Thursday, December 02, 2010

BlogBack #1: The Post I Was The Most Scared To Have Others Read

I thought I'd start my BlogBack series with the most read post(or at least, had the most page views) in the history of this blog (or according to the admittedly flawed software being used to keep track). I am sure a part of the reason it was a widely viewed post was due to the rather controversial title and content, but I also have to give a large credit of the views to the fact Dave Carrol so kindly tweeted the link to his followers as well. As you'll read in a moment, that act meant more to me than the promise of extra high views. No matter the reason, the most viewed post this year is none other than Evangelical Failure: The Flaws In Aggressively Pushing Your Belief.

I had stated that my goal for BlogBack was to provide some insight into what inspired me to write a post and my thought process during the creation. But in the case of this blog, the actual post revealed right upfront that the article was written as a response to a post done by Dave Carrol. Though by the time I wrote my article, it was already a few weeks since Dave's had been posted and debated over. For me, while I felt it important to link to a piece that got me thinking over the subject, there was definitely many other reasons why I finally wrote it. The big reason for me was the plethora of 'debates' that have clogged up the internet and television that end up being nothing more than a contest in who can yell louder and prove to be more stubborn. As I stated in my post, I do see a lot of value in debates, but as a tool that can help you see the other side of the argument and realize there is more than just one view. But most of the religion v. science or one religion vs. another religion or atheism v. religion end up just being two people who are firmly planted in their views and beliefs trying to make the other look like a fool. The people who watch the debates usually come in with very strong and secure beliefs, and end up leaving the debate with the exact same views (and fully convinced their side was proven). For me, debates are better when attended by people who are on the fence or trying to get a better idea of the two sides of an argument, but it rarely seems to be that way. So, it started making me see that debates often can be a waste when one isn't willing to listen to the other side. This lead to my problem with evangelism which is often one close minded person then trying to hammer his beliefs into a person who already had a set of belief she was quite happy with. It just all seemed like a huge waste of time and skill.

But I probably made all that relatively clear in my original post. What you don't know is how I felt before, during and after I wrote this piece. There is a huge reason why this 'response' to Dave Carrol was written a while after his post. Simply put, I was absolutely scared of putting it up on my blog, and having certain people I know read it. I knew it was a subject matter that many people take very personally, and there was potential they would see the article as an attack. I also knew that some may try to read into the article and start jumping to conclusions about me that were completely off the mark. I decided to hold off for a bit.

I held off because I wanted to make sure I had enough time to choose my words carefully and to write it very well. I didn't want to risk doing a two in the morning post that has a Christopher who isn't as lucid and starts creating black hole inducing sentences. I also wanted to make sure I posted it at a time that I had opportunity to check it, just in case there was a flurry of posts I had to respond or manage. But mostly, despite my penchants for writing more controversial posts, I did not want to needlessly offend people I cared about because they misunderstood my purpose and thesis.

I have many friends and loved ones that work with Christian organizations. I have people close to me that have devoted their life to mission work or the church. I knew there was a chance for them to see this article as a slap to the face. That was the last thing I wanted to do. So, I needed to brainstorm exactly what it was I was attacking and disagreed with, and try to make that as abundantly clear as possible. So, I sat on the post for a very long time, but I soon realized, it was much more a way to run away from it rather than reflect upon it.

I never wrote the post prior to the copy that got published on the blog. So, in reality, I was just procrastinating from it. I was hoping that I'd eventually forget about it and not have the need to write it anymore. The thing is, as a writer, there are certain ideas that will haunt and torment you until you put it down. That is a large reason why I am a writer, because I need to get my thoughts out. I need to unleash the creativity and ideas that jump around in my head. It took several weeks, but finally I realized this idea was never going away. I had to write it.

This was a post that took much longer than most do for me. I usually can crank out a post within an hour or so (and even less for the shorter pieces). This one was a whole morning affair. I constantly looked over my words and tried to make sure my point was as clear as possible. As I stated in the actual post, I am grateful for a lot of the great work that churches and missionaries do. They are responsible for so many wonderful charitable organizations. When religion is embraced in love, it can be a powerful and glorious thing. I approve of that and I support that. My issue was when others forget about love, and started turning it into a contest of how many conversions can you rack up. Their goal was to 'covert' people into their line of thinking, even though that person was already happy and content in her own beliefs. As I sated in the post, if a person came to them wanting to know about Christianity or the Muslim faith or Hindu or even atheism, then by all means it is important to share your belief and see if it can offer the hope for this person. It is when a view gets constantly shoved down one's throat, or is used as justification to essentially show bigotry and discrimination to others. That was always my problem, and that is what I had to make clear.

I finally did get satisfied with what I wrote. I felt my view couldn't have been conveyed more clearly. But I was still scared. When I pushed the 'Publish Post' button, I was petrified that I was going to upset a lot of people and start having to endure some awkward face and face interactions. I was sure my title didn't help, but I also felt it was the best one (I needed something to sum up what I was talking about).

You know what? My fears were completely unfounded. I got glowing reviews from some of the same people that I was scared of their response. Even though Dave obviously disagreed with me, he enjoyed it enough to send the link out to his readers. All the criticism that I did get were very civil, but I actually ended up with far more compliments (many via e-mails). The only real damage was that my Facebook 'friends' dropped 5 people on the exact the day I posted the article (which seemed like a rather far fetched coincidence), but I've since recovered from that rejection.

I am glad I wrote it. It was an experience that really encouraged me to constantly stick to my beliefs and not shy away from the things I address on this blog. I think, a lot of what I write can generate great discussion or even get others to think. Though I also have to remember the importance of not needlessly offending, and thus try to keep my words diplomatic and intelligent. All in all, you can see this as a warning that many more unabashed opinions with flaming swords of fury will be landing on this blog.

2 comments:

  1. It was well written Chris (as is this post) and I do very much also enjoy civil, thoughtful discourse.

    Go hard fella. It would be fun to go out for drink sometime!

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  2. Thanks Dave, that really means a lot. In the future, I look forward to more civil and thoughtful dialogue with you.

    I'll also have to take you up on your offer for drinks sometime. Lets turn that into soon.

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