Do you remember the first time you ever felt betrayed by someone? Maybe your parents broke a promise or lied to you. The time you found out a friend had been talking about you behind your back. Then there’s the doctor who didn’t treat you with respect. Perhaps a teacher took advantage of their power over you and treated you like shit.
As you grow up, you find role models, idols, heroes- people you look to for guidance and strength. They are inspirations and repositories from which we pilfer our ideas and world views in order to piece together our own personalities. They are family members, friends, writers, sports stars, actors, politicians, musicians, artists, clergy, and activists. We do this, whether unwittingly or with obsession. The pedestals on which we attempt to place these people are so high, so precarious, and so distant; is it any wonder they fall? And inevitably they will fall, with a staggering crash. The rubble and settling dust now obscure your way.
Getting to the point- last week there was a huge fallout in the progressive Christian community. An upcoming women’s conference, (WX2015) featuring Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber, was* being facilitated by Tony Jones, a big and divisive personality within the progressive evangelical community. People began crying foul, as Tony Jones has been accused of spiritual, physical, and emotional abuse by his ex-wife. More people piled on when both women declared that they intended to move forward with the conference as was, believing that that was the right decision based in the information they had.
My heart sank. I admired these women, and here they were, seemingly behaving in a way that was at odds with everything I knew about them. I felt betrayed by Rachel most of all, as she frequently calls out abuse and the abusers within the church. More than that, though, it was because I so identify with her journey as a doubting Christian growing up in an evangelical world. I had put my faith in two women, whom I consider to be wise, empathetic trouble-makers, and it seemed that I was wrong.
What was I supposed to do now? I was going in circles, wanting to believe Tony Jones’ ex-wife, but not giving up hope that Rachel and Nadia weren’t abandoning what was right. And what did it say about me, that I had not chosen wisely when it came to in whom I’d placed my trust?
I had to. Sorrynotsorry
I talked it over with Mike and stewed over it for days. I was surprised by how much I was bothered by this.
Then I fucking woke up and realized: Of course they’re going to let you down, you dipshit! They’re people. Just because they’re smart, wise, kickass women doesn’t mean they’re not going to make mistakes. It’s entirely possible that I would make the same decision, were I in their place.
What’s more, how does anyone know for sure that their decision is the wrong one? All we see are carefully constructed responses on Twitter or blogs. We’re not privy to their conversations with God about it. We don’t know about the crackers and ginger ale consumed because this whole ordeal has their stomachs in knots. We have no idea how many times their computers almost faced defenestration because someone was an asshole to them, and how it could all go away if they could just divulge what they know to everyone.
I still don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong, but I don’t blame Rachel and Nadia for the decision they’ve made. Having read both sides of the story, I reckon the actual truth is in there somewhere. Honestly, I think the number of fucks I have to give about it are beginning to run low. I do know that we’re all human and we all make mistakes. One of those mistakes is to place people on pedestals. It’s a horrible mess to clean up once they inevitably crumble.
*Apparently, because of the events of the last week, facilitation of the WX2015 conference has been handed off to Rachael and Nadia.