Sunday, January 25, 2009

How To Respond

A local clergyman made an irresponsible remark in a very public forum (irresponsible in the histrionic, over-the-top category). Should I respond in that public forum or drop him a note?

Update: I should have been clearer. It is not my church or even denomination. It is a letter to the editor. I agree with much of what he said, but believe his rhetoric was not merely over-the-top and inflated, but irresponsible.

9 comments:

Boogliodemus said...

Why respond at all? It's the nature of most clergymen to say things that are over the top. Let it go or find another church. Since you asked.

Donna B. said...

Drop him a note. One public embarrassment is probably enough.

TomG said...

when I was younger (from an overly strict upbringing) I would worry about what the other person would think, but as I get older and see what makes for successful people - I weigh just the net utils of my own hedonic chart. So that in your incident here, the pertinent question is what you wish to have happen as a result of your actions - taking into consideration the sets of Pros and Cons, of course. If you wish him to apologize publically, you may need to keep it public - but if you wish him to do some non-coerced self-reflection first, then the private way seems more tactful (at first anyway). But very few people really change their views after age 25, so I'm inclined to go with Boogliodemus and find a new church - but also letting it be known why (which is quite self-satisfying, as well as further validating of the belief in free speech without which we're all automatons). Cheers, TomG

Larry Sheldon said...

I'd use a public, but credible, forum.

And I'd find another church.




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feeblemind said...

Respond via Public Forum. I think it is important for him to have feedback and it is important for the public to know that not all agree with him. Silence can be equated to agreement.

Gringo said...

You said you agreed with much of what he said. Write him a letter, not because he is a clergyman, but out of concern that such over-the top rhetoric he is using is hurting your "common cause." Suggest to him more restrained and more persuasive ways to get his point across.

He may be of the opinion that the same rhetorical style used in a sermon may be appropriate in a non-religious setting.Dissuade him.

Larry Sheldon said...

With the update info: You should reply to the editor.

That the original author is a clergyman is irrelevant unless the issue was theological.

terri said...

The editor.....You can refute his assertions in a gracious but firm way. If the fumble is public, the response should be public.

Just be gentle....No one likes to be corrected by an assistant village idiot...you might have to upgrade an actual Village Idiot response. :-)

Retriever said...

I generally go along with the reprove in private, praise in public school. But depends on the issue he was a jackass about. If it was just moronic political liberalism, let it go. When the political chickens come home to roost, his congregation will remember and it will discredit him without you having to do anything.

But if it was hurtful to the vulnerable (whom he should be comforting, not afflicting) HAMMER him righteously. I left the church in youth for years because of a clergyman mocking the shakey walk of my then desperately ill mother to a bunch of tittering church ladies.

So, if he offended only you, suck it up and suppress the natural desire to sock him. I tend to follow C.S.Lewis' logic on why he is not a pacifist on this. To try not to respond in kind to offenses against ourselves, but to fight when another is threatened.

When I dispute asinine members of the clergy, you can't go wrong quoting Scripture. They can't really fight back. Of course I went to seminary and worked as a chaplain so I know where the soft underbelly is (hint: wound his narcissism and his sense of himself as uniquely sensitive to the pains and sorrows of the world, his sense of himself as God's noble representative, and you will have him by....)