A Rose Conscience

Nathan Stanton has spent the last 10 years as a pastor, church planter and artist on the West, South and Northsides of Chicago, and is an Interfaith America Racial Equity Media Fellow 

 

We are at a Kairos moment in our country, one where change seems eminent and chaos is just on the horizon. Yet we are faced with a polarized nation largely along liberal and conservative lines. Maybe that is the natural way people will divide? But I have one question, Where is our collective conscience? Where is that tender portion of our psyche that leads us through the unknown valleys of life? We seem to have traded it in for one that is as predictable as it is prideful. Our rose-colored view of our future will have to die the hardest of deaths before the reality of our situation can set in.

Subscribe now

I like to say I was born an optimist or born with the view that life will fundamentally work out well. This was the reality on the night of November 26th. Then my family was informed that my 32-year old sister had tragically died in a car accident. That moment shook me up as it did the lives of her children, all four. They’d had their anchor in this world snatched and my 4 brothers, my mom, dad and I had a light go out. This is the time where I had to evaluate my occupation as a self-styled positivist-One with the rose-colored glasses who always saw the upside. You see with all of the powers of a creative I could not find the silver lining. There were several paths to consider and they all looked bleak. This forced me to embrace the chaotic process of grieving the loss of my only sister. A year later I found I could be more honest about the way I felt and lament the injustice my optimism only allowed me to endure. Catharsis was found in the expression of sorrow locked up in my very soul.

So now we stand in the wake of and on the precipice of disease and disaster as a nation. No matter the choice for leader of the free world that is finalized, we’ll find our real comfort has officially deserted us. It does not matter who becomes president or a whole slew of other offices. We are officially broken but there seems to be a chasm between our reality and our rosy disposition that can only be mended with the most courageous truth-telling, Listen!!

We are a loose collective of cowards who are more known for what we think than what we believe, or that which moves us. Our ideologies choose a distance of inactivity, an essential posture of a coward. No conviction can happen without a conscience and we have none. No matter how pure or certain a moral position may seem, there remains a litany of assailants waiting to take it down. Mostly online. Where is the tenderizer for a collective conscience hardened by pride and thought? But what do we believe? What are we convinced and convicted of? The choice of comfort fed upon by the mighty powers that have a vested interest in benefit, has created mouths that parrot the same “realities” without a cost to be had.

In 1 Chronicles 21 David orders a census which was explicitly against the law God had given at that time. As a punishment God give David three choices: a famine, defeat by foes or destruction by way of a God-sent plague. David chooses the latter and 70,000 Israelites die. As an act of mercy God instructs David to construct an altar on the land of a man named Ornan. When Ornan hears this, he offers David his land free of cost. In verse 24 David responds:

“No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that that costs me nothing”

Although David went against his conscience in ordering the census, he found it when honoring and worshipping God. Our collective conscience must be developed by belief that leads to courageous action. Without it we are governed by comfort that creates cowards. The 1000 deaths of our collective conscience daily creates an environment rife with opinion yet anemic with action.

I pray we truly embrace the place we find ourselves as a people. That this moment would infuse our hearts with courage to tell the truth. A truth that moves us out of comfort into just action. Inviting us to leave the land of opiniated cowardice and enter into the lush ecosystem of courageous movement.

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

North Carolina is not alone in regard to macro-level efforts by state governments to increase access to vaccines, subverted by micro-level actions by individuals.
A través de mi experiencia, sé que las familias hispanas han sido gravemente, y desproporcionadamente, afectadas por la pandemia, y los datos de la Encuesta sobre Diversidad Religiosa y Vacunas de 2021 de PRRI-IFYC lo corroboran.
"It is permissible within our religion to defer, or to make up your fast later if you're feeling sick."
From experience, I know that Hispanic families had been greatly, and disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and survey data from the 2021 PRRI-IFYC Religious Diversity and Vaccine Survey corroborates this.
As the last few days of Ramadan are upon us – take our interactive quiz to find out how much you really know about this holy month.
We weren’t sure what to expect or how to navigate the complexities of getting to know colleagues from a distance, but IFYC team members Silma and Nadia welcomed us into their homes, their traditions, and their faith.
As the final project for the class, we wanted to do something that would make our campus a more inclusive, interreligious place.
IFYC is collecting prayers and meditations from diverse faiths to show our solidarity with the people of India, as well as links to charitable organizations that people can support.
Generally, tradition holds that the body is to be cremated or buried as quickly as possible – within 24 hours for Hindus, Jains and Muslims, and within three days for Sikhs. This need for rapid disposal has also contributed to the current crisis.
“Humanitarian Day embodies why Islam is relevant in America today. It’s why many Black Muslims embraced Islam, to be part of the solution, not only in their personal lives, but in their communities." - Margari Aziza Hill, MuslimARC
Recently, I asked a group of IFYC Alumni to share what they do in one sentence. I love their responses because they capture who they are so well.
As a nurse and a physician occupying different spheres in relation to the patient, Anastasia and I held comparable but also differing views about the role of religion and interfaith in the realm of patient care.
El movimiento necesita artistas, educadores, trabajadores de la salud, padres, funcionarios electos, científicos, clérigos, directores generales, y cuantas personas sea posible para hablar en contra de la injusticia donde sea que la veamos.
The scholarship covers the students’ tuition, as well as housing and living assistance while they pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees across all 18 of Columbia’s schools and affiliates.
En esta foto del sábado 9 de mayo de 2020, el Rev. Fabián Arias lleva a cabo un servicio en casa, al lado de los restos de Raúl Luis López quien murió de COVID-19 el mes previo, en el barrio Corona del distrito de Queens en Nueva York.
It is certainly within the rights of philanthropic and political institutions to 'not do religion,' but such an approach undermines any meaningful, holistic commitment to community or place-based humanitarian efforts in much of this country.
Last month, Kevin Singer, co-director of Neighborly Faith, brought two interfaith leaders together to discuss their respective publications and the consequences of the Equality Act on religious organizations, institutions, and places of worship.
It is in this spirit respeaking memory and finding time to etch it into the future that I offer the following exercise. It is designed to do with your friends or folks – preferably three or more. Take some time with it. Use it as a catalyst to...
Imagine my surprise upon coming to USA and celebrating my first Easter, but didn’t people realize it was Easter? Why are all the egg die and chocolates already sold out and none left for us celebrating a few weeks later?
They will, in other words, be learning the skills of mindfulness meditation — the secular version of the Buddhist practice that has skyrocketed in popularity to become America's go-to antidote for stress.
This is a sampling of sacred texts and statements, listed in alphabetical order by religion, that religious communities have used to engage in the work of public health amidst this global pandemic.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.