Friday, January 24, 2014
on further reflection
Yesterday I said, "I guess I object to the implied arrogance, that Merullo can be so sure that his ideas about spirituality are so important that we all need to know..."
Even as I wrote that, it occurred to me that somebody could say that about me, too, but I was on my way to a different point at the time. But that's what I've been thinking about since I published yesterday's post. How is that different from me? I put my ideas about spirituality in a blog post a couple of weeks ago and put it out there in the blogosphere. Couldn't someone say the same thing about me, too? How are arrogant are you, AuntBeaN, that you think we all need to hear your definition of spirituality? (and maybe that's one of the reasons that post sat in my draft folder for so long.)
I want to split hairs here, because I have a couple dozen regular readers, sometimes up to 40 or 50 if it's an interesting post (or if there are pictures of the chickens), but I'm hardly putting my ideas out there with the assumption that the general public "needs" to hear them. I'm not submitting my ideas to an agent or a mainline publisher because I feel I deserve to be heard. I'm not expecting you to pay $12 for Aunt Bean's Book.
But what would be wrong with that? Nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And all of us, me included, deserve to be heard. So why exactly do I have such a strong negative gut reaction when someone else does it?
It occurred to me that this is an unexamined holdover from my Evangelical upbringing, a prejudice I didn't realize I was still carrying around. We were taught/coached that you can't trust your own ideas about spirituality, because human thinking is inherently flawed. You have to rely on the Bible--which of course meant "you have to rely on the Bible the way it has been interpreted by conservative Christians in our tradition." Don't think, just do as you're told. Don't come up with your own ideas about this stuff, leave it to the experts. And you already know how strongly I disagree with that.
So I think maybe I owe Mr. Merullo an apology. And maybe the guy who wrote The Shack, too (because not only was there the post I linked to yesterday, but I went on and on for two more posts). At some level my former Evangelical self was reacting to their assumption that they can have a valid personal opinion about spirituality--which of course, they can.
Maybe it feels wrong to me because it appears that they step easily into the shoes of spiritual teacher, and they seem to have utter confidence that they have a right to do so--something that at this point in my life is impossible for me. But that may be my own insecurity projecting that onto them. It's possible they had to fight hard with their own personal demons to reach that point. Or it could be the old male privilege thing--it's a battle that as a woman I have to fight that they don't.
Anyway. Here's what I know: all of us have valid opinions about spirituality (well, all of us who are interested in this stuff). We're all trying to figure out how to integrate spirituality into living in the twenty-first century, and that doesn't always allow for easy integration. Any one of us is as qualified to give our opinion about how that works as the next person. I might still argue with The Shack guy because his tone was so much I AM DELIVERING TRUTH TO YOU, but Merullo is pretty low-key. At least so far. I still haven't finished the book.
Oddly, I've never had any problem taking spiritual lessons/advice from the most unlikely sources--children's movies, interviews on the radio, billboards, mystery novels, whatever--as long as it's not actually couched as spiritual teaching. It's only when someone tries to specifically teach me something about spirituality that my cycnicism kicks in--and that's not necessarily a bad thing, as we've discussed before, so it's not going to stop. There is a lot of nonsense out there. Maybe I want to see how you live before I take any advice from you. But I think I can dump this automatic prejudice against all spiritual teachers that I didn't know I had.