If you’ve read much on my blog at all, you’ve probably noticed I’m a promoter of peace. I encourage people to look at all sides of an issue and strive for healthy dialogue. You’ll see on my “About This Blog” page, that one of my goals from the start was to bring people “to the table” and let their voices be heard. Among the six goals I list for the blog is the following:
Conversation – I believe the best solutions come when we do life in community. Whether we’re looking for answers to global problems, theological debates, or just day-to-day conundrums, we’ll take a look at varying opinions and develop an ear to really listen and hear what others think and feel about the issues at hand. Open-mindedness and civility will be part of our core values, but that doesn’t mean we’ll tip-toe around the issues.
Tonight I’m wondering why I’VE been tip-toeing around the issues that are very important to me. Why am I not really letting MY voice be heard?
I can come up with several answers that sound good on the surface. For instance, I’ve kind of prided myself on the fact that as much as I’ve written on the topic of Ferguson/Mike Brown (nine posts), I’ve not tipped my hand to let people know where I stand on the particulars of the situation. In this case, I’ve viewed myself more as the moderator than the debater. But I do have some definite opinions on the matter (get ready, they’re coming below).
Then there’s the issue of gender equality. As a woman pastor, I have experienced much opposition, discrimination and even hateful behavior in my life. And yet, I have only one post in the category of gender issues here. For that, I really have no excuses.
After writing those last two paragraphs, it seems obvious to me why my blog has not accomplished the goal of creating the dialogue I had hoped. How can I expect others to be comfortable expressing their opinions if I’m not comfortable expressing my own? So, with no more ado, here’s my list of controversial things I’ve wanted to say on my blog but haven’t. It’s a partial list, but it’s a start.
1. “Stop snitching” is no different than cops covering for cops. If you hate one you have to hate the other. If you oppose one, you have to oppose the other. If you protest against one, you have to protest against the other. They are the same thing. Both hide the truth. Both give preference to the perpetrator over the victim. Both hinder justice.
2. I am sick of the hate mongering of racists and sexists, especially from those who profess to be Christians. You might be a racist or a sexist if …
- The only social media posts you make are about how despicable the “other side” is. Can you seriously not see one valid point your “opposition” is making?
- You post ugly stories about the other gender or another race to justify the ugly stories you see about your own. You don’t post these stories to show how sad the situation is, or to foster discussion with the opposition. You do it to stir up your side in anger. You do it solely to prove this is why your side is “provoked” into doing the ugly things it’s doing.
- Your side has done absolutely nothing wrong, ever.
3. Wal-Mart is not the same as Woolworth. The sit-ins at the Woolworth stores in the 60s made sense. Woolworth had a policy of denying blacks the right to sit and eat at their lunch counters. The sit-ins there showed courage and took action against the actual perpetrator of the injustice. It is not the same with Wal-Mart and the shooting of John Crawford. Wal-Mart just happened to be the location where a terrible tragedy occurred. If you want to stage a protest that actually convinces the other side to hear you out, do it in a location and a manner that makes sense. Shutting down a business that was an “innocent bystander,” and creating loss of income for the employees, only furthers the annimosity of those who are prone to turn a deaf ear to you in the first place.
4. To completely throw your support behind Officer Darren Wilson before all the facts are known is just as incredulous as throwing all your support behind Mike Brown before all the facts are known. Yet, again, both sides see the injustice on the one side, but not on their own. I am flabbergasted.
5. I will not have my “role” in the church, society or home defined by the curse found in Genesis 3. I do not understand how the ONLY result of the curse which is defined as “God’s creative order” or “original plan” is the one line that says man shall rule over woman. In every other aspect of the curse – the serpent will now crawl on its belly, woman will have pain in childbirth, man will have to struggle with the earth to get his food – no one will say those things are God’s original plan or desire. They are all seen as the results of sin and the fallen state. Yet, man’s rule over woman is not? I understand that a full theology of the roles of men and women must encompass the whole of Scripture, but how can we even move on to further discussion if the foundational premise is this flawed?
I was wondering how I was going to conclude this seemingly hodgepodge list post, but as I wrote that last sentence the connection of all the points became clear to me. The basic issue behind all of these controversies is the inability, or unwillingness, of one side to concede ANY point to the other. Likewise, there is a failure to recognize ANY common ground.
