My husband is known for saying, “It’s all about angles.” Whether trying to sink a basket on the court or not fall down the stairs, he’s right. In my classroom, we start every semester naming our Social Locations, our “angles” from which we experience the world. Even though this takes three class periods, I find the investment of time to be utterly worth it once we can all name and acknowledge how our identities affect the way we perceive information in the classroom.
You know that story about the people who approach a giant elephant in the dark? There are many versions of this parable, but I remember it being about each person being bounded in their ability to perceive the entire animal because the elephant was so large, it was dark, and each person is limited in their senses. Likewise, I have come to believe that each of us comes to the big questions of like at an angle. Some of us are experts on the tail of the beast, while others know about the trunk. Neither is wrong, but neither is completely right.
Maybe the most difficult thing about admitting our angles is that it requires us to admit our limitations. We can’t know all of life or all of God. We are humans, and it is the nature of humans to be limited. Though there may be one truth, none of us is large enough in our human capacities to behold this truth in its beautiful entirety.
Rather, I feel called to dig down deep into my own particular location and sink into the roots of who I am. It’s part of the reason I still call myself Catholic. There is a lot of good, helpful spiritual stuff in Catholicism that I feel like I haven’t exhausted yet.
At the same time as I plumb the depths of my location, I feel God calling me to marvel at the variety of experiences we are all having as humans on earth. Also, in humility, I must name and address ways in which my very being is an attack on others (I drive a car, pay taxes that buy bullets for government agents to shoot at people, people who look like me have stolen land and culture from others, to name a few).
So, what is it about your angle that delights or frustrates you?