(Say the Jesus Creed morning and evening during Lent.)
As some of you may know, Shane Claiborne was invited and then uninvited to speak at Cedarville University, a Christian college in Cedarville OH. Here is Shane’s comment at God’s Politics. Tomorrow I will post my thoughts on this event. What have you been thinking? Again, the following post is from God’s Politics; it was written by Shane himself. Here is a CT article on the same issue.
The Internet has made it possible for every person to have channels of significant influence at their fingertips, regardless of credibility or content. This can be used for good or for bad. And in the case of Cedarville University, we have the bad. I was supposed to speak at Cedarville University in Ohio. At the last minute they cancelled, the VP’s job was threatened, all kinds of ugliness. A small group of people have used an impersonal, indirect means of communication to try and tear down something they disagree with. Unfortunately Cedarville gave validity to this group of bloggers by reacting to their demands ??? and as we all know, dissension spreads like fire — or yeast, as Jesus said.
A university must believe its students are able to “test the spirits” and work out their salvation “with fear and trembling.” We are not talking about junior high kids, but young adults who are capable of discerning truth from fiction, and who need to be trusted with and exposed to diverse perspectives.
If there is anything I’ve learned from both conservatives and liberals, it’s that we can have all the “right” answers and still be mean. And when you’re mean, it’s hard for people to listen to, much less desire, your truth.
We have nothing to fear from people who disagree with us. Folks who see things differently from us are our best teachers.
I would love to have a conversation with these folks who disagree with me. I have often said that one of our great witnesses to the rest of society is how well we can disagree. In fact, I offered to use the honorarium Cedarville promised to fly in the angry bloggers so we can have a public conversation. I take all criticism very seriously. I will prayerfully listen to every critique and concern that is expressed directly to me. My address is on our Web site (thesimpleway.org). And I respond personally to every one, usually with an invitation to have dinner together (hmmm, I can feel the surge of “angry” letters from folks looking for a free meal, haha!).
Unfortunately it’s difficult to communicate with folks who will not talk to you, who only talk around you, as in this case. I do not have time to hunt down every rogue Web site. There’s too much constructive work to do for the Kingdom for us to spend our energies constantly reacting to every destructive voice, especially those who do not honor Matthew’s admonition to speak directly with one another in love (Matthew 18). And there is too much brokenness in the world to spend time tearing each other apart.
I am excited to say that these bloggers do not represent the majority of Christians — who want to see evangelism and social justice kiss, and who know that what we believe must affect the way in which we live. This is evidenced by the surge of energy from other local communities and congregations who contacted us immediately after the cancellation with hopes of hosting the evening. We have worked carefully and respectfully with Cedarville University and the many folks in the area to organize an event on Monday night, autonomous of the university. It will be an evening of sharing worship and prayer hosted by Apex Community in Dayton.
So while I am disappointed that the institution itself at Cedarville was not secure enough to stand up to these vigilante voices, I am deeply encouraged by the faith and courage of the students, local residents, and members of the faculty and administration who have not allowed this minority voice to hijack goodness. I pray that our time together on Monday will move all of us closer to Jesus and to the Kingdom of God. It would also be nice if an angry blogger or two showed up so we can have communion together.