An Ode to Delightful Complexity

So, in a world where square pegs are being rammed fruitlessly at round holes and we must suffer the scraping pull of being painted with broad strokes, it is worthy I think to remember complexity, particularly human complexity, which defies neat categorization and mass denigration.

I give you my father. Raised on a farm in North Dakota, he grew up with a love for shooting good guns, driving fast cars, and he wore sneakers with the stars and stripes on them. He worked in lumberyards first in North Dakota, and then, when I was a tot, in Montana.

He is quiet about his faith, but it is deep. He eschews social media and technology as a whole as much as he can. He loves the smell of wood, his labrador dogs, watching the wildlife on the 80-some acres in the mountains where he lives with my Mom, and meat and potatoes three meals a day. He collects and restores old firearms, but doesn’t hunt much anymore as he gets so much more satisfaction out of watching the wildlife.

He’s been a lifelong Republican and a classic conservative. He isn’t loud about it; he isn’t loud about anything really. He’s not to be found standing on soap boxes and holding sway.

But hear this: he’s telling everyone to get vaccinated. He wore masks, he social distanced (okay, that was easy for him on 80 acres with an introvert personality), and as soon as he could, he got his shots. He called us kids up and asked if we’d gotten ours. Despite his reserved and unflowery nature, he is basically shouting his love for us. As he told me over coffee last week, “These people are afraid of ‘experimental vaccines’, but you know what? If you get sick with the virus, are you going to refuse experimental drugs to save your life?”

So…a conservative, gun-loving Republican is encouraging his loved ones to get vaccinated. I think he just jumped out of some boxes.


Like my pro-choice atheist friend who made me a remembrance necklace for my miscarried child. Like my xenophobic friend who made sure we had meat on our table during a hard time.

If you’ve ever commented on a post of mine and had a hearty argument with one of my friends, you may be perplexed at the, um, diversity of opinion, the colorfulness of the language, and the varying quality of civility expressed there. I’ve been asked many MANY times “Why are you friends with so-and-so?!?”

I will tell you. Complexity. The glory of God shines out of each person so strongly that their weaknesses, their brokenness; well, they cannot compete with that light. I’d have to ignore so very much good in order to focus on the shadows, and even then, haven’t I cracks, flaws, and darkness too?Let us hold tenaciously to encountering each human as complex, not as a deplorable, a libtard, a leftist, a Trumpophile, etc.

Meet every person you meet.

My father at 18.