Read 2 Kings 6:8-23. What stood out to you in this reading of the text?
Yes, although sometimes dietary restrictions can make eating together difficult. Other contact between groups also helps reduce prejudice and intergroup conflict. Eboo Patel advocates service activities where people from different religious backgrounds work side by side.
Thank you, Gina, for the comment about "contact bias." This passage reminds me of Psalm 23 and sitting at table with enemies. John Paul Lederach says that eating together creates a space where something new and positive can emerge between people who are at odds with each other. If we refuse contact with someone, we cannot see what they see.
Thanks, Chris. I'm intrigued by Lederach's view. I wonder what the power is in eating a meal together. Do you think we see each other's humanity when we all have the same need for nourishment?
That's a profound connection, Gina!
In recent years, I have learned that it is problematic to have a "them." It is healthier for all if we see we are all "us."
The "tribe over truth" bias is a new concept for me, but I can see it at work in my extended family circle. The choices of different news media paint a different color on events for different people, and each "side" thinks the other is wrong because they are being duped and led astray from the truth. I am interested in hearing your racial justice group's ideas on how to break free.
Thanks for taking the discussion deeper for us, Gina. I am learning from you, and I am so grateful you have chosen to be a part of this!
The racial justice group has recently been talking about bias using Brian McLaren's podcast series Unconscious Bias, a Journey of Learning to See. Tonight we will be discussing community bias and how the human brain finds it very hard to see something your group doesn't want you to see. This bias puts tribe over truth. In addition we will be discussing contact bias - if we lack contact with someone, we won't see what they see. Of course, this allows us to see people who think differently than us to be the "other", the "bad guys" and sets up a "them against us" dynamic. And it is so hard to break free from that because we get acceptance and feelings of affirmation from the tribe we associate with. How wise Elisha (and God) was in this story, providing an opportunity for the Israelites to have positive contact with those who think differently than they and making them less of an enemy with hospitality and listening and eating together.
I like the question presented at the opening of the devotional–”What is really going on here?” That seems to be the question several of us have been asking in regard to many of the verses we’ve been reading for Advent. It’s a question that reminds us to look deeper. That adverb, really, tells us there might be something beyond the obvious, the literal, for us to notice and from which to learn.
That question reminds me of a note of three questions that I keep on my desk. I think JulieAnn gave me these questions to ponder:
What is happening?
Where is God in it?
What is mine to do?
As I read or write at my desk, I often find an application for those questions. I thought I should share them in case others also find them helpful.
As to the Bible verses for today’s entry, how cool is Elisha?! First of all, the mind-reading of the enemy is impressive and handy. The fact that the King of Israel listens to Elisha and respects what he says is awesome–and life-saving for the Israelites. Elisha has the ability to see God’s power as a visible force. That image must have been a major fear-buster and confidence-booster! And, when Elisha prays for God to do extraordinary things, like blinding/confusing the enemy’s direction, God grants his request. Elisha seems unstoppable!
Yet, what does Elisha do with this power? I wasn’t as familiar with this Bible story as I was with some others, and I was expecting Elisha to direct all the enemy forces to be wiped out in something like a supernatural violent-but-silent strike. (See 2 Kings 19:35 for that kind of battle.) But, no! The resolution in today’s reading is my absolute favorite part of the story!! Elisha directs the king to offer the vulnerable enemy forces hospitality with a feast! The king must have thought Elisha had gone bonkers, but he complied. As a result, the Arameans “no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.” Talk about a plot twist! The enemy was defeated . . . because it was no longer an enemy! Israel had a peaceful victory. It’s Elisha for the win!!
I think I already see the answers to “What is happening?” and “Where is God in it?” in this story. Now, what is mine/ours to do? Hospitality, plot twists of kindness . . .