Artificial Distinctions and the Family of God

From the moment he realized this Amory resented social barriers as artificial distinctions made by the strong to bolster up their weak retainers and keep out the almost strong.

This Side of Paradise p. 34

The “this” Amory resented were the cliques that formed at Princeton, which sought to insulate their members from outside interaction. Amory called these distinctions artificial. Hardly any of us are immune from such. This wasn’t social barriers based on race or even necessarily wealth. It was based on prior associations and then, to a lesser extent, people to be used to keep the clique intact. 

Princeton, a clique in and of itself—as Amory will see in the next to the last scene in the novel—was full of its own cliques, young men jockeying for position in a world where position meant something. 

Amory is going to come to resent social barriers even more as they will continually leave him on the outside—with more at stake than just being in the in-crowd at Princeton. And so it is no surprise that in that next to the last scene—a ride back to Princeton by a wealthy individual when Amory is penniless—that Amory finds himself promoting Socialism to the one who was able to give him a ride: oh, the irony. 

And Amory is not alone. We all want to belong, and our pride demands we belong to the right set. That is why the gospel is the best news. The barriers have been brought down. Belonging is assured. There is no need to jockey for position. Rich and poor, this high school and that high school, Mexican and Korean: the table has been set and you are invited to come and sit at the king’s table with others who sought to inhabit different cliques but now by faith in the death and resurrection of Christ are truly one with each other—brothers and sisters in the family of God, no longer hungry to keep out the almost strong. 

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