When Mel Gibson’s movie generated so much controversy, Dennis Prager observed that Jews and Christians were seeing two different movies. Jews saw Jews. They saw hook-nosed Jews. Shylocks. Villains. Pogroms. Gas chambers.
Christians also saw Jews. They saw a Jewish Jesus, a Jewish Madonna, a Jewish apostolate. They also saw villains, but the villains were, by turns, Jewish and Roman alike. Except for Jesus, they saw sinners of every stripe in every frame.
In what has been called the “blog war” between the Tavernistas and their critics, the Tavernistas see their critics as mean-spirited, while their critics see the Tavernistas as means-spirited. Some spectators see both sides as mean-spirited.
Some bloggers justify their polemical tone by citing the polemical passages of Scripture, while other bloggers condemn the polemical tone by citing the peaceable passages of Scripture.
Ecumenical bloggers see all public divisions within the blogdom of God as painful and shameful while sectarian bloggers see such divisions as a threshing process, winnowing the wheat from the chaff.
It’s no mystery which side I come down on, so I won’t pretend to be impartial. But I will say a few things.
I’m one of those writers whose style is a transcript of his personality. As such, my character flaws on public display whenever I blog.
I’m aware that I often say the right thing for the wrong reason. If I were a better person I’d say the right thing for the right reason. However, I wouldn’t say what I said unless I thought it was the right thing to say at the time, and the right way to say it.
There are some people who avoid “scandal” at any cost. To take a rather extreme example, the irony of the Catholic sex scandal is that it became a scandal precisely because the bishops were trying to avoid any whiff of scandal. The scandal lay in the cover-up. In the complicit code of silence.
The blogosphere is unregulated. Every Christian blogger is a self-appointed pundit. Under the circumstances, I don’t see that silence is the best policy. I don’t see that we should always sweep everything under the rug.
In the blogdom of God, we need to police each other. And that’s a two-way street.
There’s no doubt that some issues would be much better handled in private. However, some bloggers choose to use their blog as a public diary. When that happens, it’s no longer possible to take a purely pastoral approach to the problem. You cannot err in public, and repent in private.