How Conversations Can Change the World

Conversations from Jubilee photo Jubile2013010_zpsd52c690a.jpg

The conversations stay with me. The way minds touched in between sessions and around exhibition tables. This is the true currency of Jubilee—people who care about shaping young lives, lingering over a cup of coffee…mingling in doorways and halls. There was that exchange I had with Marcus and Dwight Gibsonand Dr.Vince Bacote—the Abraham Kuyper scholar. He wrote the introduction to Wisdom and Wonder—a book on Kuyper that I reviewed for The High Calling last year.

Vince is on faculty at Wheaten College and he and Marcus were discussing the museum there that has several pieces from C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
“Vince is lamenting that he is a Kuyper scholar in an Inklings world,” Marcus laughed.
Vince smiled and said, “No, no—C.S. Lewis is good too.”
We all laughed and talked a little about Lewis’s powerful voice. I thought of my husband who became a Christian in his forties after reading Mere Christianity. Then the conversation took an interesting turn.
 “People are surprised when they meet me and see that I am African-American,” Vince said. “And they want to know how I can reconcile being a Kuyper scholar with my heritage. Because, well…Kuyper was a racist.”
I groped around in my mind for the words he used in the introduction to Wisdom and Wonder about this issue. When I first read them, I didn’t know he is a black man.

“It is not necessary to have total agreement with a person in order to admire them or find their contributions to be of great value. Some of Kuyper’s specific views on science and art may not be embraced by all readers; while incredibly prescient regarding some developments in society, Kuyper was not omniscient, and at times ventured opinions we might find surprising…While his theology emphasized the creation of all humans in the divine image and while his emphasis on cultural diversity (multiformity) encourages humility about the extent of our knowledge, these emphases did not lead him to proper regard for all humans…”

That’s what he said in the book. But here he was in the flesh and he had our attention.
“How do you reconcile that?” Dwight wanted to know.  
I leaned in closer because Vince has a gentle voice and I wanted to hear what he said.
He drew a deep breath.
“I think…I think that the gravitational pull of his culture was too strong for him to overcome it with his theology.”
He said it for us again. And all I could think was grace. What a grace filled response to the stench of human imperfection.
“If he were alive today, do you think he would be a racist?” Dwight ventured.
“No, I don’t,” Vince responded. And we talked about the pull of culture and Thomas Jefferson and how only God knows what goes on inside the heart of a man.
I keep coming back to this conversation and wondering how this world might look if we all showed such grace to our fellow man.
Would we have made it this far?
It’s black history month here are some books and links that are humbling me:
More than Anything Else by Marie Bradby, Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet.
The Civil Rights Movement, videos from the History Channel
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
*note: I use Amazon Associate links so you will be able to have a quick resource about  the books I mention but may I recommend you order any books you are interested in from our friends at Hearts and Minds books? Byron and Beth are amazing stewards of the written word and they are so wonderful to work with.


  1. says

    Amazing how our attitudes and ideas can change after reading a book or hearing a speaker !!
    Perhaps we should read our Bibles with a closer look at who is speaking and what they are saying – It might change us a bit.

  2. Jennifer Dougan says


    Nice to meet you. Vince’s line: “I think that the gravitational pull of his culture was
    too strong for him to overcome it with his theology” is pretty riveting. Wow, thank you, and the grace you mention.

    I enjoyed teaching my middle schooler and high schooler about Martin Luther King, JFK, Rosa Parks, and more this last fall in school. Powerful. MLK’s letters from Birmingham Jail are powerful, especially in light of him trying to copy Jesus (and Gandhi’s) style.

    Popping over. Have a great week.

    Jennifer Dougan

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