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Viewing Ourselves as One Family


Father Dave and Brett discuss the need to view each other as one family in light of the current civil unrest and racial injustices we see in our country.

Brett draws a comparison between the recent SpaceX launch and the civil unrest our country is experiencing. “They happened to launch right around the same time that these protests started to intensify. And I remember seeing a documentary called “The Overview Effect.” The concept of the overview effect is that they interview astronauts when they come back about their perspectives and what they were thinking up in space. Almost all of them come back with an overview effect; they have this very rare and unique perspective to be able to see the earth from space … They all say that you see this floating blue dot with what is less than a paper thin atmosphere around it and you see it as this one ball with one family on it. And they almost always describe it in that way.”

“I thought, now we’ve got these protests and riots and so much division in this country. And this overview effect gives the exact opposite perspective. How would we treat each other if we really understood the world as one family? Would you want someone that you were related to, whether or not it’s in your immediate family, to have a knee on their neck until they died nine minutes later? You can’t. You couldn’t fathom it. It’s very hard for us to picture us as one family, right?”

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Father Dave responds, “There can be a sense of ‘other.’ It’s endemic in the human condition. We would certainly say, from a Christian point of view, because of original sin that Adam and Eve didn’t consider themselves the other, or that they were better than the people of a different color in the other part of the garden, but that any way in which we consider ourselves distinct, not even better or worse, but just the other … If you listen to Mary’s prayer called the Magnificat, it’s her prayer of praise after discovering from the angel Gabriel that she will give birth to the son of God. Many elements of that prayer are what Scripture scholars term “reversal of fortunes.” So the poor will be raised up, but the rich will be made low. Now, that sounds great if you’re poor. That sounds like something I would lobby against or make sure doesn’t happen if I’m rich. Whether it’s monetary with money in the bank, or whether it’s positions of power, whatever you want. That prayer goes through several of them, that somehow when God’s justice happens, it’s not just that everybody comes up to the same plane. It is a topsy turvy. No wonder why people in power down through the ages have tried to prevent that from happening.”

“That’s largely why, down through the ages of faith, Christianity and other religions have been typically more embraced by those who have less, and therefore have room for God and would benefit from these things. That’s not to say that very generous people who support the Church and support our ministries are not people of faith. But if you look at the big swaths and the ways in which we have to deal with our faith differently, or be challenged in different ways, there should be a comforting of the afflicted and affliction of the comfortable.”

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“Let’s be honest with ourselves. If you’re somewhat comfortable, you’re going to nod your head and go, ‘Of course that should happen,’ but you really don’t want that. I don’t want to be afflicted. And I’m saying that as me, Dave Dwyer, a white male who lives in Midtown Manhattan … If we’re really digging into the Gospels and the message of God, he’s saying, we’ve got to embrace the whole picture. It’s not fair for only part of the population to always feel afflicted. The balance needs to be closer to the middle. We’re all one. And if we genuinely thought of it like that, it would matter less that next month I get the less good side of the dorm room, if we really looked at it as our room.”

“Particularly here in America, this idea of my personal rights, my body, my rights, I can do whatever. That’s not Christianity. Where does Jesus say that? Show me. Show me where Jesus says, ‘Protect yourselves and just do what’s good for you.’ It’s never about that. It’s not even about that in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is a covenant with Heaven, right? No, it’s a people. It’s the people of God … We fool ourselves into thinking that these things go together when I don’t think they do. Again, I can say this while still admitting I like to have my own things. I like to walk through life not looking over my shoulder and worrying if I’m going to get arrested. But when we start kind thinking all of this is okay from a Christian perspective, that’s wrong. The Christian perspective says what Mary said, which is the lowly will be brought up and the rich will be brought down. You can’t just eliminate part of that and go, ‘This is my right. And I want to secure my future. I want to have my fortune.’ None of that … I think that’s particularly important to say now and loudly because even Christianity seems exclusionary to some people.”