As you read this, I’m at a two-day training event for internship supervisors at The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). Ascension had applied for an intern last year, but there was no good “match.” However, this year, I think we’re on to someone special who will be with us as an intern for a year. I’ll know more at the end of this training event.
In advance of the training, supervisors were asked to prepare by taking a series of tests about hidden bias. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html I’ve taken tests like this before, under other circumstances, but I am always cautious, concerned that the test might reveal biases of which I am not proud, let alone aware.
The test instructs the test taker to respond to each set of questions as quickly as possible, avoiding the temptation to psych out the “best” answer. After all, none of us wants to be revealed as racist, or homophobic, or sexist, or an economic snob. But, in spite of the admonition to hurry, I wanted to “please” the bot that would score my test. So, how would I answer the following questions to portray myself in the best light: “I have a preference for persons of European descent rather than those of African descent?” Or, “I believe women should be more responsible for child rearing than men?” What’s the right answer? My head is still spinning.
To be revealed, exposed, “outed” for the person you truly are. Does anyone really want that?
This Sunday we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus, an event described in three of the four gospels, and with great correlation among them. (Luke 9.28-36) The typical approach to this text is to study what the Transfiguration reveals about Jesus—that he is on par with Moses and Elijah, that he is Son of God, that he will be lifted up. But, because of my anxiety about the battery of tests I just took, I am more attentive to what this event reveals about Jesus’ disciples and their implicit biases.
If Peter, James and John were to take the Harvard Implicit Bias Tests, they might not be proud of what the tests reveal. The disciples don’t pay much attention when they are not the focus of attention. (They slept while Jesus prayed.) The disciples prefer the status quo to change. (Peter offered to build tents so they could stay on the mountain). The disciples were slow to grasp the significance of events. (They said nothing about what they had seen.) Rather than watch Jesus’ every movement, rather than being propelled by this event, rather than processing this event with friends and family, they hunkered down and did nothing, more concerned about their own comfort and “sameness” than imagining what Jesus was about.
Please join us Sunday. Our children gather for Children’s Music at 9:30 a.m. and Godly Play at 9:45 a.m. Sunday School Coordinator Kate Berlin will gather the Godly Play Parents at 9:30 in the Augustana Room to plan our children’s engagement with our upcoming Lent Challenge. During worship we install Congregation Council members and dedicate the Shine! capital projects. A Festive Reception will follow worship.
There is no Harvard Implicit Bias Test for discipleship. But I can imagine how the average disciple, the average congregation might score. More inward-focused than outward. More inclined to stasis than to kinesis. More likely to stay silent than risk offending or appearing foolish. Are we average? Typical?
And what was revealed this week in the vote of the United Methodist Church with regard to LGBTQ clergy? What was revealed in congressional hearings about gun control, campaign corruption, border security? I shudder to think.
This Sunday we gather around the Transfiguration texts, with all our biases and fears, our open hearts and minds tucked into the pew beside us. I am always grateful that at Ascension we are willing to name those biases and fears, willing to think a new thought, take a risky step, engage those who might be different from us.
Pastor JoAnn Post