By Tom Ehrich
TOWNSEND, TN -- This is my last full day of reflecting and writing in a cabin in the woods of eastern Tennessee. Tomorrow morning I get back in my rental car and point it north and east toward home.
These four days in a friend's cabin have been marvelous. I have done everything I wanted to do: relax, sleep well, enjoy non-driving solitude, visit with my friends, and get some deep thinking and deep writing done.
While I have been here, the snow has melted and ground reappeared. I don't expect to find that in Upstate New York. But it's coming. This long winter will end.
In writing what I am calling "Reflections," I am not trying to sum up everything that happened in the first 3,300 miles. But if were to sum it up, I would say this:
This is a big country -- bigger than I had imagined. This is a diverse country -- and those who are trying to squash diversity are doing a grave injustice to the nation. God is a big God -- big in scope, big in heart, big in love and joy, big in diversity, big in wanting good things for all of us, not just some of us.
We know the US through the small slivers where we live and travel. We know God in the small glimpses and venues where we see God at work. We couldn't begin to see it all. But we must recognize that there is an "all." There is more to the USA than we see, and certainly more to the world than we see at home. There is more to God than we know.
Over the years, Christians have become a demonic force when we demanded that our sliver become normative for all. In those moments, we have become willing to do horrible things to people, ideas and beliefs outside our small purview.
We find ourselves in a dangerous time, when one stripe of politicians and one stripe of religious leaders are gathering a ton of money and momentum to impose their wills on everyone. I think we must do everything in our power to resist this oppressive instinct.
What I am hearing in these four weeks on the road is a call to action. Political action, prophetic action, religious action -- not that I and whoever agrees with are right, but that our strength as both a nation and a faith lies in open-mindedness.
We are meant to be a free and open society, in which people can speak freely and chart their own courses. No amount of religious certainty justifies impinging on that freedom and openness.