October 13th I attended one of Qidea‘s annual events called QCommons. The theme was “Engaging our Divided Nation” and included a mix of national and local speakers discussing relevant topics from a Christian perspective. There were 100 cities that night hosting the event, and the one I attended in Lakeland was packed. We watched the national speakers address topics candidly and were able to discuss them ourselves during the breakout sessions.
Ravi Zacharias, author and Christian apologist was the first national speaker on “Responding in our Divided Moment”. He quoted Martin Luther King, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant”. Three things that led to our Christianity declining in our culture – Secularization which lead to loss of shame. Pluralization which lead to loss of reason. Privatization which lead to loss of meaning. We can combat this by reintroducing the four pillars the Bible gave us to build on – eternity, morality, accountability, and charity. Eternity defines existence. Morality defines essence. Accountability defines conscience. Charity defines beneficence
Then we had two local panels. The first was on “Effective Neighboring” with Elizabeth Hults, Laura Helm, Brian Seeley. Brian shared a story about a woman in need he assisted in the Parker Street neighborhood. The ladies shared how they involve the community in their businesses (versus excluding the community). They use their connections to help those less fortunate and share excess product with them. Even if one doesn’t own a business, just asking questions is a way to start being a good neighbor. I’ll admit I rarely speak to my neighbors, and was encouraged to do it more often. You never know where a conversation could go. Being set apart spiritually should not lead us to be set apart physically from our community. Being set apart spiritually should not lead us to be set apart physically from our community. Click To Tweet
The second local panel was “Art and Faith” with Abby Jarvis, Bump Galletta, Chase Wagner, some of Lakeland’s most talented and prolific artists. Abby is a poet, former Culture editor for the Lakelander and is in charge of content for QGiV in Lakeland, Josh is a self-employed artist and illustrator and Chase is the Creative Team Lead and head of Grace City Music at Grace City Church. Art provides comfort, beauty, a way to tell your story. Faith always finds a way to enter art, even in the mainstream. They shared their pet peeves with Christian art, including commercialization (no depth or real struggle with issues). The second national speakers were authors and political commentators, Kirsten Powers and Ross Douthat on “How Should Christians Think about Voting”. There was a discussion on political levels a Christian should consider when voting: policy, character, and the actually visualizing that person as president. They recommended the website myfaithvotes.org as a resource.
The third national speaker was Grammy winning artist Lecrae on “Race, Righteous Anger, and Resolution”. I’ll admit Lecrae was the main reason I attended this event, and he did not disappoint. My favorite part of the night was when he said “They wanted me to keep peace, I want to make peace. Making peace will disrupt things, keeping peace keeps things quiet.” They wanted me to keep peace, I want to make peace. Making peace will disrupt things. - Lecrae Click To Tweet. Making peace rocks the boat, as some of his recent controversial tweets have done about Terrence Crutcher, Colin Kapernick, and rap culture . There was a call for people, especially rappers, to not contribute to the apathy that the rest of America feels. I commented during the group discussion that his tweets have called out both African Americans and Caucasians, not just critiquing one side. He also mentioned how righteous anger leads to healing, while unrighteous anger leads to vengeance. I did not know that policing got some of its start from slave patrols, but I am not surprised. It’s yet another root of the reasons for tense relations between minorities and them. The girls at my table spoke on how they were not taught as he was to be weary of the police growing up.
The final local panel was “The Culture and Inclusivity of Posto 9” with Marco Franca and Alice Koehler. This was a conversation about the importance of bringing Brazilian culture and flavors to Lakeland and how that benefits the community. I didn’t know the Posto 9 was also the name of a lifeguard station in Rio. Marco wants to bring the melting pot atmosphere of the beach and station to Central FL. It made me all the more excited for the restaurant to open downtown in December!