For reasons I cannot quite fathom, I've received public scoldings here and there around the blogosphere for supposedly waging "war" against another blog.
I'd just like to point out that the supposed "feud" has been rather one-sided. I haven't mentioned the blog in question in ages. I've alluded to it exactly twice in the past monthonce when I expressed disgust at a snide and utterly inappropriate remark posted there, and a second time (without even saying whom I was referring to) when I objected to some gratuitous scatology that was posted there.
I won't give a tally of how many times I have been mentioned or held up to ridicule on that blog in the past ten days, except to say that it has been a steady stream of snark. That isn't a "feud"; it's a blitzkrieg.
Some thoughts about all this unpleasantness:
- Can we lay the "It’s a tavern, not a Swiss watch doctrinal precision factory" mantra to rest? In the first place, I don't see how that is supposed to exempt bad theology, bad attitudes, or bad manners from criticism.
In the second place, I generally try to discourage Christians from trying to develop a better understanding of theology by listening in on heavy-drinking armchair-theologians' dialogues anyway. Taverns these days tend to be the worst venues for theological dialogue and Christian fellowship. So I'm not sure how the "it's a tavern" abracadabra is supposed to make aberrant ideas and ungodly words untouchable.
- I have never been deliberately unkind to anyone at the Tavern, including the monk who usually tends bar. My personal interaction with all of those guys has always been friendly and polite. A few of my jokes about them have ruffled feathers, but even in those cases, I did everything possible beforehand to make it obvious that I wasn't entirely serious, and I have never acted out of malice.
On the other hand, every time I have ever expressed any disagreement with anything posted there, it has prompted an angry response and days of retaliatory sneering.
- To my knowledge, not one of the people who routinely expresses outrage about every uncomplimentary remark or criticism directed toward the Tavern has ever once made a similar complaint about the sarcasm, filthy language, and foolish talk that pours forth from there on a nearly daily basis.
- Frank "Centuri0n" Turk accidentally unleashed a firestorm of "PyroManiac" proportions yesterday. Contrary to conjecture that has been publicly posted elsewhere, I did not in any way consult beforehand with Centuri0n about anything he posted, stir him up to post it, dare him to do it, or ask him to do it. (Actually, the person who incurred Mr. Turk's criticism is the one who did all those things himself.)
I'm not going to comment on that controversy, except to say that I believe those who are so absolutely sure that they know Frank's heart and insist that his request for prayer was merely flippant and sarcastic have misjudged him. See John 7:24.
Ironically, some who are most outraged at Frank's supposed irreverence are individuals whose own blogs and comments (especially in their interactions with people who push the limits of sound doctrine) seem beset with a chronic and constitutional inability to be serious about anything that really is serious.
- Well, OK. Here's one more comment about the controversy at Centuri0n's blog: I was glad to learn that I am not the only one who has noticed that the so-called "confessional essays" have become increasingly shrill. And conversely, let me go on record saying that Frank Turk is not the only one who finds them worrisome.
Perhaps I am not empathetic enough. But let me share my heart: Darlene and I don't have prolonged fights about petty issues. If we ever had one, I wouldn't blog about it. I don't think that's appropriate or edifying, much less laudable. (And it's well-nigh blasphemy to compare that kind of drivel with the book of Lamentations.)
I've had my share of pastoral struggles and disappointments, but honestly, I have never once regretted entering the ministry or questioned my calling. If that makes me seem less "authentic" in the eyes of people who have a voyeuristic need to enter vicariously into someone else's angst, I'm sorry. But in all candor, and with no rancor whatsoever, I do sincerely wonder if someone so bitterly disappointed with his own failures, so openly disillusioned with the church, and (by his own testimony) so emotionally fragile really is called to ministry. And my heart has been burdened to pray for him. You want me to be transparent? There it is.
- Finally, some of the patrons at the Tavern have repeatedly and publicly asserted that I "hate" them. For the record, I have never entertained a hateful thought about any of them. If I were even tempted to hate them, I would simply ignore them.
Why don't I just ignore them anyway? Because they insist on airing their criticisms of everything I stand for, replete with links and jeering references back this direction. (They were doing it before I even started blogging.) Meanwhile, the outpouring of complaints every time they are criticized is proof of their influence.
And I really do think much that is posted at their blog is unnecessarily negative toward the church, rooted in a low view of the Scriptures, and detrimental to impressionable readers.
Those concerns are serious. Mere melodrama (a lot of it, too!) has not been sufficient to convince me that it would be appropriate to stifle those concerns for the sake of an artificial pretense of "unity."