I’ve been on a blogging hiatus lately as I’m been under a deadline to get a book manuscript polished up and sent back to the editor (Yes, Katya, I am working on it!).
But I took time last week to type up what I thought was a pithy response to a particular hot-button cultural issue that had been nagging me.
I wrote it; I rewrote it; and I even had some friends weigh in.
Then, after all that work, I deleted the whole thing. (Which was really hard because it had a corny joke about a “salvation” that is seen as coming sola Twittera–by social media alone.)
I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say I had an inkling of discernment (which is all I ever have…) that the last thing the world needed was one more pontification on something that I actually don’t know very much about.
On that note, I’ve found the following eight insights helpful for those times that I am tempted to think that I must always open my mouth/keyboard.
These come from the evangelical-Anglican and Baylor English professor, Alan Jacobs.
In his words:
Going off half-cocked is now widely perceived as a virtue, and the disinclination to do so as a vice.
What ‘s more:
that poorly informed and probably inflammatory statement of [My] Incontrovertibly Correct Position must be on the internet . . . or it doesn’t count towards your treasury of merit.
But must I always weigh in on every hot-button issue?
As Jacobs reminds himself:
- I don’t have to say something just because everyone around me is.
- I don’t have to speak about things I know little or nothing about.
- I don’t have to speak about issues that will be totally forgotten in a few weeks or months by the people who at this moment are most strenuously demanding a response.
- I don’t have to spend my time in environments that press me to speak without knowledge.
- If I can bring to an issue heat, but no light, it is probably best that I remain silent.
- Private communication can be more valuable than public.
- Delayed communication, made when people have had time to think and to calm their emotions, is almost always more valuable than immediate reaction.
- Some conversations are be more meaningful and effective in living rooms, or at dinner tables, than in the middle of Main Street.
None of this means, of course, that I will stop writing on issues that matter–even when they’re considered controversial. I come, after all, from a theological tradition (Wesleyanism) that refused to shut up on things like slavery and women’s rights, even they had been dubbed “too radical” for respectable Christians to weigh-in on.
So once I’m not buried under a book manuscript (which should be sometime in the next decade) I plan to keep thinking in public with what I hope is a mix of grace and truth–or at the least “grammar.”
And I hope other thoughtful people do too.
Still, it is freeing to recall occasionally that the world’s salvation does not come sola Twittera. Or in my more long-winded case: sola blogos.
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