Across the Pastor’s Desk: God appreciates our diversity

Published 8:00 pm Friday, July 28, 2023

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Loren Olson

I am participating in Mayo Clinic research on DNA and health, and one of the perks is that they provided a report of my ancestry if I wished to receive it. It’s not something I would have paid for, assuming my ancestry is unremarkable for a Minnesotan, but it didn’t cost me anything, so why not?

Like many of you, my results confirmed my ancestors primarily came from Scandinavia and Britain. Several small slices of DNA ancestry came from other parts of the world, confirming family lore.

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The thing that struck me was that as ordinary as my heritage would be for this area, my DNA came from three continents and seven of the 26 regions identified by the company. As ordinary as I am, my ancestors lived in diverse places, climates and cultures. My daughter and new granddaughter were visiting when I received the results, and I thought how much more diverse their results could be as you add my spouse’s and son-in-law’s DNA into the mix. When we think about how diverse most

Americans’ ancestral DNA is, it really is absurd to talk about racial or ethnic supremacy.

This is evidence that the rise of racial and ethnic supremacy groups is based on something other than fact or reason. It is based on fear and nonsense. What’s even more nonsensical is that a lot of the white supremacy groups in the United States claim to be Christian. There are Christian doctrines that are debatable and open to interpretation, but it is crystal clear that Christians believe all humans reflect the image of God and all are considered beloved children of God. If one cannot affirm that, it is suspect to call oneself a Christian. The attraction to extremism and conspiracy theories grows at least in part from the belief that someone has information available that the general public does not have. I guess if one just makes stuff up, it is information others do not have.

It is also clear that God enjoys diversity. Throughout nature, and throughout the human community, there is diversity at every turn. It’s something to celebrate and enjoy. Centuries of humans finding ways to thrive and survive on three continents and seven unique ethnic regions led to me with my unique personality, talents and temperament. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.” — Psalm 139:14 NRSV

My ancestral background is wonderful and diverse. My life experiences have been wonderful and diverse. I hope the coming years bring even more opportunities to experience the wonders and diversity of God’s world. Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” always makes me tear up, “The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by.”

Might the rainbow of colors and cultures that we encounter in Albert Lea bring us all a greater appreciation of this wonderful world.

Loren Olson is chaplain at Mayo Clinic Hospice.