". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Allergic Lutherans

I see it all the time. Someone, somewhere on the internet says something and all hell breaks loose. Certainly you have seen it, too:

You want to talk about what the sanctified life looks like? You must be a pietist.

You reverence the cross and chant the liturgy? You must be one of those repristinators.

You sang THAT song? Your church must be on the road to Contemporary Worship.

You are being critical of a pastor? You must have no respect for the pastoral office.

The list could go on, but you get the idea. It seems that in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod today it is almost impossible to have a meaningful conversation about any number of things because of the speed with which the line is drawn any time a "hot button" issue comes up. We are frankly more polarized than the United States Congress. "You're on that side; I'm on this side; you are not, therefore, to be trusted. You are, in fact, to be marked, avoided, and demonized." From that point, it's all downhill, as the competing viewpoints choose up teams and congregate on blogs and Facebook walls. Snarky comments are written and funny pictures and songs posted that refer vaguely to the opposition and that are understood only by insiders, and much fun is had by all; if someone comes along and questions the behavior, he is told he can't take a joke. Well, maybe he can't. But maybe that's the point. I think we may be so very divided, with so much invested emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, that it might in some (most?) cases be best to forgo humor, snark, satire and the rest. Maybe if we spent more time trying to earnestly understand and then to respond in kindness and love, we would actually make a little progress towards finding our common ground.

(N.B. I'm not holding my breath.)


X said...

Talking to Lutherans about sanctification is like talking to baptists about baptism. Straw men and confusion abound.

Mark Surburg said...

Cheryl, Thank you for a wonderful post.

In Christ,

Mark Surburg

Melrose said...

Cheryl thank you for writing this. You have such a sweet and gentle spirit.

Rebekah said...

I think the worst is the reflexive jerkiness directed against a disliked person rather than what the person actually said. We're on the same team. :( It just makes me sad.

Cheryl said...

Thanks, all. If Blogger had a "like" button I would be clicking it for each of your comments.

Susan said...

I wonder sometimes how cyberspace affects this. Would we respond the same way in face-to-face or on the phone? Does the speed (and the vast audience) of electronic communication exacerbate how we respond to disagreement?

Cheryl said...

Susan, the more I ponder it the more I think the answer is a resounding yes. I have thought of late that so much of the "discussion" that goes on online is pointless. We can talk something to death and rarely can we show any positive outcome at the end. More often we can point to sin and anger and hurt. Which makes me wonder what the point of this blog post is!

Susan said...

I think the point is that it grieves you (and others) that such is the case. And it weighs on your heart, and sometimes we talk about those things so that others can help carry what's burdening us.

Nathan Grohn said...

Good call. I have struggled with this over the last couple years. It's amazing how quickly people will call my team gunkyheads, and in turn, how quickly I am hyper-critical of things that I really don't have to be so critical of. And these disagreements can be so hard to understand sometimes, when the words we use are the same, but we use them with different meanings. I find it takes much forbearance and patience.