One of the things that I like to think about myself is that I’m willing to listen.
It’s not easy, and I don’t always (i.e., rarely) do it well, but I hope I’m at least willing to engage with different ideas, new thoughts, unique perspectives– even when those opinions, and the voicing of them, are difficult to hear.
One of my close friends is visiting at the moment, and our conversations have shown me something that I hadn’t really thought about. Wasn’t really capable of thinking about on my own. My writing here, I believe, is extraordinarily important. What I’ve had to say has caused me to lose friends, to strain relationships. I’ve gotten angry, blustering, threatening comments, I’ve gotten e-mails and facebook messages that have attacked what I’m saying. At times, I don’t want to do it anymore. It would be so much easier to go hide under a rock and never speak about these things again.
But . . . there’s the dozens and dozens of comments, e-mails, and facebook messages that have reached out to me. Some of you have told me your story. Some of you have encouraged me at moments when I really needed it. Some of you have ferociously disagreed with me at times, but you’ve been willing to engage with me instead of just dismissing what I have to say– and I’ve loved every second of it. It’s a miracle that the things that I’ve written have helped some of you, and I am thankful for that. It’s why I’ll continue writing about the same topics– I will continue attacking evil and defending truth and justice whenever and however I can. And I will continue to confront evil wherever I see it, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
But, I’m human. I’m capable of making mistakes. I’m not immune to seeing “evil” where it’s not really evil, and is just reminiscent of evil I’ve experienced. I am not above tilting at windmills.
There’s another side of my journey that, interestingly, is even more difficult for me to share. So much of deconstructing my beliefs and my upbringing is about facing dead-on the wrong, evil, twisted things that have been so deeply ingrained in me that I have a hard time knowing they are there. But, what is so much more difficult than identifying the evil inside of me is rooting it out and planting something new, something healthy, in its place. That is where the battle really is, for me– and I find it almost impossible to talk about, because most of the questions I have don’t have answers yet.
But, when I was talking about my seedling of a new understanding surrounding Ephesians 5:21-33, and our conversation led me to explaining my fledgling awareness of a different articulation of headship and the metaphor of marriage to describe Christ and the church. When I finished, she simply commented: “I wish you would talk about this on your blog.”
I’ve hesitated to do this. I’m not a theologian. I’m not a Bible scholar. So much of this goes so far over my head it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around it at times. But these new understandings, this new approach to discussing and thinking about Christ and Scripture, have been a large part of my journey. I can talk about the abusive patterns and practices in fundamentalism ad nauseum, because that is what I know and understand more than anything else. I understand more about the fundamentalist perspective than I do about the Bible.
But you, the readers I have, deserve more than just a constant deconstruction of evil. I named my blog Defeating the Dragons because this is what I want to do more than anything else. I want to expose injustice and wrong as much as I can– I want to slay dragons. It’s also a reference to a favorite quotation by G. K. Chesteron: “Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist; but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
However, I can’t forget that the story shouldn’t really end when St. George thrusts his great sword deep into the heart of a dragon. It continues when the people rally together to rebuild what was destroyed. They tear down the burnt-out husks of their homes and piece their lives back together. They replant. They look forward to a new harvest.
There are still plenty of dragons roaming my country side, and I will fight them one at a time. But I’ll also plant. And harvest. And build a better, more loving, more honest, more human understanding of my world and the faith I need to live in it.
I hope you’ll build it with me.