painted with broad strokes. I know individuals- each one unique; each one of equal value. Please don’t forget that each issue consists of people; and make peace by walking forward with care and openness.
I am not trying to say you shouldn’t have views that you cling to; I have many strongly-held beliefs and convictions. I like to discuss, listen and sometimes even argue about them. But we can argue without fighting. We can disagree without demeaning. At least I hope we can. It’s not up to governments and institutions to fix the state of things. It takes individuals. If we want to see real change and progress in this world, we must change the tone of our conversation. It doesn’t matter who hit first- stop hitting each other!
So to all my friends: let’s commit to doing better. Let’s treat others the way we want to be treated. Let’s wage peace and learn how to talk face-to-face instead of throwing stones from a distance. Let’s beat our swords into plowshares and begin to till the soil of understanding. For God’s sake, or humanity’s sake, or whatever it takes to help us change our ways- let’s do better.
Sincerely,
Lucas Allen
PS- To my Christian brothers and sisters: We should be leading the way in this. I don’t know how we got hijacked into taking offense at everything that happens around us and demanding the rest of the world live up to our standards, but I don’t see that in the life of Jesus or the early church. If I began citing scriptural references to illustrate how we’re supposed to treat others, interact with the world around us, honor authorities, etc. it would fill another page at least. I at least know I don’t see any verses that say it’s a holy thing to be a jerk. Simply put: Love your neighbor as yourself.

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