You (still) Can’t Say That!

shhh“If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children.” – Asaph

Part One. Part Two.

If you haven’t been hanging out in a monastery or a cave you’ve heard about the brouhaha that started with a question at the recent Miss America pageant. People have gone nuts over Miss California’s answer – her opinion – to a question asked by Perez Hilton. Whether you agree with what she said or not we’ve all got to be nervous about waking up in a world where people who don’t like the answer to your questions won’t rest until they’ve tried to erase your answer by digging in your closet for all the skeletons they can find there.

Outrage would seem more fitting, in this case, if it had gone something like this…

Perez: So, Miss California, what are your thoughts on the greatest threat facing the world today?
Miss California: (smiling) Gay marriage.
Perez: Really? Gay marriage? Not the economy? What about the flu pandemic? How about Darfur?
Miss California: (smiling) Gay marriage.
Perez: Seriously? You’re sticking with that answer? Sure you don’t want to switch to world hunger, terrorism or AIDS?
Miss California: (smiling and waving) Gay marriage.

But that’s not how it went. She answered honestly, naively even, and even lined up with the majority of voters in the last general election in California, the state she was there to represent.

I’m not saying I agree with her opinion. Truthfully, I think the whole system is twisted and would hope my own daughter would never dream of being involved in something that objectifies women the way this sort of competition does. But I would say that she’s got a right to answer, when asked, with her opinion. The simple truth is that some questions are only asked to get the answer we want to hear.

“Do these pants make me look fat?”

“Do you like my new haircut?”

“What do you think of my new boyfriend?”

A few years ago it was “in” to ask someone else in the church world to be your “accountability partner” or to be in an “accountable relationship”. This was the path to Christian maturity. I jumped on the road a half a dozen times. Every single time ended badly and the person I was in an “accountable relationship” with doesn’t talk to me anymore. “If there’s something in my life that you see that I might not, I want you to speak in to my life…” are the words that now make me run for cover. I won’t do it anymore, if someone asks I try to politely beg off and suggest we try to give friendship a go and see if that might be enough. Generally they move on, I’m apparently more attractive as an “accountability partner” than I am a friend.

My last and final attempt flamed out in spectacular fashion. I said “No.” about 3 times and then finally gave in to the persistent requests. “If there’s something you see…” So after a conversation full of graphic details about the girl he’d met last night and the sex they’d just had, I pulled out the yellow card (footie reference – ed.) and applied some accountability. You may have felt the heat or heard the blast that my use of the yellow card drew from my “partner”? In minutes I was written off for being a self-righteous asshole and the hours I’d shared with my “partner” were eclipsed by this incredible lack of (or perhaps abundance of) judgment on my part.

Sigh.

For all we’re supposed to despise about Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” I think his declaration, “You can’t handle the truth!” is more accurate than we like to admit. In fact I’m often surprised that it’s a surprise when I suggest to a fellow follower of Jesus that honesty is actually a Christian virtue. Somebody stopped coming to our church community a while ago after I mentioned in one of my talks that when someone asks, “How are you doing?” that the ‘social contract’ isn’t looking for honesty but as followers of Jesus we need to be real those who really want to know. The person who left said that I was wrong, that we’re supposed to speak “by faith” and we’ll become what we speak out loud. Sadly, these are exactly the kind of mental gymnastics that we use to keep each other and to try to keep God at arm’s length. We’ve mixed faith up with denial.

…to be continued…

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, denial, God, Life, religion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You (still) Can’t Say That!

  1. Yves says:

    Great post Brian.

    I would say that I’m amazed at the reaction that she’s got… but I’d have to lie to say that.

    We seem to be completely addicted to being comfortable. (or maybe thinking we’re in control)

    It could be that we disagree on a style of music or poem… or how to raise our children… maybe what’s the best way to cook steak or just how much to clean… or SEX….

    Seems to me that no matter what “the cause” or difference of view/belief… when someone is so attached to “the thing” that “it” becomes “them”…. there’s no comfort…. but only fear and/or discomfort present when the people “who are not”…. are at your door… or school…. or commitee meeting….

    Whether the topic is religion/faith/spirituality (for whoever reads this msg), or sex, or music, or food (meat vs veg ??), or animal rights… or… or… or….

    It’s hard to practice love, patience.. empathy…. it almost looks like people have a very real sense that their under attack just because someone thinks differently then they do. Kind of an “animal backed into a corner reaction”… “Go for the jugular!!!” (shut them up!)

    I’ve had to practice with several people in my life… “Oh yeah? You believe (fill in the blank)”… “I see…” Whatever the other person believes…. I BELIEVE that God loves them and desires me to be loving,kind,HONEST (uh oh)…. but God doesn’t want me to lead with the chin….

    Anyways.. forgive me for sloppy finger/long windedness…. but… seems like a choice between being under God (thy will be done) or being God (my will be done).

    What a mess of a comment Brian…. I almost think if I was a spam filter… I’d grab that one (mine)….

    Have a good one my friend. Had lunch with Andrew last week. I’ll be in C’Town Thrusday… if you’re around.

  2. brianmpei says:

    thanks for the comments Yves. I’ll be around. Stop by if you’ve got time.

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