In Defense of Simcha

In Defense of Simcha August 24, 2016

Not being Roman Catholic, I have no business weighing in on the horrifying (to me) news that Simcha Fisher was this week fired from her job at the National Catholic Register. But hey, this is the Internet, so I will anyway.

First, I don’t have anything to say about the firing of Mark Shea because I have never read him and don’t know what the issues are.

Second, oh my word! Simcha has been my main stay since the first moment I began to read blogs at all. Her writing, through all these years–and yes you should go read her archives from I Have to Sit Down, and read her book–gave me hope that having a lot of children was probably worth it, and life didn’t have to be either dull or stupid. The breezy, funny, cutting writing is what makes any kind of life on the Internet worth living.

Which brings me to my main, if third, point. And that is that I’m grossed out by the alarming broader cultural trend of tribalistic mob-ism and even more sickened that it is making its way, particularly this political season, into the Christian sphere.

Ever since the foul invention of Twitter we’ve been meandering down this path. You might wake up one morning, in this fair and great land, and have your coffee, and click through the news, and then go off to work, and in the course of your day you might have some kind of thought or opinion that you decide to share with the world. So you say it, right there, online, for all the world to see. And that’s good, see, because human beings communicate and come closer to each other with the use of language. But now, because we’re sinners I guess, and because democracy means having the right kinds of speech codes and thoughts and feelings, that little tweet you fling out there had better be the right kind, it better reflect the thoughts and feelings of the prevailing power groups of the day, whoever they are, or guess what, your life has to be over. So in the last couple of years, we’ve had the utter destruction of some notable public lives because they didn’t say and believe the right things. That Mozilla guy, and poor Paula Dean. And lots of others. If you Say the Wrong Thing then Nuts to you.

This should be alarming for everyone, but particularly for anybody who uses Language. Oh yeah, right, that’s Everybody.

But see how this foul trend has been creeping into the Christian sphere. The example that leaps to mind for me is the Gospel Coalition’s removal of that dunderheaded Listicle–twenty five ways to be ok with your white daughter marrying a black man. Sure, we all thought she needed more sensitivity training, but taking it down was a bad idea because what happens the next time someone gets mad, and which someone?

And now that we have Trump, wheeeee. This is going to be great, isn’t it. If you say something nasty about Trump, to some Christians, you might as well pack it in. Except see, both candidates are awful, and we should be in a wide open space where everything is fair game.

The prudish picking up of the skirts and skittering away to faint on your properly appointed ikea fainting couch needs to Go Away. Did someone say something that you disagreed with and you didn’t like it? You should just try to deal. Don’t find a safe space. Don’t rev up your outrage engine so the needle is popping off. Don’t start wildly signaling your virtue and goodness on Facebook and Twitter. Rather than all that, take a deep breath, pause, thank God that we can use words and even use them badly, and go for a walk or something, read a different website.

I recently asked for suggestions about what I could write about, since I’ve hit a dry spell, and a friend on Facebook said why not Women’s Ordination. And I wanted to say, but didn’t, “because I’m a coward.” But I have reason to be a coward because I do not have Approved Thoughts and Feelings about women in ministry. I will deeply anger both right and left and I’m pretty sure that some of those people won’t be able to deal and will rip me to shreds. Do I want to do that to myself? Or do I want to keep trundling around talking about the contents of my cupboards? I think the answer has been pretty obvious up to this moment.

So, I hope you’ll join me in praying for Simcha, and her family, and for our spineless culture that can’t deal with the minor-est outrage. And maybe go hug someone you hate today, and decide to just forgive them and let them go free, even though they disagree with you.

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