Sunday, June 19, 2005

Dirge for Paranoid Blogsters and Those With an Axe to Grind Against Apologists (Dylan's "All I Really Want to Do" -- Revised)

The time has come to apply some satirical humor, in light of recent ridiculously paranoid and hyper-defensive behavior; this time at the Lutheran blog Here We Stand.; directed towards (who else?!) yours truly, yet again. My disgust with discussion boards is fairly well-known by now, I think. I've avoided them almost completely for over a year-and-a-half. I have thought since then that blogs were on a considerably higher level of civility and seriousness, but alas, after this pathetic display I must conclude that human nature has dictated that some blogmasters, too (and those who post on many blogs, perhaps often depending on the approach of the blogmaster), are most uncomfortable with the vigorous (yet good-natured) expression of opposing viewpoints or critiques.

Hopefully, this is not a widespread phenomenon, but something tells me it probably is. Thus, my eternal quest for folks who 1) understand their own theological position, and 2) welcome challenges to it and opportunities for dialogue with those who differ (within an overall attitude of mutual respect and amiability), continues.

Meanwhile, I offer this bit of humor, with an underlying serious message (as with all satire). I have changed the lyrics less than I usually do in these satire-songs, because Dylan is so perceptive about human foibles. He writes, no doubt, primarily if not solely about male-female relationships, but I think the lyrics (changed a bit for humor's and applicability's sake) also fit very well with insecure, judgmental types on the disembodied, often wildly, grotesquely impersonal Internet who want to (supposedly) read the heart and mind of someone who believes something different than they do, and "put them in their place."

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All I Really Want to Do

(Bob Dylan: 1964)
(original lyrics)


I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you,
Beat or cheat or mistreat you,
Simplify you, classify you,
Deny, defy or crucify you.
All I really want to do
Is, simply to talk with you.

No, and I ain’t lookin’ to fight with you,
Frighten you or uptighten you,
Drag you down or make you frown,
Chain you down or bring you down.
All I really want to do
Is, simply to talk with you.

I ain’t lookin’ to block you up
Shock or knock or lock you up,
Analyze you, Catholicize you,
Proselytize or propagandize you.
All I really want to do
Is, simply to talk with you.

I'm not trying to humiliate you,
Convert, revert, or subvert you,
Or disgrace you or displace you,
Or define you or confine you.
All I really want to do
Is, simply to talk with you.

I don’t want to damn your kin,
Make you sin or do you in,
Or select you or dissect you,
Or inspect you or reject you.
All I really want to do
Is, simply to talk with you.

I don’t want to fake you out,
Take or shake or forsake you out,
I ain’t lookin’ for you to feel like me,
See like me or be like me.
All I really want to do
Is, simply to talk with you.

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Now, am I happy when someone converts to Catholicism? Yes, of course. But does that mean that everytime I "set foot" in a non-Catholic venue, that I am trying to immediately convert everyone, and that I therefore completely disrespect them and the environment I am in? No, of course not. I've been doing apologetics and evangelism for 24 years now: the first nine as a Protestant evangelical. Over that entire time I have never, ever (not once) applied "heavy pressure" or a "hard sell" technique or overbearingly, obnoxiously tried to "make people convert." I never put people on the spot in that way; either privately or publicly. I defend my position and challenge others, but that's a different thing, having to do with the "marketplace" of ideas.

I's the Holy Spirit's job, anyway, to convert and change the hearts and minds of whomever is to convert. If it is to be, it'll be, without human manipulation and Madison Avenue sales techniques or time-honored used car salesman tactics (and yes -- based on hundreds of letters I have received --, many people have converted to Catholicism, in part because of my efforts, but because of reading my materials, but not my putting personal pressure on them). I share and dialogue and challenge, insofar as the conversation is relevant to what I believe to be true, as a Catholic. But this nonsense that I am accused of as to motive and approach is simply not true.

People can and will believe whatever they want about me (and, apparently, apologists in general) in this regard. What I have stated here is the truth. People (my harsh critics) can believe what I write here or not. If they choose not to, then their choice of cynicism and believing that someone is lying or being duplicitous or equivocal is wrong, and not a Christian attitude, as far as I am concerned. We can't be suspicious of everyone because they are different than we are -- not even (gasp!!) apologists (!!!!!!!). If we can't even accept people's self-report, and have to second-guess everyone, then that is very dangerous ethical and spiritual ground, in my humble opinion. We must believe the best of people (1 Corinthians 13).

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