In his recently published book, Contact: The Shaping Power of Intentional Interaction, Tyler White seeks to speak words of exhortation and hope in the midst of the current atmosphere of polarized, silo-ed rhetoric.
Contact with people who are different than we are–whether different in age, in culture, or in belief–can be incredibly effective in dissolving stereotypes and giving us a broader perspective than we otherwise would have.
White begins by contemplating how people’s life journeys lead them to being who they are today, then turns his attention to the impact that media has on our opinions of “the other.” Jesus is put forth as the reason we seek intentional interaction despite differences, because he made contact with fallen humans and demonstrated concern and compassion for those who were outsiders while he was on earth. White includes several case studies, both biblical and modern, showing real life examples of intentional interaction despite differences being a positive thing for communities.
A chapter on White’s expertise, crosscultural communication, is included and particularly relevant for readers of this blog. He ends by “reimagining our approach to relationships” using the paradigm of contact across differences, including a frank addressing of the concern that too much contact will lead to wishy-washy relativism.
White’s own interactions with refugees and other immigrants in the United States have been pivotal in shaping his ideas, and these experiences come through in helpful anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book, providing insight and wisdom for other welcomers like us.
Covering biblical, theological, anthropological and practical aspects of the idea of contact across differences, Contact is an encouraging and thought-provoking read for divisive times.
Buy your copy of Contact here!