Dan Stringer

navigating the convergence of faith, culture and the common good

What you can’t blog about

November 6, 2011

We 21st century Westerners seem increasingly comfortable sharing our baggage online. If you experience poor customer service or an expensive car repair, it’s fair game for a tweet or status update. In my case, I had a son who got cancer and died, so I blogged about it. No one told me to stop or change the subject. Most people, Christians or otherwise, can generally tolerate blog posts about how much you miss your deceased child.

What is simply intolerable is sharing how you were mistreated in church. First of all, there’s just no way to get away with it. The internet is far too public a forum for such deeply personal wounds. Plus, everyone will know who you’re talking about—or at least they will think they do. Ironically, the sweet and thoughtful people will heap guilt upon themselves. “Oh no, was that me?” But the real culprits will have no clue. So it’s not actually worth it. That’s why we don’t blog about church stuff.

Even in our increasingly permissive society, just about any topic is safer than a first-person account of church-inflicted wounds, including the standard taboos: politics, race, theology, sexuality, hell. To air one’s dirty laundry about church issues is to commit the eighth deadly sin. After all, it’s bad for business and probably won’t fix anything. So we passively bottle it and lug it around for years until the festering stench starts to scare people away. Keenly attuned to others’ possible agendas but not our own, we become self-appointed victims of spiritual abuse the world will never understand. Hrumph.

Yes, yes, I know. Matthew 18 tells us to share our grievances with the offending person and seek reconciliation on an individual level before taking it to others. Fair enough. There’s clearly a place for mustering up the guts to tell someone they ticked you off. The few times I’ve actually done it, I can report that it generally prevents a lot of bitterness and future headache. Any therapist will vouch for the basic principles of assertive conflict resolution, including an even-keeled use of diplomatic statements like, “My feelings were hurt when you dismembered my teddy bear’s arms.”

But what if there was no single person who actually offended you directly? What if you find yourself in an atmosphere where territorialism and suspicion lurk just beneath a waxy glaze of smiles and pseudo-inclusive lip service? What if you’ve tried your best to play by the rules and voice your viewpoints through the proper channels, but you still know you’re not welcome to be your true self? What if your expectations are likely too high and you simply need to accept certain realities about churches being smelly hospitals for sinners and clowns?

That’s why you don’t blog about church stuff.