You and I are educated, middle aged Christians from central Indiana divided by race. 

On June 26th, I brought my two sons and three of their friends to Clowes Hall on the campus of Butler University in order to attend the premiere of your documentary film titled “Stand”. It was a challenging work that has left a lasting impression on this white guy, but before going any further, you might need to understand a few things about me.

I was raised in a black neighborhood and bused to a white school in Anderson. As an adult, my wife and I have sponsored a Burmese refugee couple, hosted an Indonesian Muslim in our home, and adopted a little girl from Mumbai, India who is now 16 years of age. The day of your premier, I had been taking a friend of my son on a college visit, and he happens to be African-American.

Lest you think I’m some lily-white, left-leaning do-gooder caught up in multicultural self-congratulation, let me set the record straight. I’m a Reagan Republican and a Buckley conservative. To my way of thinking, these facts are not incompatible with a desire to bridge the racial divide. What else are conscientious white folks supposed to do? Sitting in your predominantly black audience, listening to the dialogue that followed the screening, I asked myself that very question.

One way to watch your movie is through the filter of our shared humanity. Another is to notice its many Christian themes – themes of koinonia, struggle, and hope in the conditions of oppression. And since we are roughly the same age (did my kid brother compete against you in the 880 yard run?) we lived through many of the same events depicted on the screen. Nevertheless, this was not my party.

The philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer wrote of the necessity to fuse horizons with those who are different, if we are ever to stand a chance of understanding one another. You and I might never completely bridge that racial divide, no matter how hard we try, yet our common religion enjoins us to try – not for the sake of obliterating our differences, pretending they do not exist, but for the sake of one Gospel.

It is unlikely any of my readers here in Decatur County have ever heard of you. Most of them probably wonder what this open letter is all about. Your documentary was not really designed for us to pick up later on Netflix. What you have created is a message for a different people.

But as someone who occasionally straddles two worlds, working within my daily ambit, I felt obliged to tell you -- as well as my neighbors -- that the film captures an authentic exchange of mature voices trying to make sense of troubling times. If you will accept that level of abstraction, then let me say thank you.

Oh, and one son told me afterwards you resemble Will Ferrell.

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