In The Wolf and the Lamb by the Rev. Eric Law he talks about intercultural communities in the context of the passage Isaiah 11:6-9. This passage is often known as the “Peaceable Kingdom.” But the author prefers it to be known as the “Peaceable Realm” because the word kingdom has “too many connotations of the hierarchical human system that the passage challenges.” Really? A passage about the coming Kingdom of God doesn’t have anything in it about hierarchy?
In the next chapter he quotes Micah 6:8 “He has shown thee, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee: But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Here he gives his definition of Justice: “Justice means equal distribution of power and privilege among all people.” Really, so what about Christ’s parable of the talents, where the division was unequal, do you not get?
I like Chesterton’s view of this passage much better. In Orthodoxy he say:
But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is — Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? THAT is the problem the Church attempted; THAT is the miracle she achieved.
I think the common problem of our era is thinking the solution is to always turn wolves and lions into lambs. We think the solution to everything is equality of status. We are all against hierarchy (except for the people at the top who know best and need to be there to ensure all the rest of us are all equal).
But God doesn’t make us all alike. It is the variety and diversity that he revels in. To be truly all we should be, we need to be unequal. What is important is not the equality, it is the freedom, the freedom to be different, diverse, creative. In an off-handed comment once I said having the right to vote really wasn’t essential to me – as long as the government was limited and my freedom assured, I would be satisfied. Let someone call himself king and rule over me, if my freedom was assured. That isn’t what we have in the United States, but it makes a good point. Too many people forget that we didn’t fight for equality, we fight for freedom.
Back to the book. On the other hand, the conclusion that Rev. Law comes to at the end of chapter three is something I can give earnest attention to. People have different perceptions of their power to participate and make changes. Just seating them at the table won’t get them to participate. If they feel they have to be invited to speak and share, you have to invite them specifically. If they are there but don’t feel able to speak without the support of their community, you have to allow them to generate that support to be able to speak. If you want people to participate, you have to recognize them and meet them at their diversity. You need to allow them to stay different – or not.