Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reflections on "Blogfrontation"

It's been over a week since the controversy started and what a fascinating little journey it's been.

Some of you might not know how the process started for me or what was going on in my brain as the whole thing went down. Some of you might not care. That's fine. I just thought it might be my turn for a little soul searching.

For me, it started a little before the actual open letter. I had looked at a few of his initial posts and thought the paths he was going down might be worth addressing. So, without naming names, I typed up this little post and called it a day.

I was surprised at the positive feedback, but thought that would pretty much be the end of it. It was then that a close friend that I love and trust pointed out the public nature of what was being said in these blogs. He pointed out that it just might be fair game to address our friend in question directly and to respond point by point.

I kept the idea in mind and jotted a few things down, but really wasn't sure if I was up for the conflict. The motive measuring began. The pros and cons of being "the discernment blogger" began to bounce around in my head. I knew some people would retweet me. Some people wouldn't shy away from a nasty comment here and there. I knew my ego would get stroked and swatted at.

When I was about ready to say "why bother," I was informed that "the big post" had just been written. I was given some info about the content while I was at work. If what I was told was close to being true, I knew the time had come. When I finally sat and took it all in, my heart began to beat faster, my hands began to shake. My motives, which were certainly mixed, ceased to be the issue.

My open letter was written and posted within a few hours...

For the most part, the feedback was positive, though I mostly hoped that the man I was writing to would have something to say himself. No such luck... at least not yet... at least not directly.

When his initial reply to all his feedback was posted, I was pretty surprised that he didn't even begin to touch on the objections I'd made. "Oh well," I thought, "maybe it's just egotistical to think my objections are the ones people should be focusing on... I'm sure someone else has said the same stuff to him."

Nevertheless, I still thought some people might need some help sifting through his ideas, so I wrote up a quick response to his second post and called it a day. This one came much easier and didn't have nearly the amount of emotion behind it.

Over the following days, my predictions came to pass. My ego was stroked by some. Some nasty remarks were made by others. I questioned my motives at times. I felt pretty darn good at other times. I never really questioned whether I had done the right thing, but that didn't make it any less difficult to figure out how to feel.

On one particular night, I became surprisingly frustrated. I had seen some positive results of what I'd done, but I had also seen some people speak of the blogs I was addressing as if they were just what the church needed. Even though I had questioned my own methods and tone multiple times, I knew then and I know now that this isn't true. I'd seen this kind of writing throughout college and even into the present, and I knew what it meant for the local church. I knew it had to be addressed.

In my frustration, I thought maybe I should get the message across another way. So I pieced together a comic summarizing what I had already tried to say (just with a more satirical edge) and posted it. THAT's when the whatnot hit the fan. I was called some nasty names. I was told that the devil was winning. I tried to defend what I'd done... I probably still could since I find satire to be a biblical category. That didn't matter... deep down I felt pretty foul. There were enough people who agreed with my point but were much more grieved than angry over the present situation. It was for them that I removed the comic.

To this day I continue to have conversations with invisible people in my head. One blog comment... leads to a response... leads to a back and forth in my head that lasts for hours.

Me: "they can't talk to you like that! You're a seminary grad!"

Other Me: "Cut it out... this isn't about a piece of paper... just think about what they're saying."

Other other me: "But if I take that kind of response seriously, then truth has no meaning!"

Other other other me: "I think I want a sandwich"

Whether you believe me or not, this kind of process leaves me more drained than energized. Whatever it looked like, It turns out I don't thrive on conflict. I really just want people to have the light of truth turn on for them. I want them to know that light of truth does exist. That "AHA!" moment is really what I long to see in peoples' eyes.

Since the blogs have been written I've been contacted directly by the blogger in question. We may get together and talk sometime soon. I still pray and hope for his repentance. No, I've never changed my mind about whether that's what he needs.

For those I've helped, I was happy to oblige. Take the truth you've gained and spread it with the love God has commanded you to walk in.

For those I've offended, I hope it was mainly for the right reasons. If you didn't like my tone, you may or may not have a point. God will have to judge my heart. My advice to you is that you do your best to find the points I was trying to make and wrestle with them. I'm just a struggling sinner who's learned some stuff over the years... and yeah I think some of it's true. If certainty is the worst sin I can be accused of (I'm sure it's not), then I can live with that.

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