People are perceiving very different lived realities at General Conference. I am writing what I experience and observe, but I admit freely it is only my opinion. Many people are leaving feedback directly on the blog, but I am also receiving emails, tweets, texts, and face-to-face feedback — mostly disagreeing with what I am writing (some affirming/confirming). What is most interesting to me is that people are not refuting what I say; they are more interested in evaluating my motives and fitness. Those who disagree with my content are saying that they see no rude behaviors, they don’t feel we are wasting time, and they think the overall environment here is positive and respectful. I would love that to be my reality, too, but sadly it is not.
Some of my critics write:
“You are only seeing what you are looking for. When all you allow in is the negative, that is exactly what you will find.”
“You are projecting. You are ascribing your own cynicism and negativity to others. I have seen nothing but good people acting like Christians.”.
“Why are you so dedicated to looking for trouble? I haven’t noticed any lack of trust or honesty in plenary or my legislative committee.”
“Of course you are seeing negativity. Anyone who disagrees with your liberal worldview is wrong, hateful, angry and mean-spirited. What you see is a bunch of Christian disciples who love the church, but what you describe is enemies who are causing us to waste time. Courageous, visionary, Spirit-filled men and women are fighting for the integrity of the church, and you label them malcontents. You see Christians stand up for themselves and you call it bad behavior. The problem isn’t what you are seeing; the problem is the biased filter through which you look.”
The question I have is, why don’t these people leave their comments in the public forum of the blog? Why take their potshots at me personally? If they believe I am skewing the truth, why not call me on it in the forum and see if others agree or disagree with them? I don’t agree with Creed Pogue very often, but he has the courage of his convictions to disagree with me publicly. I have immense respect for that.
All that said, I am fine reminding people that this is a blog — it is my personal opinion and reflection. I am not expecting to sway or influence people’s thinking, nor do I expect everyone to agree with what I say. I write personal thoughts publicly with the hope of provoking deep thinking and inviting civil discourse. I wish I were projecting THIS on the gathering. I am looking for, desperately seeking, civil discourse and beloved community. I confess, it is hard to find this year. But I will keep looking.
I am delighted some people are having a different experience of General Conference. The people who stop and talk to me tend to want to share their own stories that are similar to my own.