Freedom of Press(ure)

85194365_c710e951ee11Karl Barth, a prominent Christian thinker in the 20th century, is said to have noted that preachers must hold the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Modified a bit, maybe we should hold the Bible in one hand while reading the news feed on our web browser. Whatever the case, this doesn’t only apply to preachers. Hopefully, if you’ve read my blog at all, you’ve caught on to the fact that this is something I believe we all should do. 

As a resident of the greater Tuscaloosa area (I say that dripping with sarcasm, as if Tuscaloosa were a 3 million person metropolis), we have The Tuscaloosa News. But, as a campus minister, the paper that most often catches my eye is The Crimson White, affectionately dubbed ‘The CW.’ The CW is UA’s student newspaper. It’s a pretty interesting read normally, informative about what’s happening at UA and chock full of sociopolitical commentary… especially these days.

Last Friday, a couple of students from The Capstone (UA is also called The Capstone, FYI) decided to engage in what I perceived to be political satire mixed in with some sure-handed right-wing bias (here’s the article). Now, I’ll be the first to grant that some of what they had to say was probably conjured up in order to stir up controversy. Saying things like “I want [the President] to fail. Miserably” and comparing the Rev. Joseph Lowery to some “crazy homeless guy” will do that. 

What I wonder about, though, is the subtext here. I don’t know these guys. It’d be interesting to meet them and ask them what they were trying to accomplish. But I think what they wrote is somewhat revealing… revealing in the sense that  they’re offering a strong (and, at times, misguided or inaccurate) voice for the feelings of many on campus.

I suppose the natural response for many is to lash out, to attack the guys who wrote this. I hear that. I can understand why people might be angry at them. They say some pretty volatile stuff. In Monday’s CW alone, there were two strongly written rebuttals disputing what these guys had to say: one from a professor, one from a student.

But, all of that being said, I would note that this kind of interaction is healthy. I mean… news flash… we’re a very divided people, ya know? There’s no use in glossing over our difference or pretending it doesn’t exist. If we did that, we’d be ignoring the (crimson) elephant in the room or we’d just let things fester and boil until there would be a chasm too wide for us to even consider crossing.

That’s where dialogue comes into play. I know, I know… I’m using “ministry” words here, but that’s where I’m coming from. It is what it is. So, the question I have as a campus minister is how do we minister in such a context?

Or, put another way, how do people of difference find unity? How do followers of Christ engage in honest conversation without ripping each other’s throats out? Is it impossible? Or can we actually hope to sit people down with differences too many to name… much like the authors of these OpEd pieces… and break bread?

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~ by presbytide on January 27, 2009.

2 Responses to “Freedom of Press(ure)”

  1. This is why I should not blog. I would say things like “maybe those two guys will feel differently when the homeless man is waiting their tables in hell.” No one reads these comments . . . right . . . I mean I can say anything without repercussions . . . right?

  2. James if you want to talk to dave folk I would have to tell you that he would probably offend you. He lived in the same dorm as me last year and I can honestly say that he is not a very classy character. I could rant on him all day, but I won’t. And I agree with Patrick.

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