Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working my way through Miroslav Volf’s book Exclusion and Embrace Volf explores reconciliation and forgiveness through the lens of identity, paying particular attention to the fact that our identities are social (constructed in relation to others) and that identities can be constructed in ways that lead to hatred and enmity between people-groups. God must have a sense of humor, because for me the easiest way I’ve been able to understand the ways in which hateful senses of identity are created is through the analogy of the Colorado vs. Nebraska football rivalry.
CU Football fans hate Nebraska. For example, when CU beat Nebraska 62 to 36 during my freshman year of college, we cheered when the television cut to a scene of a 4 year old boy dressed in a Cornhuskers shirt crying his eyes out during the fourth quarter. Were football not a relatively trivial thing to allow to have such control over one’s emotions, we surely would have been more compassionate at the sight of a crying child. But, no, we were not. We rejoiced at his tears.
How sick are we, that we create such powerful identities and loyalties based on things as trivial as football? Yet this is exactly what we do, to the point that many Coloradans look with disdain upon anything associated with the state of Nebraska. A joke that’s told somewhat frequently by members of my family goes like this. Q: What’s the best thing to come out of Nebraska? A: Interstate 80.
Thinking of this joke the other day while I explained to Mike the Colorado-Nebraska rivalry, I exclaimed, “I mean, can anything good come out of Nebraska?” Thinking instantly of John 1:46, Mike responded “Chris, Jesus was from Nebraska.”
Now that will take some time to get used to.