Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kind, tender hearted? A Poem.

Kind, Tenderhearted? 
 So my question for American evangelicals in 2016 is, 
What happened to tenderheartedness?
Is it the war in Syria and the fear of attack?
Is it the ease of going on online attack?
Is it the way we choose "friends" online?
And lose them if they get out of line?
What happened to our hearts?
What is wrong in our lives?
What happened to tenderheartedness, Little Christs?

 "And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak." Matthew 12:36 NLT

(See also Ephesians 4-5)

Friday, February 19, 2016

the power of an apology

In the light of recent evangelical and catholic scandals, and the insidious support for popular leaders over victims by high profile people, I have been wondering, do we get to a certain level of influence and then refuse to deal truthfully?  If that is the case, may my following remain small.  In any case, my biggest frustration has been that while I believe in apologizing when I have been inappropriate, unethical, or misinformed, many with influence in the Christian world do not share this standard.  

If we say something highly offensive, digging in our heels is definitely disgraceful, but quietly taking down the post is not enough, especially if many have protested.  There is healing in a frank admission of wrong, that does not minimize nor excuse our own failings.  It can't change what we've done, nor does it require that trust be immediately restored, but it is a healing moment, leading towards reconciliation.  

The power of an apology is that it validates the person we hurt.  

It views them as a person created in the image of God.  If the people of God are to be childlike in innocence and trust, I do think it is childish to refuse to apologize when we cause deep pain to anyone.  The context of victims of sexual abuse and their families is even more so an issue.  Perhaps those who refuse to apologize for their reckless words are afraid of lawsuits.  But do they fear God?  

God's love releases us from fear, and helps us to take responsibility for consequences, knowing we are secure in his love, no matter what.  I don't understand "Christian" obfuscation in the light of the cross, in fact, such a thing is not at all "becoming" of a "Little Christ".  

Humility is the way of the cross, and instead of hiding sins, a humble apology from those who refused to listen to victims, then even misrepresented them, would not go amiss.  Maybe you could lose your ministry, but you will find mercy and be a source of true healing.  That ministry is the power of an apology, and why it matters so much.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#soblockme God?

I am entirely in favor of personal boundaries.  I block liberally on Facebook, which I keep as a safe place, as drama-free as possible among diverse loved ones.  Sometimes people need to be ignored.  Responding might be stressful or unhelpful personally.  Sometimes even good thoughts can be ignored.  Some days it’s just like: 

I get it.  I have some concerns though, if you will hear them, on what I will call the “lalalalala I can’t hear you approach” (otherwise known as blocking dissent on public forums such as twitter):

I don’t think it usually works.  Two words why: Streisand Effect.  

My thoughts:

Here's what happened today, after my response to Tim Fall saying he’d been blocked:

This is a humorous example why I think it is silly to block like that: 

Then this happened the other day, and I spoke up because I get tired of seeing it happen, especially in Christian circles.  People can feel bullied when they are rejected by people with position who make no attempt at dialogue.  (To be fair, in this situation I did personally experience some healthy dialogue.)

My issue is this: should so-called Christian organizations be bastions of freedom and confidence, or places of silencing dissent?  Which is more Christ-like?  For corporations and public figures with a large following, as a private citizen and as a student of communications, I highly recommend that dissent not be blocked, but respected as a moment for creative communication.  

Abuse should be reported and it is right to draw attention to unrelenting evil, but I have observed that the more we respond to it personally, the worse it usually gets.  I think how we individually each deal with abuse and bullying will be (and should be) creatively different according to our different personalities and levels of tolerance.  But my issue here is big names blocking civil disagreement expressed firmly.

If listening to dissent gets annoying, and it is not something you want to engage or deal with right now, I have two more words for us all: Mute Button.  Then at least we aren’t rejecting outright an actual human being.  Every time we reject someone, they are likely to talk about it.  Word does get out, and the little people are no longer voiceless.  

This is why those with influence need to understand: their public online behavior has consequences, just as I understand as an ordinary person that mine does.   

We are all "public figures" in some respect these days, and we all have a say in a free society.  In my opinion, those in power should consider the feelings and respect the humanity of those who interact with them, particularly if they are calling themselves a Christian organization or person.  Think about it: how things look is not everything, but it can tell a story about what we value.

Updated 12/5/16 to include:

(All images found on social media or screenshot on my iPhone.)