Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Have Been Pondering Something

I have been pondering something.

This year or at least the last couple of months I have had some people who disagree with me on what I have written… or rather what they presupposed me to have written.

Let me explain:

I have no problem with someone disagreeing with me. In fact I find it a great opportunity for myself and the other person to get to know each other, and talk it out. I have found God works out the “disagreement”. Often it is not that we disagree, but only that we are standing at either end of the topic. And with that it can take time to see that we agree but express it differently.

Sometimes in the course of conversing my mind may change, and though I don't go back and change the post, if one follows the conversation they will see, out of the conversation, development out of the original post. Does that make sense?

I am first to acknowledge that I often do not respond and often react. In that please remember I am only human! LOL! Really I have come a long way from where I was.

My issue is with those who come not to converse and discuss a ‘disagreement’ but rather come with the idea that they are all right and I am all wrong… just because they see “PM/E/e” somewhere. It seems to not matter at that point what I say. I am an apostate to them in my association as an “emerging”.

To me their argument is like this.

“I have just read, Nevada has recently declared it illegal to let your child sit on your lap while you drive. The law now states that for the child’s safety, the child must be restraint in a car seat in case of an accident. Though I love my child and love to let them sit on my lap I see that it should be illegal to let your child sit on your lap in the car while driving in any state.”

Now, I have found that if I said that the accusation from someone would be. “That iggy just said that he supports the state to not allow children to sit on their parents lap.”

Then quote me like this:

“Though I love my child and love to let them sit on my lap I see that it should be illegal to let your child sit on your lap.”

Which I did say, but it is then taken and put into a new context and then twisted to mean something I never said at all… then I say, “I never said that, I said, “Though I love my child and love to let them sit on my lap I see that it should be illegal to let your child sit on your lap in the car while driving in any state.” Which is replied with, “You are a lair!”

I agree that in the “new context” that was created, that I am then a lair… but not in the original context. LOL!

The next thing I found is that the argument is then around me being a lair or not! Here are some reasons for that. I think there is much wisdom here.

I found this article in which Brian McLaren points out some reasons this happens.

I will just give an excerpt here I really recommend reading the whole interview:

“Darren King: It is no secret that you have your fair share of critics. I think many of us realize that your critics often misrepresent you and your beliefs. I'm wondering if you could offer some insight as to why and how this misrepresentation takes place? How can those of us within the conversation be on guard against doing the same thing to others?

Brian McLaren: It's great you ask that last question, because I'd be more sad to see those of us who share this connection to respond inappropriately than I would to see the unfair criticism increase. As I said earlier, this is a real temptation that I and many face right now. I hope people will pray for me, and for all of us. Even if we avoid being overtly defensive or aggressive, it's too easy to become passive aggressive or to let the jabs come out in some sideways fashion. Lord, have mercy.I also think you're wise to ask why so much of the criticism is so inaccurate. It's good to try to understand the causes of things like this - and not just react. Let me do a brain dump of some of the reasons that come to mind, in no particular order. And it's important to say that I don't present these as diagnoses of any particular individual - just as general possibilities. And we're not talking about legitimate questions and dialogue, even vigorous debate: we're talking about the mean-spirited stuff that causes critics to make wild statements that even their friends would say are over the top.

1. Sometimes, I or others have not spoken charitably or wisely enough, and people have felt criticized or attacked, so they have responded with counterattack. In these cases, I am reaping bad fruit from sowing bad seed, and the pain of their unfairness can lead me to repent for any times I'm unfair.

2. Many religious communities feel under threat. Their numbers are declining. Their young people are leaving. Money is down. When any individual or organization feels threatened, it's easy to become testy, grouchy, or mean-spirited.

3. These stressed communities might love us if we offered the three easy steps to keeping their young people, or to bringing in lots of the unchurched. But when they listen to us, we tell them we don't think there are three easy steps. We tell them needed change will require deep rethinking and hard work and some pain. Some of them don't want to hear this, so there's probably a reaction to complexity and unwanted news that causes pain and creates a pained response.

4. Many of these folks, I think, have been trained unconsciously to work by fear. Fear (along with guilt) is a primary means of motivation in many religious communities - the fear of being rejected, corrected, looked down upon, or called "liberal" or some other epithet. It's weird to see "emergent" now become an epithet for these folks! When some of their young people - maybe their sons and daughters - are attracted to what we're doing, they understandably wish they would stay "in the fold," so to speak. So, they attack a few of us to make their flock be afraid of associating with us. It's a survival thing, I guess. In that case, the criticism is not even aimed at us: it's aimed at those in their fold who might leave or question things or work for change.

5. Many of the harshest critics come from fundamentalist religious traditions where hot and inaccurate rhetoric is acceptable whenever doctrinal matters are in play. That's just the way certain kinds of fundamentlists do business, and they have done so for centuries - Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, whatever. They've been trained in it, almost as a form of discipleship. They may even enjoy it, like an art form or sport. And they feel they are serving God when they do it, so it gets passed on from generation to generation. You can't blame people for this, since it's almost instinctual.

6. Some critics are playing to their constituency. They aren't trying to educate or correct us. After all, if they wanted to be heard, they're smart enough to know they should take more care to be accurate and charitable. But they're writing to show their strength and boldness and maybe their rhetorical cleverness to their community, proving themselves to others, or perhaps to themselves.

7. Some of them have never read or listened to us, but are reacting based on hearsay. So, they believe what they were told, and they're passing it on, since they trust the people who told them.

8. Some of it is just plain old sin, but sin of a particularly religious sort. Some famous person once said, "For bad people to do bad things, you just need an opportunity. For good people to do bad things, you need religion."

9. Some people are probably acting out of sociological or psychological scripts they don't even understand.

10. More significant than any of the previous possibilities though, there's some work in "systems-sensitive leadership" that I've found very helpful. The main book (of that title) is out of print and unavailable, but the idea is that people think and behave in the context of thinking systems. At certain levels - there are eight levels in the book I'm thinking of - people respond to perceived threat or disturbance with physical violence. At higher levels, the violence progresses to verbal, and eventually, of course, moves beyond violence altogether. Back in the Inquisition era, and even in the Reformation era, there was a lot of physical violence in response to doctrinal differences. So it's progress if the worst we get is some name-calling! And if we can respond with grace and good humor, perhaps we'll help our religious communities to move to some higher levels.”

Again, I have no issue if someone disagrees with me. If one looks at the links I have one will find people who regularly do not agree with me! Like Dan Carter, who in the course of discussion on our disagreements I have found to be very generous and Gracious.

I heard a quote which I am not sure where it came from, but it goes something like this.

“If two people agree totally on every point on everything, one of them is not necessary.” With that my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I do believe you all necessary for Christ Himself found value in you, enough to die for you, and then to rise again and give you Life Eternal!


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