Ah, Festivus! That non-holiday holiday for the rest of us that features “the airing of grievances.”
And on this Festivus Eve, I have a grievance that I want to air:
Glennon Doyle Melton doesn’t really love Jesus.
She claims to, but in actuality she doesn’t.
(–And am I any better? I don’t know. I don’t know if I am in actuality loving Jesus. But I’m trying. I don’t know if I’m succeeding. I don’t know if I’m getting it right. But I am trying.)
Glennon is a very sensitive person.
She knows this, but she’s trying remedy this by trying her hand at living out loud, daring greatly and living vulnerably. But in actuality she’s not really doing any of these things. She’s not actually grasping what the concept of “vulnerability” is all about.
Living vulnerably doesn’t mean merely claiming (or saying) that this is what you’re doing–“hey, look at me, I’m daring greatly and living vulnerably!! Yippee!” while in actuality, in deed and behavior, walling out those who do not agree with you and banishing all dissent and contrary opinions.
That’s not vulnerability. That’s living safely immured behind a walled fortress, surrounded by like-minded mirrors who will reflect back to you only what you want and are willing to see of yourself.
It’s not vulnerability; it’s the pride, ego, and self-delusion that reinforces our faults and blind-spots. And it does the same for those who are being our mirrors.
I don’t agree with all of what Glennon writes. Some of it is very good; but frankly I think some of it is just plain bad advice–advice that actually doesn’t lead to the betterment of society or her followers, but only makes her followers (her “monkees” as they are eager to be referred to) feel better temporarily, and only reinforces and perpetuates emotionally reactive living.
Case in point: her “Don’t Carpe Diem” post — her lack of perspective rant against the idea of living in a way that is more appreciative of what one has, and that aims to be more appreciative of what one has and not take it for granted.
Carpe diem–appreciating what we have, not taking it (what we have; life itself, our own life and others’) for granted, not wasting the day out of pettiness and blindness and anger and irritability but instead living more deeply and courageously–is a really good message. A much needed message. A *MUCH* needed message.
But, granted, it’s a hard message to hear–a so-called bitter pill to swallow.
It’s hard (difficult) because it means not living in denial, but rather actually being *truly* vulnerable, facing our own (and others’) vulnerability–i.e. fragility, brevity, perishability. That’s part of what real vulnerability is all about: exposing ourselves to what most frightens us and what might overwhelm us and / or undo us.
So carpe diem is difficult because ultimately it means facing and wrestling with our own and others’ (those we love’s) mortality, death, extinction. And that’s a painful / terrifying thing to realize, consider, reflect on, deal with.
It’s a lot to haul.
As in A LOT to consider and emotionally (and not just intellectually) metabolize and digest.
Carpe diem is also difficult because it means learning how to try and control/manage our emotions, moods, attitude. In other words: CHANGE. Carpe diem is a clarion call–an unmistakable imperative–to change, as in the end line of Rilke’s profound and potent poem “The Archaic Torso of Apollo”–“you must change your life.”
Change is terrifying, and growth–growing up–even more so. Giving up our patterned ways of responding, facing our own inner demons and darkness and wounds and past, is daunting endeavor to say the least.
It’s easier to just stay as we are and rationalize it and make excuses for it. Especially when thousands of other people are living just as irritably and ungratefully, and are looking to rationalize their own lack of perspective and emotional immaturities.
We all know what the vast majority of people do when given the choice between changing their life and habitual patterned responses and moods and actually growing, versus staying the same and proving there’s no need to grow and or change.
Nearly everyone gets busy on the proof.
“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” — John Kenneth Galbraith, “Economics, Peace and Laughter” (1971), p. 50.
On Monday, I wrote a piece challenging Glennon’s thinking once again (I challenged it the first time when her original “Don’t Carpe Diem” post came out back in early Jan of 2012). I challenged it because she wrote a post “Vigil” that seemed fairly obviously to contradict much of what she had written in her regrettable “Don’t Carpe Diem” post.
