Discovering Our Blind Spots

When I first began thinking about this series of messages, Five Deadly Sins of the Church, my goal was to shed the light of God’s Spirit on some dark places in the church. These are areas of religious life in which we are all somehow complicit. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” You might not be guilty of these “sins” but we are all responsible for them to one degree or another.

What are these blind spots? How could I find these hidden recesses where sin lives unchallenged? It’s a perplexing dilemma when the definition of a blind spot is that you can’t see it or identify it. The answer to this problem is actually quite simple, and a primary reason why God’s people have always found their very existence in community: it takes others to help me see my blind spots. Not just any “others” but people with a sufficiently different view of the world such that they can help me see what I could not otherwise see. Learning about blind spots also requires a certain disposition in me. Namely, I have to refrain from immediately rejecting any idea that doesn’t fit with my own worldview. Again, blind spots are defined as things which I am blind to.

Last Sabbath I shared that one of the sobering realizations in my own life in the past 7 or 8 years—I guess since 9/11—has been the extent of my social privilege: a white, middle class, heterosexual man, born in the USA. (The list actually goes on). I owe my salvation to so many people who have helped me see the world as it really is. The French writer, Anaïs Nin (whose 110th birthday was this last Thursday) wrote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” So much truth in so few words. We see things as we are. I see the world—we each do—through the lenses of our experience and our identity.

Through the help of others in my life—people who are trusted friends and mentors to me—I am learning that I see the world through male eyes. I also see the world through heterosexual eyes. Not because I’m a bad person but because that’s who I am.

Today I am thrilled to have Trisha Famisaran  speak to us about the challenges facing the church in the areas of patriarchy and heterosexism. Not only does Trisha have a different set of eyes, she has studied these things more than any of the rest of us.

I hope that you will open your heart to God’s Spirit and allow her (can I say, her?) to reveal potential blind spots in your life.

—RYAN