Tomorrow perhaps I’ll write some happy, silly thing — Lord knows there’s been a dearth of that kind of levity in my posts of late — but tonight as I sit staring at my computer screen I’m reminded of something that my father told his children repeatedly: “put your chair down on all four legs before you break it!” As I recall, we did go through an inordinate number of chairs.
There was, of course, another thing that he used to tell us which bears slightly more relevance to my thoughts tonight and that is this: “Sometimes your enemies will tell you the truth about yourself when nobody else will. It may be a distorted and exaggerated truth but it’s worth considering it nonetheless.” In light of that bit of fatherly wisdom, I sometimes stop and think about the things that fundamentalists say about me and about us. Are they even the tiniest bit true? Is there value and insight to be gained even from distorted and partial truths? Perhaps there is.
For if we have learned nothing else in fundamentalism this truth abides eternal: that we should always hate and fear the other with a deep and fervent passion. But what does it profit us if all we’ve learned to do by leaving the church of fundamentalism is to switch our name tags at the door and continue on as ever we were in that same path of despising the others who are not we? It was no simple command that Our Lord gave us when he told us to love our neighbor and He gave us no exclusion clause for people who will never love us back.
It falls then to us to make their words untrue. If they call us bitter let them find us always loving. If they call us liars let them find us honest to a fault. If they call us quick to wrath, may they be confused by our graciousness and perturbed by our serenity.
So let us each examine our own self. As it is written: “let the one who thinks that he is standing take heed lest he fall.” Perhaps we should put that chair down on all four legs after all.