*Excerpts*, VOLUME 5

C. Christopher Smith – Letters to Me [Excerpt]

C. Christopher Smith - Letters to Me - ExcerptHere is an excerpt from the letter I wrote for this new volume…

Letters to Me: Conversations With a Younger Self.
Dan Schmidt, Editor.

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Other Contributors include: Margot Starbuck, Tamára Lunardo, David Baer, Seth Barnes, Lore Ferguson, Lyla Lindquist, Anita Mathia, Brian McLaren, Penny Nash, Wade Owlett, Kristin Ritzau, Aletheia Schmidt, Therese Schwenkler, Charity Singleton, Shawn Smucker, J. B. Wood, and Eric Sheridan Wyatt.

 

[ Read more about the book on the Slow Church blog… ]

 

 

The Violence of Impatience

Opening Paragraphs of my Letter to my Younger Self

C. Christopher Smith

Dear Chris,

 

I praise God often for the passion for truth and justice that you have. You want to see the shalom of God’s kingdom fully embodied here on earth and have deeply devoted yourself to this work. I am concerned, however, that in your zeal for these true and excellent ends, you have become inattentive to the ways in which you pursue these ends.

 

Perhaps your urgency to see the reconciliation of all things in God’s creation is causing its own sorts of divisions that will eventually need to be reconciled? My hope is that you will not cause new problems in trying to solve old ones. After all, we live in an interconnected creation; the greater the force we exert upon others, even with the noble intent of moving us all forward toward God’s shalom, the greater the pain that the whole creation will have to bear.


I know that you are not a violent person, and indeed that war and other sorts of violence grieve you immensely, but I worry that your formation by the powers of the Western world has blinded you to the violence thatis borne of impatience. Western culture in the fast-food era and the age of internet technology is a culture of impatience. We own all kinds of labor-saving devices, from refrigerators that preserve our food to machines that wash and dry our clothes to flushable toilets that magically whisk away our waste.

 

I don’t want to debate that such devices are good, but taken together the cumulative effect of these and other similar devices is that they have ramped up our expectations for speed and created a culture of impatience. Having been formed with this tendency toward impatience, we often are inclined to get angry and take matters into our own hands. There are all sorts of violence that are rooted in our impatience: violence to our own beings as we push ourselves to go faster and faster, violence to other humans as we lash out when they are not doing as we wish, violence toward the creation as a whole as our impatient need for speed demands a massive consumption of electrical or petroleum energy.

 

The sort of violence of impatience, however, that I perceive in you stems from a desire to see others of different perspectives transformed immediately, rather than engaging them personally and entering into the circumstances and sufferings that have forged their perspective. This impatience gradually escalates the tone of our rhetoric; it heightens our rage and moves us further from reconciliation.

.  .  .



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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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