In “Vigil” she wrote about her reactions to the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter. She wrote about realizing how precious her family and children and friends are. She wrote about just wanting to be with them and to love and be loved by them.–
“Hi Friends. In an hour, the kids and I are heading to the airport. Back to Virginia to be with my people. I just booked the flights yesterday. I couldn’t spend another day without my Sister and my (her) baby. Can you blame me? Bubba and Tisha will pick us up at the airport. I just want my mom and my dad. Don’t you? I want my friends. And more than I want my friends, I want their kids. I need to hold and smell and pray for each one of them. I need to check in to make sure the things I love are real. . . . I just know I want my mom and dad and Bobby and Sister and Brother in law and I want to hold my friends’ babies. That will have to be okay for now. I’m going home. To love and be loved.” — Glennon Doyle Melton
And she also wrote about how much she has grown and matured this year–about how she is both stronger and softer; about how she is better able to stay in the moment and not be overwhelmed by controversy and disagreement; and about how people criticizing her doesn’t send her into depression and despair like it used to.–
“I can tell I’m getting softer. I’m so grateful to God for that. There were comments made on our FB page that a year ago would have sent me into a rage and a deep depression. Not anymore. Folks need to say what they need to say. The expression of grief and anger are so unique to each of us. I’m just glad we can hold a safe space for people to express their pain. It’s okay. We can handle it. I hear the humanity and desperation and ultimately, the LOVE, behind the comments of EVERYONE this time around. . . . These are serious times and they call for serious people. I think if never before, now is the time to admit that the problems we have are very,very complicated and multi-layered and desperate. And to solve them, it’s going to take all of us. Right now, we cannot scream at each other for peace. I can’t anyway. If we’ve done what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’re always gotten. We’ve got to try something else. . . . We need everybody’s very best, very highest self to step forward. ” — Glennon Doyle Melton
And so in light of this–in light of what she wrote, in light of this crack in her armor that she seemed to be showing–I challenged her once again on her “Don’t Carpe Diem” post.
And . . . long story short, her monkees took great umbrage with both my message and my tone and style of message. A great angry hornet’s nest of flying monkees was stirred up and unleashed on me!
Bitter angry upset monkee after bitter angry upset monkee came after me and called me names, told me I wasn’t welcomed there, proclaimed that my ideas and standards were unrealistic, and that I was a meany–a snotty meanie!!
Long story short, without even having a chance to respond to my many critics and detractors, I was accused of posting under a false alias (because my wife had happened to post a response to all of the mean angry monkees, and because that response came from the same IP address as my comment, so they thought they had caught me in a trap and that I had been duplicitly posting under a false name!). Glennon and her sister, Mandy / Amanda posted this accusation–
It was just one man, lovies; just one man.
“In other words, Monkees:
“Finkle is Einhorn. Einhorn is FInkle.”
“I have exxxxxxorcised the demons.”
-Ace Ventura” (a.k.a Glennon Doyle Melton & Amanda Doyle)
They were giddy, they were elated. There was singing, there was dancing. They were celebrating as if ding dong the wicked witch were dead.
Yet they hadn’t done anything to legitimately deal with what I wrote.
And since their allegations were false, their celebration was of course very premature (as well as misguided). But it did start to show the world their true colors, their character, what they actually stood for, and what they were really about–pride, soft-mindedness, avoidance, comfort, escape).
And so I responded by letting Glennon know that she was wrong in her accusations. And meanwhile my wife messaged Glennon on facebook and gave her our number so she could verify for herself that I was not posting as two people.
