THE HARSH TRUTH THAT MEN DO GOSSIP MORE THAN WOMEN
First, two quick stories from my days being
indoctrinated educated in undergrad and grad school. In undergrad, my Christian Ministry professor often quoted Karl Barth from Time Magazine, that Christian preachers should keep the Bible in one hand, and a copy of the New York Times [enter other said newspapers] in the other. As a seminarian, one of the worst sermons I ever heard came from a professor who was preached a sermon from a newspaper, trying to show us an example of what a political sermon should look like. Not only did I walk away from class in complete disagreement with the professor, I was disillusioned with the folksy Barthian approach to preaching. Be relevant, use the Bible, and just try not to lose your nice ministry job in the process. It’s enough to make me want to vomit the more I think about it.
I had never considered anything wrong with Barth’s suggestion until I considered what “holding the Bible along with the 24 hour news cycle would feel like.” We get too much information too fast in this day and age, and false rumors ruin lives at alarming rates. One douchey journalist can take a silly talking point and just ruin 30 years of good community service for one woman or man. It happens. Especially in Christianity today, we feel that if there is a preacher who is wrong out there, we take our case to the interwebz and just let them have it! All churchly bloggers, magazines, and newspapers have fallen short of the glory of God.
Then, I came to Zilpha Elaw’s introduction of herself in her own Memoirs. And guess what sin she denounced? It wasn’t slavery or drunkenness or sexual immorality (even though she talks some about 2 of those), but she give a back hand to men who gossip. Really, I do think that U.S. American men have an unrepentant love of gossip, it just comes in the form of sports and politics. Elaw instructs us, “Deal not in tale-bearing; neither be busy bodies in other men’s matters.” She continues, “above all, shun an infidel, obscene, or disloyal newspaper press, which is the scavenger for slander, and the harlequin of character […] Do not defile your eyes with the sight of its columns, nor your hearts with its proximity. Remember, you were called to be saints, not politicians or newsmongers.” (page 52, Sisters of the Spirit).
While Elaw goes on to say that we should look to the title-deeds of the Christian covenant (the Gospel/the Bible) first, it’s not like she does not have anything relevant to say pertaining to the context of her day, with slavery and race, and economics, and drunkenness and what not. She is just saying, put down the newspaper, cut of the television for a few hours, and read the Bible, spending time with the Holy Trinity. Can I get an Amen?
It’s just so interesting that in my argument with others over dominionism, that it is this quote that sums up my side of the argument so well, that we as Christians are called to be saints first, and everything else second. It’s about holiness, not domination. Which leads me back to American men and gossip in the 24 hour news cycle. I think there is something to this, that needs to be explored, but for the most part, is not gossip a play for power in the first place, that it exposes what voices have the power in our society, community, what have you?
Just something to think about.