Tuesday, May 06, 2008
The Doctor Is In The House
The following is a slightly edited version of a post on HOB/D by Dr. Gordon Gritter, a board certified and distinguished psychiatrist and long-time deputy to General Convention (the names have been omitted to protect the guilty). Dr. Gritter and I have worked together on Committee #10, Urban and Social Concerns.
I found it a very helpful explanation of the hostile jeering that I sometimes read on HOB/D and, most frequently, in the posts and comment section of some of my ‘favorite’ neo-orthodox, evangelical, neo-Puritan Blogs.
I’ve often referred to them as “The Bullies.” Gordon’s post describes their behavior as “hostile jeering.”
Dr. Gritter also reminds me that the classic definition of depression has to do with suppressed or repressed anger. People who struggle with depression often display (you should excuse the expression) an undercurrent of hostility, sometimes manifested as bickering, sarcastic humor, hopelessness, rigid system of belief, suspicion of those in authority, high expectations and sharp, often unwarranted criticism of self and others.
This isn’t about ‘armchair psychology’. This is about trying to understand those who have such an intense need to demonize me and other LGBT people and our liberal and progressive allies.
There may yet be a way for me to comprehend the dynamic of evangelical zeal and the often intense hostility that characteristically accompanies any resistance to conformity to their beliefs. If I can understand it, perhaps there is a way that I can be more obedient to Jesus’ command to love my enemies.
For I have been persuaded that loving ones enemies is the only pathway to peace.
Here’s Dr. Gritter’s post, which he has generously given me permission to reproduce "anywhere you think it might help". Tell me what you think.
There are some on the HOB/D Listserv who seem to delight in hostile jeering. Their behavior on this list repeatedly earns them indignation and angry responses, which is then turned into more jeering.
Perhaps it is time to comment on the characteristics of hostile jeering.
1) It is a universal experience. All of us can readily recall such experience during childhood and sometimes later. The obvious intent of such behavior is to produce embarrassment, humiliation, and intimidation for the victim, and thus conformity, power, and status for those who jeer. It is often very effective, as we all know. We also know that it is often very abusive. Furthermore, although it often does produce behavioral conformity, it also produces anger and retaliation.
2) Hostile jeering is disapproved by parents and teachers because of its abusive and inflammatory characteristics. Thus, most of us, as adults, learn to avoid such behavior.
3) As can be readily recognized in current political campaigns, hostile jeering elicits observations such as: “Now it’s getting ugly !” There is widespread recognition that such ugliness produces no good results, and it distorts the necessary and appropriate processes.
4) Historically, it has long been known that hostile jeering can escalate into irrational individual and mob behavior, riots, and lynching. The Gospels and The Acts of the Apostles contain vivid examples. E.g.: Pilate, as a Roman administrator, was quite correct in recognizing that the crowd which was jeering at “The King of the Jews” could very easily get out of control, with disastrous results. Paul’s experience was similar, and so is ours up to today.
In our present situation in TEC and WWAC there is, of course, plenty of room for honest criticism and disagreement, but the jeering behavior toward Archbishop Williams, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, Bishop Robinson, and many of the rest of us, seems often inappropriate, offensive, and unacceptable on this list.
What kind of example are these Christian leaders setting for their own people? Is what we see here on HOB/D contributing to the appalling behavior of some people on the blogs, which is infinitely worse than that which appears on HOB/D?
Perhaps it is time for us to insist that hostile jeering is juvenile, insulting, unproductive, and unChristian. Always. Every time.
Someone give the Doctor an "AMEN!"