Harshing, Part II
It’s a harshing twofer! BF writes:
Dear Ask Avery-
I have this sore on my…..
Just kidding. Just kidding.
I’m curious to know if the undercurrent of anger that so often comes alive through the comments posted by your constituency is a phenomenon peculiar just to Avery Fine Line or is it embedded in SG culture. (too churchy, not churchy enough, no to matching pastel suits, yet no to modern warehouse chic, amateur groups are killing the genre, yet professionals in their big blingy bus thingies are not much better, too traditional, too modern).
It’s been a hoot over the last several months to follow along. Good work.
With the caveat that I don’t look at message boards and haven’t for several years now unless someone points my attention to something, I would say in general – and this is the short answer – yes and no. There probably is more angry shouting here than in a lot of other sg discussions, but then I allow it.
Longer answer: It’s often my intention to push people out of their comfort zones and purposively propose alternative perspectives that a lot of my readers find unchristian, unkind, or otherwise unacceptable. So I guess it ought to naturally follow that the hating, harshing, and other undercurrents of anger that so often surface here are above average in sg culture, where most people try to build consensus around orthodox viewpoints.
But I also think the quality of the public discourse in and about southern gospel is pretty crummy in the main, mainly because a lot of people are unable or unwilling to instigate thoughtful, honest dialog without self-censoring or resorting to off-the-shelf truisms and other stock-phrases (including the use of scripture as a conversation stopper) that are often used as substitutes for original thought.
Having grown up in fundamentalist and conservative Christian cultures, I don’t find this terribly surprising. Absolutism still predominates in southern gospel, and absolutist worldviews by necessity tend to treat competing ideas or unorthodox claims as a threat to their own legitimacy. Thus the volume goes up pretty quickly around here, since a lot of different ideas kicked batted around.
When that happens in a room full of people where absolutism and fundamentalism is in the majority, the object of most of these conversations, debates, or discussions for many of the people involved is not engagement, inquiry, discovery, or the reciprocal process of refining one’s thought, but elimination of the other, the enemy. Plus, the ignorant whitenoise from all corners doesn’t help (honestly, I’ve stopped counting how many times Harry Peters has tried to post comments with “queertet” in them … how utterly boring). But what kind of pluralist would I be if I shut all this down? (Answer: a selective one, since I’ve started deleting Harry Peters comments and other similar insipidity that wouldn’t serve any marginally intelligent purpose.)
What does surprise me (pleasantly, I might add), and why I stay involved with avfl, immersed in a world and worldview that often frustrates me in its self-imposed limitedness, is that there are a lot more right thinkers out there than, to be honest, I tend by default to give sg culture credit for (some of my good friends and most interesting correspondents are people I’ve met through avfl).
So in addition to being a lot of fun and sharpening my thinking and writing (I hope), avfl also exerts a regularly corrective force on my own smugness or presumptuousness and requires me to do what I try to encourage others to do: shout, polemicize, and monochromatize less; and instead think, write, and live on an evener keel. … assuming you can hear yourself think above the din.Email this Post