By Rev. Matt Koerber
We plan to conclude our blog by spending the final week thinking about application. We have addressed some challenging problems and we have heard some amazing stories. I hope that some readers are asking the question: “How do we respond?” Over this next week we will hear from people who have reflected on that question. At the end of the week I will try to present some ideas related to immigration policy.
For today’s post, I am going to go slightly off topic and advertise an event that is happening Monday, June 6th, from 7:00-9:00pm at the City Reformed Church office. While it does not relate directly to immigration, it connects strongly to our theme verse. When we think about “all of the nations streaming to the mountain of the Lord,” it is impossible for Americans to ignore our own racial history.
At this event – part of the “Agora Forum” series – we will watch and discuss one of the most intriguing documentaries that I have ever seen. “Accidental Courtesy” is a documentary from Independent Lens (PBS), which follows the story of a truly remarkable man. Subtitled “Daryl Davis, Race and America” it explores the life and mission of an African American musician who has a history of forming friendships with the most unlikely people. He forms friendships with members of the Ku Klux Klan. As a result of these relationships, dozens of people have left the Klan and other white supremacist groups.
Daryl Davis was driven by a simple question: “How can you hate me, if you don’t even know me?” He had traveled the world as an adolescent and had learned to relate to people of many different cultural backgrounds. Returning to the United States, he was surprised by the overt racism that endured. His adventures started accidentally, when he was playing country music at a bar in the South. He met someone from the audience who liked his music and as they talked over a beer the man sheepishly revealed that he was a member of the Klan. Undeterred, Eric pressed in. He asked questions and refused to back away. Then something extraordinary happened. The Klansman asked to see him the next time he was in town. Something had changed. He began to see Daryl as a friend.
When he left the Klan he gave his Klansman robes to Daryl.
The story was repeated in different ways in different places. Not everyone that Daryl talked with changed their mind. Not everyone thought of him as a friend. But his pursuit of friendship with members of the Klan is one of the strongest depictions of “loving your enemy” that I have ever seen. I found his courage to be inspirational and I was moved by the power of his compassion.
A trailer for the documentary can be viewed here: http://accidentalcourtesy.com/. The full documentary is available on Netflix. It can also be purchased through PBS (Independent Lens.)
On Monday night, we will watch (part of) the documentary. I am delighted to say that my friend, Eddie Jones will help to lead the discussion. Eddie is a pastor at Eternal City Church in Wilkinsburg – an intentionally multiracial congregation affiliated with the Acts 29 network. Eddie has been a wonderful conversation partner for me. He is man of great spiritual insights who is deeply committed to building bridges across social divides. I hope that you can join us, but if not… please check out the documentary.