UPDATE: See the first comment from April 5. Richard Abanes quotes a response that he got from Steve Blackwell regarding rudeness.Â Hats off to you, Mr Blackwell — your statements are the most asinine, convoluted, anti-Biblical, unChrist-like thing that I have ever seen, and make all ideas that “inspired” this post pale greatly in comparison.
This is actually a follow-up to this post. I was originally going to just put it in as an update to that post, but the idea started growing. Run for your lives!
While one silly assertion was enough to show me that Why Weâ€™re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) [sic] wasn’t worth my time/money, Dan Kimball waded through it and put up some thoughts here. (I guess a book in which you are one of the topics is somewhat required reading.)
If you haven’t read Dan’s post already, wanna know what the overwhelming theme was? Taking criticism graciously, actually listening to it, seeing if there is truth to be found there, and (if so) applying the truth to your life.
OK, now I’m about to use a very dirty four-letter word. I think it’s necessary to the context, but I just wanted to warn you.
One might actually get the impression from Dan’s post that he was being … (here it is, brace yourself) … NICE.
Of all the criticisms that I hear from the anti-emergents and their ilk, the argument that folks that disagree with them are “too nice” is the one that amazes and disturbs me the most. Sometimes the statement is direct; sometimes a bit oblique, but the underlying message is clear.
Case in point: Recently, I was involved in an online conversation in which an anti-emergent said something very ungracious. I called him on it, and his response was a sarcastic assurance that he heard my “heart-rending plea for unity”. Were we in the same room, I would not have been the least bit surprised if he had patted me on the head.
And therein lies the bigger issue. I chose to illustrate this post with a picture of Mr Rogers quite purposefully. For those in my generation and younger, who grew up watching Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood, the man certainly taught us to be nice. But far too many people have relegated niceness to that show’s demographic, as though that attribute was something that we eventually out-grew.
Yes, we hear your “heart-rending plea for unity”. Now run along, and let the grown-ups talk.
Are there times when we should not be “nice”? Certainly. Look at any one of Jesus’ confrontations with the Pharisees for an example. Or the un-KJV-sanitized version of what Paul was referring to when he said “Galatians 5:11-12" target="_blank">cut themselves off“.
Is it possible to sometimes try to be “too nice”? Certainly. I am reminded of Mark Driscoll’s comment when he was examining some people’s unwillingness to give any kind of input on certain topics (even ones that God made clear) by saying that “someone might get hurt”. Driscoll’s response? “Well, now you’ve just hurt God.”
But somewhere along the way, the thinking has become, “when I argue my point, the other person states that I’m ‘not being nice’, therefore (since I have no need to listen to critical input), ‘being nice’ is something that is to be avoided like the plague.”
By this “logic”:
- Since I sometimes disagree with the political moves that the NAACP makes, I should shoot the next black person that I see.
- Since charges of anti-Semitism among Christians are often specious, I should become a skinhead.
- Since some of the stances of NOW are ridiculous, I should beat my wife.
Ridiculous? Certainly. Is it the logical extension of this thinking? Just as certainly.
Want to do the exact opposite as your “enemy”? Well, I have it under good authority that Brian McLaren never goes to church naked.