Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Meanness & Its Conquest

The post below was prompted by concerns from others regarding the potential consequences of having allowed myself to be quoted in today’s article in Redding’s local paper, The Record-Searchlight. One friend commented regarding the backlash: “I just know its gonna get very uncomfortable. People are mean. Just plain mean.” I don’t dispute that fact. I am simply seeking to deny its influence on my decisions and dedication. Maybe the following will help you do that, too.


From prior comments to the earlier Record-Searchlight reports of [former Simpson University President] Dr. McKinney's retirement, to personal e-mails and messages from those who are certain that I've caused irreparable harm (and committed damnable heresy, according to one) by addressing issues "above my pay-grade," and including relatively direct threats to my employment from HR, the Provost's office, and--if I read his memo correctly--the interim president, I think I can speak with some authority on "mean."

As a child, I lived next door to the dog universally feared by everyone in the neighborhood. An immense Saint Bernard, he had been left at the mercy of the only son in the family. It seemed at times (even to my limited seven year-old perceptions) that the kid next door wanted to see how extremely the dog could be injured and still survive. He was apparently unaware that the dog would rather quickly grow to outweigh him by nearly one hundred pounds (even as emaciated as he was allowed to become).

I still pity that poor animal. But if I were there, next to that fence, as an adult, I would still feel justified in respecting the likely outcome of any direct encounter with the dog. I can blame the child, the parents, the adult neighbors who had greater perspective than I did, or any number of other psycho-social factors. But while there is no such thing as a bad dog, this Saint Bernard's reasonable expectation of human beings was that they would harm him badly, should he ever allow them to get close to him. He sought to prevent that. I would never dare try.

For some, the moral of the story, especially in the context of the (probably accurately) perceived dangers of speaking the truth in love (and allowing myself to be quoted as having done so), should be that we are right to distance ourselves, remain silent, and allow the continued degradation of a sin-damaged world to take its unnatural course. I come to a different conclusion (obviously, if you’ve read the article).

In serving the Lord who chose to dwell among such dangerous creatures as we all are, to subject in Himself to all the weakness and temporality we possess, even to the point where He allowed Himself to be murdered by those He had shown the greatest love toward...I (and others) have chosen to get "chewed on."

The cost, if compared with what we truly hold dearest, is inconsequential. The cost, if compared with what has been provided to each of us at Another's expense, is laughable. The benefit, however, is unlikely to accrue to any of us personally.

If there is repentance, confession, forgiveness, and restoration in the Christian community that exists within and around Simpson (or even in the official structures themselves), it will be a result of Another's work, for which we--I believe strongly--will have been tools in the hands of that Mastercraftsman. 

Should we survive (in our jobs, careers, etc.), we should remember that even the most durable implements only remain useful by frequent resharpening--grinding away previously useful portions in order to make what remains more effective. That said, some of those same tools only serve to bind the parts of a structure more firmly when some of the material is sawn, chiseled, drilled, or planed away as well.

In short, we serve in hopes of “restoring integrity in the church by encouraging a culture of repentance,” despite the fact that some of us may no longer be a part of that community when the remodeling is completed. 

Be that as it may, “we are responsible for following Christ; He is responsible for the results and/or consequences.”


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bill. As I was going through something similar once, I wrote to some involved, "No one likes conflict, but Christians--above all--should love conflict resolution." I pray that resolution and repentance will come in great (if imperfect) measure.
Charlie Metzger

Wm. Darius Myers said...

Thanks, Charlie. I appreciate the comment and the prayerful pursuit of grace, mercy, and peace. The Matthew 18 Protocol we've previously discussed provides for resolving conflict (in the sense of bringing into sharper focus the actual issues at hand) and reconciling relationships (among persons and within groups and organizations as well). I believe that much of the splintering that has occurred in the body of Christ is a direct result of disobeying Jesus' teaching in that passage.

Read Across America at Burney Elementary School: A Seussian Story

First grade teacher Ginny Casaurang leads her students in an exercise to sort real and imaginary words into two lists as they await their ...