We are afraid of conflict, and while Res Publica is not solely responsible for this, they surely encourage it. We are too afraid to engage in the extremes of politics. We fear these conversations because of the scars “Excalibur” left on our campus and that Res Publica keeps scratching.
This is what frustrates me most about Res Publica.
To clarify, I do not deny the right for the website to exist, but I do challenge their methods. The tag line on their website, “The conservative voice you are free to ignore,” immediately creates an us vs. them mentality that places the authors at a distance from any student that does not fall within the mold of the traditional evangelical Taylor community member.
This point is brought up in “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt as a major deficit in modern humanity’s inability to engage each other in conversation. It seems that this trait is not only a problem for the snowflake generation, but previous generations as well. This clear divide they have made between what is Christian and what is not puts us at odds, which is unhealthy.
“The Taylor community is hurting, and I see it in the eyes of many of our students and faculty every day,” Professor of Sociology Michael Jessup said. “Navigating through the icy waters of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, ethnocentrism and nationalism is numbing, painful and dangerous. We need healing — a safe place to bandage our wounds and thaw our hardened hearts. What we need is more loving, listening, forgiving and embracing. We need Christians committed to grace, beauty, justice and creativity, not antipathy, disdain, pulsating anger and fear. Unfortunately, Res Publica is impeding our ability to find new ways to love, serve, engage and evangelize.”
Jessup is not alone in these thoughts. The campus is in need of wrestling through these big ideas, but navigating is not productive when the majority conservative population at Taylor calls out its opposition as illegitimate. And if we strive to make an intentional community then we cannot stand to have groups on campus limit space for reconciliation. Even when I went searching for quotes, I found professors on both sides silent because they did not want to be involved in the controversial hurt that permeates Res Publica’s website.
Along those lines, Res Publica tends to exclude the voices of minorities, namely those who are not white, evangelical or part of the LGBTQIA community. Not only because the published writers of Res Publica do not affiliate with any one of these vital campus minorities, but the articles tend to discourage minority voices from contributing.
In light of these thoughts, I have two calls to action. One I will direct to the writers of Res Publica and the other to the student body and other staff and faculty on campus.
To the writers of Res Publica, please do not stop writing, but be sure you know the real people on campus your words affect. Your audience is not homogenous, why? Because God’s kingdom is global and should be addressed accordingly. Revelation 7: 9-10 reads, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” And while the people do come together to praise Christ’s name in unison, their cultural origins are important. The diverse nations and tongues reflect many points of view that get at the core of who God is.
I’d recommend trying to reach out to students and faculty that differ from you. It is easier to sit on views and not challenge them. Get a fresh perspective. I, for one, would love to communicate with you. Healthy and productive conversation happens when there are two sides that elevate each other and I’m sure that if Res Publica writers recognized and valued the ideologies of minority groups on campus, and the rest of campus spoke up about their beliefs and convictions, we would see immediate healing.
We are in this together, and although we disagree, it is important that we talk to one another and build each other up. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss further.
To the rest of Taylor’s community, dive in. Do not let past events keep you from speaking your mind. Do not let the fear of conflict keep you from engaging. Navigating these topics is tough, but necessary. Let’s struggle together and bring our burdens together so that we flourish and not remain stagnant in tension with one another. We have allowed a space to be filled by just one dominant group with no counterweight, but I know that there are so many voices that exist here that have so much to say. So speak.