Matthew Paul Turner, author of "Churched", runs a great blog over at Jesus Needs New PR, where he records in a humorous and touching way his quest to become a Christian despite having to overcome the obstacle of being raised as a Christian. He's also pretty good at throwing in a dash of making fun of the worst aspects of pop Christianity. I found his recent entry on blog insults, disagreements with Christians and the difficulty of being "the guy who stands up the church" to be particularly honest and vulnerable:
"I’m tired of being one of the very few people willing to call out well-known voices in this culture. Or rail against somebody’s mean theology. And while sometimes all of that is very necessary, when it’s done quickly or when I do it out of “obligation” or because I feel like somebody is counting on me to speak up, little of what I say is necessary or helpful. My quick “obligated” words don’t change much. Why? Because in the process of being “that guy,” I lose parts of myself, I lose bits and pieces of Matthew Paul Turner. That guy is hard as nails and puts up a strong front sometimes. But Matthew Paul Turner cries during Grey’s Anatomy and loves Kelly Clarkson and loves making chalk art with my son, Elias.
I need to take my own advice. There’s a host of people on Twitter and blogosphere who have held up mirrors, showcasing a reflection of what they see in me. And while many of their opinions aren’t 100% true–”online truth” is rarely is 100% true. But that doesn’t matter. They are human beings. And their “reflections” matter. No, I’m not going to let them control me. But I must listen.
Shouldn’t I care just a little bit that there are forums thread out there in the blog world that are basically groups of people agreeing with one another on this: “MPT is an asshole.”
And you know, if you disagree with my theology or politics or opinions about social issues, I’ve certainly given you enough fodder to come up with that opinion. I must confess, there have been times when I have had to fight the urge to simply cast the label of “asshole” upon Rick Warren. But I refuse to do that. Because it’s not true. Yes, we disagree. Yes, we’ve had our heated Twitter conversations. But my disagreements with Rick Warren do not define him! And I refuse to let them define him as such. And I do that knowing full-well that I have no control on how he defines me (or even remembers who I am…).
Now, I’m still going to speak up. I’m still going to post videos and church signs and write punch lines and write long boring posts about what I’m “feeling” or “thinking” or whatever and I’m still going to stand up for my beliefs and passions and against the things that I believe hurt Christian culture. But when I do, I need to remember my own humanity. Because if I remember my own humanity, I will have a better chance of also remembering the the humanity of those I’m standing up for as well as those I’m disagreeing with. And it’s much harder to remember your own humanity when you’re busy being “that guy.”
Besides, “that guy” can be a real asshole, so I’ve heard."
The full post is available here. Matt - for the record, you're not an asshole. You're an inspiriation to many of us.