: Taking Offense
I listen to AM Christian talk radio on the way to work sometimes. (Hands if you're surprised by this. Hands? No one?) I have a favorite show: Rhema For Today with Ken and Lynette Hagin. It's 15 minutes of preachin'. Ken Hagin is an eh preacher, but half the time they run Kenneth E. Hagin's sermons instead, his dad's, and there's a man could preach.
Hands if you think I listen ironically or to make myself outraged. Yeah? Wrong! I listen because there's a man could preach. Also, more, because if you run a ministry for a bunch of years, you can't help but learn some things about people. Like, genuine smart things worth knowing. Kenneth E. Hagin in particular had a clear head and he saw people plainly and with compassion, and that makes him worth listening to.
For instance, today. It was Ken Hagin, not his dad, so the preaching was eh, but he was talking about his dad's insights. He said something that spoke to me here in my life today. He said:
When you have the chance to be offended, or to take up someone else's offense, first ask yourself. Is this where I want to be stuck in life? Are these the people I want to be stuck with?
See? No irony, no outrage. Just me going like, "yep, no. It's not, they aren't."
(Is it a coincidence that this post follows the one announcing Poison'd First Edition? Hands?)
1. On 2008-09-03, Jonathan Walton wrote:
I, for one, have moved on too. Being stuck on negative emotions is definitely no good.
You do your atheistic leanings (sorry, I don't mean to label you) a disservice. Here I was getting all indignant listening to the RNC pretend like the last eight years didn't happen and if they did McCain had nothing to do with them, when--like manna from heaven--your words of "chill the hell out" calm my spirit. Coincidence? Divine inspiration? You decide.
Porter: Leanings? Nope! I'm full blown. I accept the label, since it'd be absurd for me to quibble with it.
However, thing is, people are very interesting to me, and I like them an awful lot, and they aren't especially well-described by atheism. That's insofar as atheism describes anything anyway, which - not much, not really, not if you're doing it right. So the language of religion - soul, fate, will, pray, wish, blessing, damnation, nature, redemption, fall, sin, and on and on - it's good for talking about people, where without it I'd be deaf and dumb.
All of which to say, happy to provide a moment of grace.
I wonder if you've read any Michel Foucault? I think he would agree with your assertion that religion as a really good way of talking about people, even if you don't buy it yourself. He's got some very interesting non-metaphysical things to say about the human soul.
Used to be, totally possible to get me to take offense at things said. Here's some people (You, Meg, Brand, Sydney, Jess ...) who I want to be engaged with, to be "stuck" with. The answer to the question is yes.
Then, well, it's a long process, but let's say "Race and RPGs weekend" to pick a point. A switch in my brain gets flipped and I'm like, "Wait, this isn't a place I want to be anymore. This isn't my place."
Now people can say anything on that forum, anything at all, even one of my crazy buttons (like, recently, talking about rape as if only men did it to only women, between strangers) and it doesn't make me so much as twitch my offended gland.
Anyway, I think it's interesting that the answer to "do I want to be stuck here?" can be meaningfully, productively "yes." What's that line? What makes it change?
For me the line is "stuck." That is to say, there are times and places where I will chose to stand with someone, or about something, and choosing to be with them am willing to accept (not endure, accept) their oddities, the limitations of their company, the pain that they bring, and so on.
But then there sometimes come times when I'm no longer willing to do that. If I feel that I must, it gets tricky. I'm all for duty, for constancy, for loyalty. But in the end those all still remain choices. I chose to take someone else's offense or not, due to any combination of those factors.
The suck happens when I'm doing it habitually, when I don't think that maybe I couldn't, when I do it out of reflex, habit, and comfort. Stuck, like having my tires stuck in the mud, spinning in place rather than moving forward.
Once upon a junket I was standing with folks on KF. It was good. Then I sometimes chose to stand with folks even when it was uncomfortable, and it was life. Then one day I realized I wasn't getting anywhere anymore, my wheels were spinning, I was stuck with the offense of others, and so I had to make some choices.
Well that was some nice reinforcing food for thought. My parents gave me a similar lesson. Sometimes it takes a while for me to put that lesson into practice, sometimes I even fight against it and end up screwing myself in the end; but how good it feels when I get to that point of acting and just let it go. Thanks, Vincent!