Thursday, March 30, 2006

Not quite restored to sanity

I had a lot of fun with the posting on "why men should not be ordained." I ended up forwarding the link to about 20 or 30 ladies I know - most of whom got a tee-hee out of it. I did get two significantly negative responses to the post, however.

The first one was of a type I've come to recognize in the blogosphere. The subject line of the email said simply "Shame! Shame!! SHAME!!!" (and that was the nicest thing it said to me, to be honest). The author, who I did not know, poured out an incredible pile of vituperation and invective, questioning everything from my faith in Christ to my "apparent lack of masculine endowment." (Evidently she's been peeking...)

The email ended, as these things always seem to end, with a bold declaration concerning Where I Am Going To Spend Eternity, how it is I will end up There, and how good it will be for the author and all the faithful to hear my screams of torment while I burn for all time Down There.

I deleted it.

But then came a brief missive from a woman who is a friend of a friend, a person who has been extraordainarily helpful to me on a number of occasions. She wrote:
I know you mean well...but if I want to read what you want to put out, I'll read it on your blog (yes, I do have it bookmarked).

I won't inflict you with my beliefs if you promise not to demean mine...
That bothered me more than the declaration concerning Where I Am Going To Spend Eternity, to be honest. (After all, absent the saving power of Christ, that's old news anyway...)

So, by way of apology to anyone else whose beliefs I offended, I share with you what I wrote to her:
Thank you for your note.

You are right - I did "mean well," in the sense of wanting to share some humor, and an alternative view too rarely shared on a particular topic.

I'm sorry if my desire to share some humor was seen as either self-importance or pomposity. You've heard enough about me from our mutual friend to know that they are both character defects I struggle with.

I never intended to
inflict any belief on you, and I would never intentionally demean anyone or anything - having been on the receiving end of that treatment way too many times in my life.
And I promised not to darken her inbox with my missives again, and apologized for offending her.

It never ceases to amaze me how, despite all the progress I think I have made, that I can impact people so negatively with just a few words. I keep praying for God to restore me to sanity - and I believe that God can do that.

It just doesn't seem like God has made much progess on those gentle requests, yet.

11 comments:

Deanne said...

Steve,
You are so quick to assume that you acted in error; that you were wrong to forward something that you thought people would find amusing. Maybe the person who had a problem with what you sent to her is the one with the issues?

Don't be so quick to kick yourself. You are a ray of sunshine for most people you come into contact with - don't forget that!!

reJoyce said...

I'm a lurker here, but I'm coming out of lurk-dom here for nanoseconds to say that I agree with Deanne's comment. Don't be so hard on yourself.

Grace and peace.

Rick said...

Hey brother,

Some people don't like their buttons pressed but rarely ever stop to consider that they are the ONES EXPOSING thier buttons.

We have to look at why we are offended. The reality is, if the lady was truly offended by the post then it really is all about her. She wants to BLAME you for something she is unwilling to work out in her own life.

Honestly, sometimes folks just need to get over themselves. I doubt God was offened.

Rick said...

I just wrote a post about pressing buttons. I guess you could say that my button is those who don't like having their buttons pressed.:)

dudehead said...

my present screen saver message:

"whoever is upsetting me most is my greatest teacher."

I hope you will go a little easier on yourself...

isabella mori said...

hi there

i agree with the other posters.

what intrigues me is - what does it mean to "inflict" a belief on someone? it conjures up an image of capture and wounding. i'm thinking of the windows of the scientology church into which i used to be able to see clearely from my office window in toronto, many years ago. i could see two or three people literally ganging up on a person, physically cornering that person and talking to/at them (i was told later on that that is a somewhat typical practice).

THAT is what i call inflicting beliefs.

now perhaps forwarding this on to people whose reactions you weren't 100% sure of wasn't the height of diplomacy or delicateness - but hey, how much pussyfooting do you want to do? how much pussyfooting does your higher power want you to do?

forwarding this email can, in my opinion, at most only be construed as, well, an opinion, a point of view. i would be interested to know how the recipient of your email saw that as her beliefs being demeaned.

i am, however, thankful for your willingness to reflect on this. this is what we need in this world.

love and peace
isabella

provoked said...

I must say that I thought you did well with your response, I would have probably engaged in an exercise of futility. And, also, I may be a bit short in the masculine endowment myself simply because I thought it was funny. *whispering* Just don't tell my wife. *whispering*

wilsonian said...

If we only ever talk to people who share our beliefs, or only ever read things we agree with... we never get the opportunity to examine what we believe... sift it, shake it around a bit, see what still sticks.

And for what its worth... this gal thinks its hillarious!

Poor Mad Peter said...

Deanne's on the money, Steve man.

Michael said...

Well, I don't read your e-mail (barely manage my own), but I am not sure what in that post was supposed to demean something anyone believes. Pointing out apparent absurdity does not demean a belief system if that system is in fact not absurd.

People poke all sorts of fun at my faith (Catholic) without me ever feeling that it demeans my faith. Often the humor is based on ignorance or misunderstanding, but I get the joke, even if its assumptions are wrong.

Sometimes the humor is based on actual incongruities in Catholic practice. What can I say? If we can't laugh at ourselves because we refuse to see the truth, then we have a much bigger problem than someone else's idea of a joke.

As I said, I don't read your e-mail, and the ladies who were negative may have pointed out specifically why the humor offended them. You recently told me a story about a teacher who said something witty that unintentionally seriously hurt a student in the class. So you and I both know that attempts at wit sometimes fall flat or worse. We apologize, promise to be more sensitive and everyone gets on with the real business of life.

Which has more to do with laughter than not. Humor still has its place, and is much gentler than a lot of what passes for Christian charitable speech.

ugpbn -- sadness mixed with perplexity when good intentions go awry

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

I agree - your response may not have been necessary. It was, however, gracious, kind and yes, gentle, and for that you are to be commended. I'm so very impressed largely because I know how difficult this is to do sometimes.

You sir, are an inspiration.