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

The expansion is fueled by concerns over political polarization on college campuses, an infusion of funds from foundations interested in bridge-building, and a merger with IFYC, which has a track record facilitating interfaith engagement.
Ancient rabbis imagined the great chain of tradition, that went from generation to generation, as a ball that is tossed, playfully, from teacher to student. Is there a "Lasso Torah" inside a television show about a fish-out-of-water Midwestern football coach?
Studies show houses of worship have provided solace during the pandemic, but companies across the U.S. are struggling to respond to requests for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.
Catholics leaders have urged vaccination to "protect the most vulnerable," and studies show this outreach is helping improve vaccination rates among Latino Catholics.
Across the country, people from all political divides, faiths and walks of life are coming together to help resettle Afghan refugees arriving at the borders.
The first episode of “Home Sweet Home,” which DuVernay said prioritizes curiosity over conflict, features the Wixx family — a “super queer” Black couple with three children.
Each week, we share our top 10 religion stories from journals, news sites, podcasts and magazines.
Dr. Abel Gomez: "If we’re talking about interfaith work and we want to expand the ability of communities to practice their religious ceremonies, I ask my students: if we think about the experience of Native people under the occupation of the United States, do they actually have religious freedom?"
The Fisk Jubilee Singers, based at the historically Black university founded by the abolitionist American Missionary Association and later tied to the United Church of Christ, started traveling 150 years ago on Oct. 6, 1871.
The last several months have been catastrophic for Haiti. The Aug. 14 earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead, followed by Tropical Depression Grace two days later. The country’s political sector has been in disarray & over 22,000 people have officially died during the pandemic.
Apache Stronghold will take part in a day of prayer Saturday (Oct. 9) at Oak Flat before meeting with leaders of the Tohono O’odham Nation, who will offer a blessing and prayer for their travels.
It’s not just interactions with friends and families that are getting cut. Routine yet beneficial interactions with people at fitness and child care centers and volunteer organizations are also being eliminated.
Ismaili Jamatkhanas are designed to be both places of worship and community engagement, so when the chance to conduct a vaccine drive became a possibility, volunteers mobilized quickly.
Amid personal and professional crises, the author writes that she finds her Christian faith "one of the most fruitful sources of hope, even in the darkest hours."
Facebook has been a catalyst for religious communities that aren’t defined geographically. For religious leaders who connect with their flocks on the internet, the outage was a reminder to own their information.
The pedestal that propped up the statue of Junipero Serra looks bare at first glance, but once a smartphone camera is aimed toward it, an animated monument honoring the Tongva, the Indigenous people of Los Angeles, comes alive.
A Lutheran church in Wisconsin recently hosted an interfaith dialogue between a pagan and Lutheran pastor. They will continue the conversation this month in an event hosted by the Parliament of the Worlds Religions in Chicago.
The articles and videos are by and about inspiring Latinx/a/o interfaith leaders from diverse religious communities.
Our top 10 religion stories of the week show religious pluralism as an opportunity, not a cause for despair. They're also great reads.
The law, possibly the first of its kind in the nation, is part of a larger effort by women athletes to have more say about what they wear while competing.
"We are American faith leaders from six different faith traditions, including yours," said a letter to President Joe Biden. "We see our nation continuing to spectacularly fail in welcoming the stranger."

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.