"Something broke in me": A Letter from Brian McLaren
Dear Dr. Pierce,
I don't think we've ever met, but I hope we meet sometime soon.
I, a white male Christian from an Evangelical background, feel the same way, and I thank you for putting this pain in words.
I've been following your work from a distance for some time, with great admiration. (In fact, you'll find a quote from an article of yours in a pivotal chapter  in my most recent book.)
I wanted to share a quote, from later in that book (Chapter 10), about this internal experience of a deep breaking:
But we who dare to lead must bear the cross, not on a gold chain around our necks, but in our deepest heart, in non-retaliatory suffering, as a way of life lived in what the educator and spiritual sage Parker Palmer calls "the tragic gap."
The tragic gap stretches between what is and what should be, between what life demands of us and what we can currently offer. The stress of holding that gap can break our hearts, he says, but there are 'at least two ways for the heart to break.'
First, the heart can "break apart "into a thousand shards, sharp-edged fragments that sometimes become shrapnel aimed at the source of our pain." But the heart can also be "broken open" - "into largeness of life, into greater capacity to hold one's own and the world's pain and joy."
Right now, Dr. Pierce, so many of us are feeling this breaking open with you ... and right now, it is all pain and no joy: it is pain for our country, pain for the cries of the earth and the cries of the poor that still go unheard, pain for our fellow-citizens who are expressing their own unhealed pain through the shrapnel of hate speech and worse, pain for those who are the targets of this misdirected rage.
We trust that resurrection follows death, that day follows night, that spring follows winter, and that joy comes in the morning. But right now, we don't feel it, and our trust feels like a high-risk long shot. But if our shared words of encouragement can help one another not give up for one more day, one more day, one more day, perhaps our joy in the future will be all the richer because of the pain of today. May that be so, dear sister.
With thanks and with great respect -
Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for "a new kind of Christianity" - just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is an Auburn Senior Fellow, a contributor to We Stand With Love, and a leader in the Convergence Network, through which he is developing an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors and church planters.
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