One place of commonality for those active in the causes of both gender issues and racial equality is supposedly a call for justice. So, let’s start by talking about justice itself – with open minds and open hearts – with a true desire to have justice for ALL. It might start by asking questions like the following and really listening to the perspective of the other. Where do you feel like I have been unjust? Do I come across as saying justice for me is more important than justice for you? How can we work together more effectively for the cause of justice? What will a just society really look like?
And more specifically in the realm of Christian dialogue on these matters, our common framework is supposed to be the love of Christ. So, the questions to start with might be … How do you feel I have been unloving towards you in this debate? Is our approach to this issue showing Christ’s love towards each other and to the world?
Now that I’ve overcome my hesitations and thrown all this out there in the blogosphere, I’m sure I’ll have some follow-up posts. I hope you will join me at the table today and in the days to come.
Notes/disclaimers/ground-rules before you read this prayer prompt:
1) This kept coming to mind yesterday, but I hesitated to post because I really want it to spark personal prayer and not discussion or debate. So, please, know the purpose is NOT to have you post your responses here, but to ponder your response before the Lord today.
2) Despite yesterday’s hesitations, it continues to come to mind, so I’m posting despite the fact that I’m not really sure about it.
3) This is not meant to promote any one position over another. It is meant as a prompt for each of us to lay our own hearts bare before the Lord.
So, with all that said, here’s the prayer prompt:
If it was actually possible for the truth of what happened in the Michael Brown shooting to be revealed with absolute certainty, but the truth was contrary to what you have been prone to believe … if that were the case, how would you FEEL? I’m not asking whether you would doubt the outcome. Remember, in this hypothetical scenario, the truth has been proven without a shadow of a doubt. I’m asking how you would feel if the truth was contrary to your current presuppositions.
Would you feel glad and relieved that truth was found and justice served? Would you be disappointed that this case no longer served an agenda you promote? How might your heart be changed? Could your heart be changed? How would you feel towards the people “on the other side” of the issue? Would you desire to tag on a “yeah, but …”?
Wondering if maybe this prayer approach will let us know if our hearts are truly seeking truth and justice … or something else.
Holy Spirit, please guide us into all truth (John 16:1-15) – especially to the truth in our own hearts.
Well, it looks like we have our first debate on this blog. Yay! I love a good debate. I think it helps us all come to balance on a topic when we see and understand opposing viewpoints – not necessarily agreement, but balance.
So, what’s the big hot button issue we’re going to tackle right out of the gate? Whether or not I should use the word “novel” when telling about the book I’m writing.
I suppose that’s a good place to dip our toes in the water and see if we want to jump in further. It falls under the category of “day-to-day conundrums” I listed in my first blog post as possible points of conversation. Seems like a safe place to test the ground rules of open-mindedness and civility before diving into things like global problems or theological issues.
So, here’s the basic dilemma:
Typically, a novel has been defined as a fictitious story of book length, written in narrative form. More recently (especially since Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood), some have come to call works of narrative non-fiction novels. These works read like novels and the authors write with the same considerations of a novelist (developing plot and character, making decisions about the role of the narrator, etc.). The only difference, and the bone of contention, is that one is fiction and one is not.
While this topic may not seem to matter much (it didn’t to me when someone first brought it to my attention), I suppose I do need to come to a conclusion before proceeding further with book proposals to publishers or posting even more about my “novel” only to be seen as having a lack of understanding of genre. I actually have done some reading on the issue and will post some links at the end of this post for those who wish to do the same.
Here’s where I am at this moment. Following one of my mottos – choose your battles – I’ve changed the wording on the descriptions of my project to say I’m writing a book. That’ll work for now, but I have few hesitations with that.
First off, I feel like I’m writing a novel and to say “book” just seems so generic. Of all the current offerings, there is one description I prefer, but it would be cumbersome to always have to refer to my work as a narrative non-fiction (some use NN for short, but that’s just ugly). Other things like biography or creative nonfiction also don’t seem to fit.
I side with those who view this as a new genre (or at least a revival of an older genre). The goal is to tell a story, not just report the historical facts of a person’s life or an event. In the case of my book, I’m telling the story of a friend who is in witness protection. When I set out to write a book proposal for it, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to utilize the format suggestions for nonfiction proposals. I finally scrapped that approach and used the typical template for a novel. It was a much better fit.
So, I thought I had the matter settled in my mind … until a friend pointed out to me that she was confused because she thought I was writing a true story. When she saw I called it a novel, she figured she must have misunderstood and I was actually writing fiction. This friend is an avid reader, so I value her input. I value yours, too. So, what do you think?
Some articles I found helpful or enjoyable on this topic: