We all need to eat at Olive Garden more often. Let me explain...
Our country is experiencing polarization, division, lack of understanding across party lines and class lines, and in some corners, real hatred for those with whom we disagree.
The other day I wondered: when was the last time I bumped into someone who thinks very differently than I do? When did I encounter someone of a different class background? Why are we so isolated from our neighbors who live differently than we do?
This summer I read an article in the MIT Sloan School newsletter, which reported on a paper that concluded that people of different classes do NOT mix at churches -- or libraries or public parks. People of varied class backgrounds are NOT encountering one another in community spaces. In reality, we are most likely to mix with people of different socio-economic backgrounds at Olive Garden! And IHOP. And Applebee's.
I found this both profoundly sad and fascinating. It isn't a shared faith that can reach across class lines, but free breadsticks and limitless pasta. It is food that can bridge the divides of rich and poor.
I haven't come to any grand conclusions about this research, but I invite us to reflect on how we as a faith community might get out of our comfort zones, encounter people different from us, expand our compassion, and make a positive difference in our community.