Friday, July 18, 2008

I Started It, So I Might As Well Try To Do It Right

This quickie post I did last night has attracted a lot more attention than I anticipated. To be honest, I think it's a mish-mash, partly the result of having been written on the fly. I think, however, that have some kind of obligation to move the discussion forward a bit.

We got a bit bogged down in ad hominem amateur-hour psycho- and sexual-analysis of Neil, something I tend not to like on principle (and, yes, I did some of it, too; doesn't make me so much a hypocrite as human). Yet, considering Neil's well-mannered, thoughtful, in-depth, and honest response, I think we have done remarkably well trying to keep the whole subject on track.

In order to do so, however, I am strapping on my virtual, rhetorical Kevlar and wading in to the thick of Neil's territory. Specifically, this comment, which I shall reprint in full, without additions or subtractions, without interspersed commentary (one of the minor annoyances of Neil's), and with the link above provided just so he can't get all upset and claim I didn't post the whole comment:
ER, Alan and Geoffrey,

Thanks for making my day. I’ve been laughing on and off since clicking on the incoming link from Geoffrey’s post. Wow, what an obsession! But I must say I am cheered. It is a best case scenario: You are reading your “enemy’s” writings here and I don’t have to waste time with your comments.

ER, you are seriously mistaken about me saying I would edit your comments. What I said in my last email was this (go check for yourself): “I’ll just moderate you and approve what I feel like. I just wanted to give you fair warning.” That was after I had said, “I let you have the last word, but please don’t comment again. Nothing personal, but I’m tired of having the same conversation over and over. It’s all been said. We’re both wasting our time, and we both have better things to do. Feel free to criticize me all you like from your blog.” ER, you’re a nice guy and probably a great neighbor and friend. I wish you well.

Alan, just for the record, you weren’t banned for being gay, or liberal, or a phony (again, I love it when a guy who blogs on the joys of gay camping and hanging out with lots of naked guys in a pool - including his “husband” - likes to pose as an orthodox Christian. I mean, pro-gay theology is bad enough but even if you bought those lies you couldn’t justify that kind of behavior. And don’t deny it and say I’m lying. I zinged you on that back in the Wesley Blog days and you came back with a lame “don’t believe everything you read on the Internet line. I do believe what you wrote on your own blog.). I knew all those traits before. I just got tired of your endless nit-picking. It sucks the fun out of blogging. And you saying I’m obsessed with gays is comical. Just because I blog on the most divisive issue in the church doesn’t mean I’m obsessed. By that definition I’m obsessed with pro-life, theology, evangelism, etc., and if you look at where I spend my time I’m much more obsessed with my wife, my kids, prison ministry, CareNet, church, Bible study, mission trips, giving, prayer, accountabilty groups, guitar, etc.

Wow, I’m really an obsessive guy! Thanks for the free diagnosis.

Geoffrey, your bits typically self-destruct with po-mo reasoning. I’ve found it is easiest to let you do your own refutations.

Seriously, I hope you guys see the light someday and repent of your pagan belief systems. In the mean time, keep reading here! And gossip all you like about me at your places.

Rather than deal with the substance of the criticisms I leveled at his post on the DNA of human beings and chimpanzees (actually a pretty interesting subject, but one Neil handles poorly), he addresses the three of us in odd ways. First, he claims that he never "banned" Erudite Redneck, yet in the quoted section above, he specifically "disinvites" my Okie pal from posting at his, Neil's, blog. I don't even know what to make of this kind of inconsistency (to be generous).

As for his treatment of Alan, what he gives with the left hand, he takes away with the right. He says he wasn't banned for being gay, but for being nit-picky. He denies an obsession with gay sex, yet spends the bulk of the paragraph writing about an innocent post of Alan's on a camping trip. Only a mind fettered with odd images of what happens when gay men go camping could have turned Alan's post in to something lurid and lascivious. Yet, Neil did do, and continues to do so. He also says that Alan's belief that the Church should be open to all people, regardless of sexual orientation is a "lie".

Finally, me he dismisses off-handedly, in a way that sounds intelligent and insightful but smacks of a certain reluctance to take another person's argument on its merits. To say that my beliefs "self-destruct" is at once silly and begging for proof. Everyone's belief system destroys itself. Mine is in constant need of the most basic infrastructural investment and improvement. That is what it means to live a life of faith; continually challenged by life, when I find that something I have held to be part of my life of faith can no longer stand the strain I, obviously, discard it.

He calls us "pagans". ER is a member of the United Church of Christ, a branch of various Reformed Churches in the Congregational tradition. Alan is a Presbyterian, and I don't hold that against him. Like Neil, I am a United Methodist, and my wife is senior pastor at Poplar Grove United Methodist Church, Poplar Grove, IL. I don't know how that qualifies as paganism, but there you go.

Anyway, I print all this not so much to have the last word, but to redirect the conversation to the substantive issue that began this discussion. I am asking those who have participated in this discussion to do so with an eye on that issue. I will not delete comments; I will not ask people to stop posting. I only ask that a serious subject be addressed in a serious manner (well, OK, there can be humor involved). There is no mandate here to like, or perhaps even respect, one another. I am asking that we deal with the issue at hand.

I realize Neil will in all likelihood not darken my doorway. More's he pity, because I am offering an opportunity for him to revise and extend his remarks in his original post for us. I also think, in all fairness, that he does need to address the personal comments he directed at us. I also think he needs to address his . . . inconsistencies . . . that have been pointed out. I, for one, will be happy to admit I am wrong if evidence is given to show that I was, indeed wrong.

Anyway, there it is, and let the games begin. I hope some games begin.

Virtual Tin Cup

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