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Henri Nouwen, Now & Then Podcast | Anne Snyder “The Fabric of Character” (2020):
Turning the Tide Speech (2019):
The video is courtesy of Cardus and includes remarks by Anne Snyder, the new editor-in-chief of Comment, at Turning the Tide: Celebrating Comment and a New Era of Voices, held in Washington, DC on October 9, 2019
For a transcript of the video above, follow this link, and for further discussion and introspection, check out the article here.
The Fabric Of Character: A Wise Givers Guide to Supporting Social and Moral Renewal (2019):
7 thoughts on “Anne Snyder”
Anne Snyder speaks to a growing and increasingly concerning truth in modern society, which is the secularism of faith and the lack of acceptance of diversity that prevents the true blossoming of Christianity.
Through the juxtaposition of her experiences between secular “white” Christianity, and diversified Christianity, Snyder helps to paint a picture of the beauty that lies in the merging of cultural ideas towards how we as a society can better harness our faith.
Personally, I felt that Snyder’s message was especially touching considering that I myself belong to a Church that is so widely diverse and multi-racial. She helped me to gain new insight on how my faith is such a direct relation to those around me, and how fortunate I am to have such a close encounter with religious fellowship in my own life.
In many areas of North America, there is such a significant divide between the interpretations and ideas of Christianity, and this leads to much unrest concerning what is “acceptable” in the faith. This divide, as Snyder states, is exactly what Christ advises us against. How can we possibly live in communion with each other if we fail to recognize the validity of all our encounters with the Spirit? The truth is, faith is relative to individuals and cannot be judged or scorned by anyone.
Anne Snyder’s message serves as a reminder to not only Christians, but all of humanity, that we require each other if we hope to constantly lead lives of growth, integrity, and purpose. No one can possibly flourish if they are solely focused on their own ability, but rather, through seeking the other.
Great response! I think your point about Snyder painting a picture of how beauty lies in the merging of cultural ideas is especially insightful! I think Snyder really captures this when she says that faith is something bracing, life-giving, transcendent and culturally adaptive. I too also enjoyed Snyder’s comments of faith being relative and that it fundamentally goes against the teachings of Christ to judge and belittle others based on your own individualized concept of faith and belief. I found a lot of parallels between this and my own religion because as Muslims we are also taught to refrain from such harsh judgements. I definitely agree her message is not just for Christians, it is widely applicable to people of all creeds, races, and cultures – it is a message for humanity because it is based in goodwill and building solidarity with one another. Well done!
Valuscha- you made a great point concerning “the divide in interpretations on the ideal Christianity” not only in North America, but where ever Christianity has been active in the world. this divide in Christian practices originated from the beginning of Christianity or from the second century when different sects began to spring up with their own way of worshipping the divine through Jesus Christ which Apostle Paul dealt with in the bible when the church in Corinth were taking sides-some professed their alliance to Apollos and others to Paul (1 Corinthians 3). Although we have one faith in Christ Jesus, the big question to meditate on is whether Christianity can be separated from culture. I think that our culture has a large influence on our Christian practices. I will expand on this thought later on.
Anne Snyder covered a robust moral topic in this presentation. The idea that an alliance has to be made between all socioeconomic classes, phenotypes, gender, ability and non-abled, young and old, educated and non-educated to come together in one accord without rivalry is the future of the church. I really do agree with Snyder’s ideas because where there’s unity, power structure and inequality cease to exist, then we’ll whole heartedly support others without ulterior motives. Here’s where the common good takes precedence; is to be of service to all of humanity regardless of differences.
I think Snyder has the firsthand experience to speak informatively on this topic because as she stated, she has lived in other nations and perhaps been influenced by other ideologies to know that we share a lot in common as Christians than what differentiates us. Also, when Snyder shared that new immigrants bring the different expression of faith to North America, I interpret that to be the interrelatedness between culture and religion. For instance, in most non-western cultures the ideal is communal living where everyone is connected to each other. This culture is brought to the west and practiced in churches with an openness to all people or what Snyder referred to as ‘caring holistically’ for the need of the individual.
The takeaway for me is that Christ followers regardless of denomination is called to help one another (Christians and non-Christians alike), such is the practice of the common good. The virtues of love, humility, generosity is described as the fruit of the Holy spirit which is needed within the Christian community to bring unity among believers regardless of denomination.
Franca, you have here some insightful thoughts. I would just like to echo what you have said here about how Christians, regardless of denominations are “called to help one another (Christians and non-Christians alike).” Indeed, this is the core of who we are – people of love and concerned about the “common good”. Pope Francis has alluded to these thoughts throughout his Pontificate, particularly in Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’. Upon his flight back from Morrocco, Pope Francis said, “The bridge is for human communication. This is most beautiful, and I have seen it here in Morocco. Instead, walls are against communication; they are for isolation, and those who build them will become prisoners.”
