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“Shut up!”

We try to avoid that phrase around here. shugs.jpgSometimes it slips out when Little Ms. Barks-a-Bunch won’t hush. Isaac’s adopted “Quit it!” and “Cut that out!” instead. I guess that’s better? . . . not sure.

Telling a terrier to “Hush!” just doesn’t work. She has something to say! “Arf! Outside!! Feline!!!” “BrACK! Alarm! Potty alert!!” “Hey!! Couch potato!! Child’s crying!! MOVE!!”

At risk of encouraging the obvious and unflattering connection between me and our little lady dog, I’ve been told to shut up a lot too. Especially lately. So I think I know how Sugar feels. “Be quiet? Why? You need to know this!! There’s a man in a brown uniform knocking at the door with a big box. It could be a cat. It could be kibble. How would you know any of this unless I helped you see it? Isn’t that why you got me? Your dad says I’m a good watch dog!! He understands.”

A friend good-naturedly challenged me to find any Biblical example for what I do on this blog. He, of course, assumed that there would be no examples. ::scratch:: And I can’t find anything but support! 

Any writing is similar, isn’t it? Exposing feelings, opinions, perspectives, arguments, and conclusions. I mean, if you’re posting a laundry list of complaints or identifying a contemporary problem in the Church, what’s the difference? What’s the difference between this and preaching (all blogs — especially from the deeply religious — are polemics. All language is sermonic anyway, isn’t it? All good Burkeans and all true conservatives know that it is.)? Those questions aren’t merely rhetorical. I think the real difference is just that we’re in the middle of it, that it’s hitting a little too close to home, that you might think you know who I’m talking about (when, unless you’ve asked me, you probably don’t), or that you prefer not to know about it. In other words, my self-reflexivity makes you uncomfortable. I can accept that. I don’t always want to know about the UPS man at the door either (that’s what ear plugs and/or iPods are for).

But those are human examples. How about Scriptural ones? Okay . . . . isn’t that what David does in the Psalms?

Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
   In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him;
the LORD protects him and keeps him alive;
   he is called blessed in the land;
   you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
   in his illness you restore him to full health.
As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me;
   heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
My enemies say of me in malice,
   “When will he die, and his name perish?”
And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
   while his heart gathers iniquity;
   when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
All who hate me whisper together about me;
   they imagine the worst for me.

They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him;
   he will not rise again from where he lies.”
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
   who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
But you, O LORD, be gracious to me,
   and raise me up, that I may repay them!

By this I know that you delight in me:
   my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
   and set me in your presence forever.

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
   from everlasting to everlasting!

         Amen and Amen.

And the Prophets?

Seek the LORD while he may be found;
   call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
   and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Christ scolds the mercenary system in place in the Temple. Paul addresses specific and personal issues to a general audience all through his epistles. For instance, commentators surmise that Paul references a specific Judaizer in Galatians. His public warning to the Galatian church contains particular rebukes about which they could fill-in-the-blanks. He’s rebuilding his credibility that his “opponents” have torn down. He’s building a case — publicly and specifically. In other words, it’s not that Paul shuts up just because he’s addressed an issue privately.

What’s the difference between these examples and my words? I can hear the easiest retort: “Well, they were writing Scripture. You’re not.” Well, ::chuckle:: duh! 😉 I never claimed to be. But surely no one would say that unless you’re speaking directly from God Himself, you’re not allowed to talk. Besides, I was asked to find Biblical examples.

The other response I can hear in the ether is this: “You can’t compare yourself to the poets or the prophets or to Christ or to the Apostle. They were writing to a specific audience and for a particular occasion. You can’t apply that method today.” ::scratch:: Really? I actually heard a similar explanation of Galatians recently: that it doesn’t apply to today because Paul was talking to a specific problem back then, not to us today. Oh? . . . Yikes! I don’t think you mean that. I really don’t.

It seems, plain and simple, that deference is always given to the powerful Status Quo. Always. If you disagree with the system, that’s fine. But you’d better keep it to yourself. If you dare to speak your disagreement, you will be severely punished. In the end, Scripture is (mis)used to shut up the dissident, to maintain the illusion of a placid unity. And that sort of deference to the powerful, I will say quite bluntly, is nothing short of idolatry. The Hegemony is not God.

I really think that Aristotle’s perspective is spot-on in these situations: the truth is strong enough to win the day. I can speak boldly because God will bring Himself to light — with me or in spite of me. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

If you don’t like what you read here, stop reading. I’m okay with that. I’ll still chat with you if I see you at the Playplace. I’ve mentioned no names. I’ve slandered no one. And I won’t. I’m processing my thoughts about leaving a slice of the world that was my home for 20 years. And it ain’t easy. And it helps the Body in the process. I’ve seen evidence of that. Through much prayer, I believe that God wants me to actually be bolder than I have been. So now’s a good time for those who are uncomfortable to subscribe to my vintage cooking blog instead.

I have been tempted at times to just throw a pillow at Sugar to get her to hush. I have learned what a rotten idea that is! First of all, it’s a bad example to my sons. I don’t want them to think that throwing things at those smaller and yappier is an appropriate response to our own misunderstanding and frustration. And, to be painfully blunt, if I don’t pay attention to her, I usually end up with a puddle on the floor, and it’s entirely my own fault for not listening closely to her.

Gotta run. Guess who’s barking?

6 thoughts on ““Shut up!”

  1. Be bold, and never shut up! I think some may be bothered by what you say because you are, in a sense, revealing what’s behind the curtain in the land of Oz.

  2. Wow–exactly! This is a perfect post to direct my Dad to. He was a little uneasy about my latest blog post, and he’s always been rather “anti-Hannah’s-blog.” But this will help him see why I do it, I think. I can’t take my blog down now–this last post got too many positive comments and actually got some people thinking. And isn’t that the point? Encourage dialogue, be bold, apologize when you’re wrong (that’s the lesson I’ve had to learn), but always pursue the truth.

  3. Good points. They are more productive than the comments I usually make when people challenge me on any of my online comments (usually the ones critical of Fundyism provoke the negative response). Most of it is just muddying the water and begging the question of whether the criticism is correct.

    The comparison to the Apostles or Prophets fails in one sense because we know that we are not “inspired” in the sense of being inerrant. But if we, as online commentators, we are *wrong on the merits of what we say*, not wrong for expressing our views online. If a post is poorly reasoned, make that argument, instead of summarily dismissing all blogs. Likewise, it is self-refuting for a movement whose identify turns on identifying “error” in fellow believers and separating from those in error to pretend that religions leaders are above criticism.

    For those reasons, I look forward to your future posts, even though I am confident that I will read much with which I will disagree.

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