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Peacemaking in a Polarized World

This podcast is from our November 13th Class, Peacemaking in a Polarized World. This Peacemaking Class is meant to equip you with tangible practices and tools for interpersonal Peacemaking. We invite you to listen and engage with the passages that we highlight in this class.  If you’re interested in our classes offered at Society Church, please check out our 2020 Class Schedule HERE.

Notes from the Class:

  • Inner, Outer and Other Chart (8:40):

  • Image of God Video by The Bible Project (15:00, watch HERE)
  • Why We Tend Towards Polarization (16:05)
  • I/Thou Relationships (27:38)
      • In 1923, the great Jewish theologian Martin Buber wrote a brilliant but difficult to read book, called I and Thou. Buber described the most healthy or mature relationship possible between two human beings as an “I-Thou” relationship. In such a relationship I recognize that I am made in the image of God and so is every other person on the face of the earth. This makes them a “Thou” to me. Because of that reality, every person deserves respect—that is, I treat them with dignity and worth. I do not dehumanize or objectify them. I affirm them as having a unique and separate existence apart from me. See the following circles illustrations:
        Though you are different from me—a “You” or “Thou”—I still respect, love, and value you. Buber argued that in most of our human relationships we lose sight of others as separate from us. We treat people as objects, as an “It” (to use Buber’s word). In the I-It relationship I treat you as a means to an end—as we might use a toothbrush or car. What might that look like? I walk in and dump my work on my secretary without saying hello. I move people around on an organizational chart at a staff meeting as if they were objects or subhuman. I talk about people in authority as if they were subhuman. I treat Geri (Pete Scazzero’s wife) or our children as if they are not in charge of their own freedom, dreams, autonomy; I expect them to be the picture I have of them in my head. I am threatened when someone disagrees with my political views. I listen to my neighbors’ problems and help them with chores around their house hoping they will attend the Christmas outreach at our church. They don’t . . . and I move on to someone else. The result of I-It relationships is that I get frustrated when people don’t fit into my plans. The way I see things is “right.” And if you don’t see it as I do, you are not seeing things the “right” way. You are wrong. Recognizing the uniqueness and separateness of every other person on earth is so pivotal to emotional maturity. We so easily demand that people view the world the way we do. We believe our way is the right way. Augustine defined sin as the state of being “caved in on oneself.” Instead of using our God-given power to orient ourselves to God and other human beings, we focus inward. For this reason when Dante, in his famous Inferno, arrived at the very pit of hell, ice dominated, not fire. The coldness spoke of the death, the inwardness, the coldness of sin. Satan was stuck, frozen in ice, and weeping from all six of his eyes.9 C. S. Lewis described hell in The Great Divorce as a place where each person lives in isolation, millions of miles apart from one another, because they can’t get along.10 
        I-Thou Relationships True relationships, said Buber, can only exist between two people willing to connect across their differences. God fills that in-between space of an I-Thou relationship. God not only can be glimpsed in genuine dialogue but penetrates their in-between space. See the following diagram:

        The central tenet of Buber’s life work was that the I-Thou relationship between persons intimately reflects the I-Thou relationship humans have with God. Genuine relationship with any Thou shows traces of the “eternal Thou.”11 For this reason, when we love someone well as emotional adults, treating them as a Thou, not an It, it is such a powerful experience. When genuine love is released in a relationship.”
      • Reflection Questions:What jumped out to you as meaningful or important in this section?Can you think of specific relationships you tend to view in I/It terms?
  • I/Thou Relationships Group Discussion (29:50)
  • Peacemaking Map Exercise (39:20)
  • The Good Samaritan (48:20)
      • Cultural & Religious Differences between the Jews and Samaritans“Imagine the hatred between Serbs and Muslims in modern Bosnia, the enmity between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland or the feuding between street gangs in Los Angeles or New York, and you have some idea of the feeling and its causes between Jews and Samaritans in the time of Jesus. Both politics and religion were involved.According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible (McGraw Hill) by Louis F. Hartman, feelings of ill will probably went back before the separation of the northern and southern Jewish kingdoms. Even then there was a lack of unity between the tribes of Jacob.After the separation of Judah and Israel in the ninth century, King Omri of the Northern Kingdom bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer (1 Kings 16:24). He built there the city of Samaria which became his capital.It was strong defensively and controlled the valley through which the main road ran between Jerusalem and Galilee. In 722 B.C. the city fell to the Assyrians and became the headquarters of the Assyrian province of Samarina. While many of the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding area of Samaria were led off into captivity, some farmers and others were left behind. They intermarried with new settlers from Mesopotamia and Syria.Though the Samaritans were condemned by the Jews, Hartman says they probably had as much pure Jewish blood as the Jews who later returned from the Babylonian exile.The story of both Israel’s and Samaria’s failures in keeping to the way of Yahweh is partly told in Chapter 17 of the Second Book of Kings. There, too, the sacred author tells how the king of Assyria sent a priest from among the exiles to teach the Samaritans how to worship God after an attack by lions was attributed to their failure to worship the God of the land. Second Kings recounts how worship of Yahweh was mixed with the worship of strange gods.When Cyrus the Great permitted the Jews to return from the Babylonian exile, the Samaritans were ready to welcome them back. The exiles, however, despised the Samaritans as renegades. When the Samaritans wanted to join in rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, their assistance was rejected. You will find this in the Book of Ezra, Chapter Four.With the rejection came political hostility and opposition. The Samaritans tried to undermine the Jews with their Persian rulers and slowed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its temple. Nehemiah tells us (Nehemiah 13:28-29) that a grandson of the high priest, Eliashib, had married a daughter of Sanballat, the governor of the province of Samaria.For defiling the priesthood by marrying a non-Jewish woman, Nehemiah drove Eliashib from Jerusalem–though Sanballat was a worshiper of Yahweh. According to the historian Josephus, Sanballat then had a temple built on Mount Garizim in which his son-in-law Eliashib could function. Apparently this is when the full break between Jews and Samaritans took place.According to John McKenzie in his Dictionary of the Bible, the Samaritans later allied themselves with the Seleucids in the Maccabean wars and in 108 B.C. the Jews destroyed the Samaritan temple and ravaged the territory. Around the time of Jesus’ birth, a band of Samaritans profaned the Temple in Jerusalem by scattering the bones of dead people in the sanctuary.”On top of all of this, the Samaritans only viewed the Pentateuch (first 5 books) as scripture. They did not recognize Israel’s history or prophets as authoritative.” 

      • Good Samaritan Scripture We Studied: Luke 10:25-37
      • Peacemaking Map: peacemaking map
      • Reflection Questions:What is the third way Jesus is pointing to by using a Samaritan as the hero in the story?How is Jesus modeling Peacemaking by telling this story?
  • The Good Samaritan Group Discussion (55:17)
  • Practices + Resources for Peacemaking (60:15)


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