Bridges – that is where interfaith comes in. We need dialogue, we need communication with one another in order to move forward and build a better society. Doctrines and dogmas… while I am not undermining their importance within the respective religions, all must believe in the common good and the law of love towards our neighbours because those are the things we should be concerned of at this point in time. Love and act first, the doctrines and dogmas will eventually come after.
Snyder’s remarks were very well articulated, informed, and racially aware. I believe she thoroughly debunked what is wrong with trying to live in a colorblind society especially in communities of faith and conveyed this message beautifully. As someone who has always been very interested in race relations, seeing her apply it to the context of the Church was very captivating for me. I also enjoyed her intellectual connections to the nation state of America as she argues that although the country was founded on ideals of equality and human dignity, it has failed consistently to embody them both on systematic and personal levels. Her statement of “a crisis of solidarity has cracked open, running first along lines of social class, now layered if not eclipsed by race and ideological worldview” was very interesting to me and subtly contradicts the argument of renowned race scholars, Omi and Winant’s conception of race as a master category meaning it supersedes all other spheres of identity in the United States and becomes the unconscious basis for all social relationships. I learned of Omi and Winant’s theory in one of my summer school courses I took this year being the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity and I always found this concept to be very interesting. Whereas Snyder implies the master category was at first social class and has shifted to race, I am left with the idea of social master categories to be abstract and fluid, changing over time to accommodate to contextual cultural and historical circumstances.
I don’t know if anybody reading this watched a show called, “The Magic School Bus” during their childhood? If so you may remember Ms. Frizzle (the classroom teacher) with her famous slogan. “…take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.” Honestly, I had a little difficulty trying to extract a theme out of this talk by Anne Snyder. However, I did take out some quotes and copied them on my iPad as I was re-reading them a couple of times and came to this conclusion on my end: even in a secularized world, Christians must continue to have a missionary spirit.
Some may think that to be Christian means to be monk in prayer all day, or in an adoration in an Adoration Chapel 24/7. There are some Christians who have such vocation, but certainly not everyone. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” (Mt 28:19) Jesus said. “Go!” Those words still echo throughout this secularized world. While some people believe in materialism and how materialism will satisfy them, however, the world is so much more than materialism, acquiring a big home or the newest iPhone. It is about being missionaries, bringing the Good News of things beyond this world. Simplicity, kindness, service – “At age 20 I had a vocation-cementing experience helping build a water system in rural Honduras…” I have heard similar experiences from those who have come back from mission trips. There is something fulfilling about giving of oneself for the service of others. I don’t think I have ever heard of someone who went on a mission trip and felt gloomy coming back.
Giving back to the community and getting with the common peoples is what the missionary spirit is. Christians cannot become insensitive to the needs of others and therefore, it is so important to at times leave behind the secularized world in order to step into different realities of the lives of different people. This is something not only for Christians – that is what we are called to do. As I write this, I am watching The Kindness Diaries, as Leon, a man goes around the world living on the kindness of others. Those who reach out to him, they are living that modern-day missionary spirit. Let us put aside our needs and wants to become sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters whom we meet everyday. It is not merely just some words of wisdom given to them, true missionary spirit requires us to get our hands dirty, “get messy” – let’s do that today.
This was such an inspiring, perceptive and generous talk!
Anne Snyder is full of hope and wisdom. However, what really struck me is that this hope and wisdom is not founded on wishful optimism, dogmatism, nostalgia, vitriol or abandoning religion but instead on putting non-dominant cultures’ experiences of God front and centre.
As a white Christian man, the fear of losing ‘Christian’ cultural dominance has been evident in various communities I’ve been a part of. When Snyder compared the Christian fearful white elite with the inspired and inspiring Christian graduation ceremony comprised mostly of minority groups, I felt a resonance with my experiences and conviction from the Spirit. It has been a deeply alienating and distressing experience for me to see so many white evangelicals retreat into defensiveness, dogmatic fundamentalism and political culture wars over the last 5 years. If Snyder is right, and I think she is, the fatalism I have experienced and seen in communities that are mostly white and/or mostly male may have less to do with ‘rampant secularisation,’ and more to do with unconsciously feeling threatened by more diverse people gradually gaining more power in society.
Personally, I really appreciate Snyder’s appeal to including everyone, (even older white men!). Building bridges is so hard and requires generosity, perseverance and deep listening. Snyder’s inclusive approach was both convicting, but also non-threatening in a way that helps people take their guard down and really listen.