Friday, June 16, 2006

What Do You Do When You Wake Up with Your Foot in Your Mouth?

First you get your foot out of your mouth.

Then you try to find out how it got there in the first place and learn from the experience.

The post below was not (believe it or not) intended to be a bitter, humorless whine, although reading it over, I certainly sounds that way (even to me, and I wrote the thing).

Lessons learned:

1) When you're wondering if you should go for the "grabber headline," DON'T.

2) Self-pity (individual or group) is generally a bad frame of mind in which to write.

3) Tone doesn't come over well on the internet. So let me say what the tone of this is right off: rueful embarrassment.

4) One reason why the Missouri Synod "don't get no respect" may be that we tend to have a big chip on our shoulder, that perhaps other denominations don't have.
Should we have such a chip on our shouder? Well, I think most LCMS Lutherans feel that somehow, we have this great thing and no one pays attention. So occasionally we kick people's shins to make them pay attention. The results are not edifying.

5) Many of the points I made have been floating around in my head for a long time. The piece Mere Comments linked to and the its brief approving comment were merely occasions for me to "get it all out." In other words, someone "pushed my button." I am not surprised that the Touchstone editors wondered "What is he saying!?" because much of it (as I now see) was not directed at them, but at memories of things I've read long ago, etc.

6) In the internet, the distinction between famous people and unfamous people breaks down. In writing about Touchstone and Mere Comments, I never dreamed that Touchstone editors would actually read and take notice of what I wrote. People often complain about the internet's effect on discourse, but I think this is a good thing. I was putting the Touchstone editors in the category of the mighty "them" who sit high up in their Olympian world, and I gave myself the freedom to speculate about "them," that little people often do in talking about their betters. It's salutary to be reminded that jumping to conclusions about "them" is no more acceptable than jumping to conclusions about a friend or neighbor. So I would like to say (sincerely) to the editors "Thank you" for taking the time to teach me that lesson.

7) I should have considered the fact that S.M. Hutchens pointed out in his comment, that they don't necessarily think that much about the LCMS at all. In short I was falling into the usual pattern of thought of the paranoiac conspiracy theorist: everyone thinks about YOU all the time, and their thinking about YOU is driven by a deeply logical nefarious master plan.

I would take the whole post down, but that would make the link at Mere Comments dead. Really, I'd prefer to leave it up as a warning to resist the temptation to act the thin-skinned paranoiac in the future.