But the cowardly / avoidant Glennon and her cowardly avoidant sister never called, and they never retracted their false allegation! (Predictable.) Instead they BANNED me from posting on Momastery, while Lilliputian little monkee after Lilliputian little monkee tried to take cheap shot after cheap shot at me. And then I employed a few countermeasures of my own and bypassed their little ban and I posted several brief yet brilliant and extremely civil and munificently magnanimous comments (considering the comments that these monkees had made to me) to several of my detractors. The brilliance and munificence of my additional comments was clearly too much for them to handle, and so in order to save face, they did what any weak organism would do: they swept the whole shebang under the rug: they deleted their posts, my comments (including my original and incredibly wise and perceptive comment), as well as many of the angry little monkee’s furious little posts of fury.
The ultimate measure of a human being is not where he or she stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where a person stands at times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
And it was right then and there that Glennon Doyle Melton showed the world her true colors, she showed everyone her character, what she really stood for, what she was really all about, and that she didn’t actually love Jesus.
Ultimately, what Glennon showed that she stood for was pride and comfort and avoidance, taking the path of least resistance–the easiest of the easy ways out.
She auctioned off a little more of her soul and her self-respect and self-esteem to the lowest bidder.
And in doing so, she showed that she actually wasn’t really a Christian. She was a white-washed tomb–beautiful and well-dressed (in comfy yoga pants and namaste t-shirt) on the outside but compartmentalized and fragmented and dissonant (saying / aspiring to one thing, but actually doing another) on the inside.
She did unto another human being what she clearly wouldn’t want done unto her. She ran and hid, instead of step up, admit she was wrong in her accusation, and ask for forgiveness.
I don’t hate or dislike Glennon. But I do think that what she did was foolish and sad and unsavory. I do think it was gutless and cowardly. That it wasn’t right or just or moral.
But I don’t dislike her. I have nothing against her. She’s a sister from another mother (and father). I want to see her grow up and be able to admit it when she makes a mistake or falsely accuses someone of something. I want to see her grow and learn how to be a more centered and emotionally self-controlled person. I want to see her grow and learn how to legitimately deal with criticism and a different and dissenting opinion or point of view (instead of running away from it and trying to avoid it, and going to the lengths she has to wipe it away).
I’m doing to her what I would want done unto me if I were to have done to me what she has done to me–falsely accused me of something, walled me out, et cetera.
I started this post by throwing down the gauntlet and accusing Glennon of not really loving Jesus.
Have you figured out why that accusation might actually make sense? See if the following passage helps to clarify things . . .
The Judgment (The Sheep and the Goats)
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did unto one of the least of least of these my brethren, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do unto one of the least of these my brethren, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
(Matthew 25: 31-46)
Christianity–claiming to be a Christian, claiming to Love Jesus and be a follower of Jesus / Christ–is a big claim. It means a lot. Or at least it ought to.
And it requires a lot (of us). Or it least it ought to.
And Matthew 25:40 cuts to the chase of what it means to truly be a Christian, what it means to truly love one another as we love ourselves, to do unto others as we would want and approve of having done unto us if the situation were reversed. Everyone is Jesus. no one gets excluded. Everyone ought to be treated and loved as if he or she were Christ or had Christ hidden within him or her.
The mask that each man wears may well be a disguise not only for that man’s inner self but for God, wandering as a pilgrim and exile in His own creation. And indeed, if Christ became Man, it is because He wanted to be any man and every man. If we believe in the Incarnation of the Son of God, there should be no one on earth in whom we are not prepared to see, in mystery, the presence of Christ. — Thomas Merton, “New Seeds of Contemplation,” pg. 296.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
And it is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself is truly hidden.
– C. S. Lewis, from “The Weight of Glory“
So in this season where there is talk about the Birth of Christ–then this ought to be a large part of it: the birth and growth of this intention in us: to Love others as if they were Jesus, and to Love them as Jesus loved his disciples and as he loves us. This is how a Christian makes his or love for Jesus apparent to the world: by loving the least of his or her brethren and sistren, by loving our enemies, our critics, our detractors, those who malign and do wrong to us.
Glennon Melton, I love you in this way and I forgive you.
. M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S