“So I said, ‘Who has gold?’ And they took off their jewelry and gave it to me. I threw it in the fire and out came this calf.” –AAron (Exodus)
I recently found myself in hot water (again) on account of the fact that I made some comments in a comment-thread on a public forum…I won’t give out the name of the forum, but it starts with Face and ends in tears…
This happens to me from time to time, a fact which might lead some of you to think: “Why do you even engage?” I do it because I like the exchange…I like the back and forth, I only find out afterward that some folks don’t…but maybe you’re right.
This particular exchange was predicated on the sharing of a link, the clicking of which sent one to this blog post, written by a pastor named Mark Barrett. Pastors’ blogs, with a few rare exceptions needed to prove the rule, are the internet’s version of car-seat instructions: generally filled with what most similarly-minded folks would consider common-sense; but, “hey I have a computer and a little free-time, so…why not?”
I’ll leave you to determine whether or not Pastor Barrett’s “review” holds water. But it straight-up pissed me off on a visceral level. Now I’m not saying that this post was the most misogynistic, condescending writing I’ve ever had the misfortune of receiving from the mind of a conservative evangelical. But, what I am saying is–that when I read a paragraph that includes ideas like: ” What became apparent to me very quickly was that this book is written primarily for women. That was clear by the emotionally-charged language and the overzealous and abundant use of adjectives.”–I am not inclined to slow-clap and say: “Good point, Archie, but while you were running your Pork-hole, Edith forgot to make us coffee, so should I bitch-slap her, or are you gonna regulate this situation?”
And while I was dubious about the good pastor’s intentions, and–eventually–his intellect (I believe my exact phrasing was: ” Oh I just realized that Pastor Barrett’s first language might not have been English…I’m an asshole, but even I don’t punch kids in wheelchairs…at least I haven’t in the last three weeks.”), this was not the main issue.
Nor was the most important issue: the backseat brazier-fumbling of a pastor trying his level-best to “protect” “his” “flock” from “dangerous” ideas…an over-reach that is visited upon congregants who seem all too readily available for emotional manipulation, the reasons for which I can understand, but have little patience. I am no fighter…I did a little fighting in school; generally with poor showings, and (almost) always in defense of myself, or others, against bullies. I’m not a big fan of bullies, and while I am physically diminutive, I can be a bad-ass muther-fucker on the page (to adopt the nomenclature of: “the kids”) these two facts about me earned Pastor Barrett the following list of questions in the comments’ section of his blog (they’re still awaiting “moderation”; his, not mine): (Note: These were not the comments written in the comments’ thread of the Facebook post.)
Pastor Barrett, are women allowed to speak and have their heads uncovered in your church? (this one was just a light-hearted joke…a left jab in a sparring match…a test of just how literally he interprets Paul [the late apostle; both to the party, and in life])
Also, what is it about the human vagina, in your opinion*, that makes one unable to write without extraneous use of emotion and/or adjectives? (like I said: his insensitive words about female writers and readers pissed me off a bit)*the phrase: “in your opinion” was not in the original question, it was what I meant, but I didn’t catch its omission until after I’d clicked “submit”
Additionally*, is it your position that the author of Hebrews was trying to convey the idea that there is no other revelation aside from that of Christ? (the context of his paragraph seemed to be using Hebrews 1:1-2 as the proof-text for his idea that God is no longer in the business of handing out “revelation”…now, you can believe what you’d like about God’s involvement with ongoing revelation to man, but don’t drag the writer of Hebrews into it…this text was clearly meant to include Christ in the pantheon of former revelators…it is the acme of eisegetical-assholery to impose a message of finality with it.)* the word “additionally” was actually “also” in the original phrasing
Finally, if one were to pray for discernment, and–hypothetically–received said discernment, what–if not revelation–would one call said discernment? (splitting hairs? maybe. valid points sometimes do that.)
The worst part was that: nobody spoke to the questions I raised about Pastor Barrett’s wisdom. I was accused by a woman (w/ an unhealthy reliance on emoticons) of not being a Christian…or at least not a Bible-believing Christian (a distinction that is absolutely as manipulative as it sounds). I was accused, via text, by a dear friend, of hi-jacking another dear friend’s ( and first dear friend’s wife) Facebook post (a charge that I still cannot comprehend…this wasn’t locked away in some armored-car from which I–a masked bandit–extracted it, on a cold and darkened stretch of hi-way, and exploited it for my own pleasure; it was a shared link on a social-media site upon which I commented). Then, after everyone took their shots at what I had to say, again never calling into question the veracity of my claims only the audacity of my actions; the whole thing was erased.
An evangelical pastor spoke, a dissenter of said pastor’s ideas commented, said commenter was reprimanded, then the whole ugly business was scrubbed from the record. I apologized to my friends for causing them frustration (I guess that’s the best way to put it), I didn’t mean for anyone to get upset…Hell, I didn’t expect that anyone would get upset. I couldn’t apologize for my actual actions, I didn’t (and still don’t) think I’d done anything wrong. Mayhaps that’s a bit obtuse; but that’s all it is…and I’m confident that that sin is forgivable.
One afternoon, after spending a bit of time talking to God–who was costumed as an inconsumable brush-fire, Moses came down to where the rest of his peeps had been awaiting his news. They’d somehow fashioned an idol out of gold. Moses, having laid eyes upon said idol, lost his shit. There was a time when these types of idols were shaped like: (and I’m just spit-balling here) baby cows and the like.
Now we have taken to shaping them like: portly, bearded, bespectacled, balding, sometimes-all-of-the-above men–who boast larger libraries than literary sense…