Heffalumps, Homophobes, and Other Strange Creatures

Confession time: I went to see Pooh’s Heffalump Movie
this weekend with my family…and enjoyed it!  Since then there
have been a few thoughts that have been going around in my mind…

  1. “They” are afraid of “us” because “they” don’t understand “us.”
  2. “They” are afraid of “us” because “we” don’t understand “them.”
  3. “We” are afraid of “them” because “they” don’t understand “us.”
  4. “We” are afraid of “them” because “we” don’t understand “them.”

While you don’t have to see the movie to makes sense of this, it does
help to visualize these relational truths.  Pooh and his friends
have always had fearful thoughts of those horrible Heffalumps. 
They dreaded the day that they would actually come in contact with one
and quite possibly be eaten…or worse.  When Roo finally
“captures” the dreaded Heffalump (whose nickname is Lumpy) the two
realize that the people on the “other side of the fence” aren’t so bad
after all.  They spend the day playing together and enjoying one
another’s differences.  Of course when Lumpy meets the rest of the
gang he is met with the kind of anger that fear often produces. 
Rabbit, Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger attempt to capture Lumpy and end up
scaring the poor little guy to death.

Now, superimpose this movie on top of the ER episode from Thursday
night where Keri meets her long lost mom who turns out to be portrayed
as a closed-minded, born-again, Evangelical Christian who can’t accept
Keri “just as she is.”  And put that on top of my wife’s relaying
of the Wife Swap episode last week where the high-society Dallas
Republican-Evangelical swaps places with a working class lesbian couple
and lives up to the stereotype of judgementalism that the media loves
to promote when it comes to Christianity.

It doesn’t matter what the dividing line is between “us” and ‘them”
because the fence automatically creates fear.  It could be the
dividing line between people of different races — look at the
struggles Dr. King and others faced in the 60’s and 70’s.  It may
be the dividing line of religion — Catholic vs. Protestant, Baptist
vs. Methodist, Muslim vs. Christian.  It may be the dividing line
of generations — Gen X vs. EVERYBODY ELSE!  The fence creates
fear and fear makes for a bigger fence.

One of the first truths that I learned about communication in
relationships was this — Seek first to understand and then to be
understood.  I think that we (Jesus followers) should be working
our tails off to understand…walk a mile in the shoes of the world
before we begin to help them understand us.  We spend so much time
defending our own territory that we never climb over the fence and see
the world from a different angle.

It’s our Story, too.  On this side of Eden people had all kinds of
misconceptions about God.  We made up rules and regulations to
keep Him from getting mad at us.  We even made other gods just in
case we missed a few and as a result hacked them off.  Then Jesus
decided to crawl over the fence and walk around with us.  He said
“This is what God is like — not that stuff that you guys have been
chasing.”  Kingdom people crawl over the fence and may even find a
few friends on the other side.  Heffalumps aren’t so scary after
all!

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~ by Chris Green on February 14, 2005.

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