I live in the world of church. On occasion, I venture out into the world of my childrens' schools, into the unfortunate reality of retail, the camaraderie of amateur musicianship, or the anonymity of a coffee-house. But mostly, I live in the world of church.
In the world of church, it seems like we all look the same ~ not as twins, but culturally and socio-economically, most congregations tent to be pretty homogeneous. Now, there is benefit to homogeneity ~ we are more comfortable around people whose lifestyle and worldview lay neatly next to ours, and it doesn't take much work to build relationships.
To contrast the benefit, though, are the drawbacks. Primarily, it is a very short step from being comfortable around people who are like us to falling into a pattern of segregation. More subtly, if we surround ourselves only with people who have the same type of life-experience and the same type of views about the world, we are never forced to work very hard to be in relationship.
Sometimes, people in communities will disagree with one another. This is part of the human condition ~ we will not all see eye-to-eye all the time. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that the increasing ease of access to personal transportation in the past 50 years coupled with the increasing ease of access to the internet in the past 10 has led to increased segregation in both the ecclesiological and political life of our nation. No longer are we required to actually interact with people with whom we disagree. Whenever conversations become too uncomfortable, we always have the option to just leave and find someone who thinks the same way we do.
I live in the world of the church, and I pray that we in the church will work to find a way to be community together even when we disagree with one another. The world seems to be tearing itself apart through vitriolic disagreement. I pray that we the church might also be an example of healthy and life-giving disagreement ~ and conversation that actually improves the world.