• M. J. Chrisman

Fence Traveler (pt. 1) Defining Intentions

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Bridge or fence extending into a forest. Photo by Dawson Lovell

Take a second and think about where you are (state, city, bedroom?), when you are (year, day, time?), and who you are—right now, at this moment. What happened on the news today? Who has just taken their last breath, and who has started their first?

Before we can dive into any conversations regarding spiritual, political, or social issues going on in today’s world, we must take an aerial view of:

  • Our spiritual beliefs

  • Our social statuses

  • Our geographical local

  • Our privileges and/or disadvantages

And the thousands of other factors that make us who we are.

Simply put: you cannot be summed up in merely a word, phrase, or picture, and neither can I, because we are complex physical/spiritual, meaning-making beings. I can’t dissect you like an “Operation” board game and say, “Oh, here’s so-and-so’s thoughts on homosexuality,” or “Right here, below the heart, is so-and-so’s beliefs on abortion.”

Why can’t it be that simple? Because to discover who someone is, you must use words, experiences, schemas, and other tools you use to make sense of the world. It is time consuming and messy, but in the end our lives can be enriched by one another.

What do I mean by 'Fence Traveler'?


Man doing a balance walk on a fence with a sunset background.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Stop riding the fence?” It’s always used in a negative connotation, meaning, “There are only two sides, so pick one and stop being indecisive!”

To illustrate, think of a fence cutting between two paths (positions/beliefs), now assign an us-them scenario, like Democrats on the left and Republicans on the right. Or it could be pro-life versus pro-choice, or Christians versus atheists, Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives Matter, capitalism versus socialism, and on and on it goes.

But just like we cannot simply define or categorize people, there are rarely only two sides to a topic/issue. So when I speak of “fence traveling,” I mean rather than just blindly accept binary positions/beliefs/truisms about life, perhaps we can dive into deeper conversations and pursue a third option, another way—a third way? An even crazier idea: what if Christ preached alternative ways of living that simply weren’t binary either? If Christ were here today, in the flesh, would he tell us to be a Democrat or a Republican?


What if when he said, “… small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life” (Matthew 7:14), and “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 5:6), he was describing a third way—one that wasn’t pro-Caesar or pro-Jewish state? A kingdom not of this world, a way of living that brings heaven on earth.

This is what I plan to explore. While my stances on issues will typically fall somewhere on the progressive Christian end of the spectrum, my hope is to take this journey with you. Let’s discuss the complex things of life through the lens of faith and hope for our world and its restoration.

After all, what’s the point of all this if it’s not for the life of the world?

#FenceTraveler #Blog #Spiritual #SocialStatus #Priviledge

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