The courage of my friends’ convictions inspires me to write zealously, unafraid of the inevitability that I will be wrong, shortsighted, or dismissed or despised. Today I enjoyed some conversations (necessary indulgences of friendship, continued delay of work) with friends I cherish who reminded me that most of the things worth saying, I cannot be sure about enough to assume are unassailable, but need to be said enough that I can’t shirk from the risk that comes with loving, hard truth.
I don’t post here on this WordPress site as often as I intended to. This is because the internet can be a brutal place. But so are the publics that Jesus, Socrates, Moses, Martin, Dorothy, Fannie Lou spoke to, fearlessly, to much realer brutality, with much higher stakes. I want to make writing here a regular discipline of exposure, indeed of vulnerability. Making peace with being seen as wrong or misguided as I am, being short of words or too tired to articulate carefully enough, making peace with absorbing opposition and trying to reply with grace.
Those particular friends today talked about walking the tightrope between academia and teaching as a profession, or contending as a confessing follower of Christ. Inhabiting multiple spaces with integrity often requires contortions of language, of the symbols we project and the identifications we clothe ourselves in, a hard labor of multivocality. That’s difficult for me. Can I speak “Jesus” without being painted with the broad brush of “right-wing nut,” or write about the moral tarnish of economic inequality without being marked as a marxist? Can I admit to hopeful admiration of the hard work of teachers without being written off as a compromised cog in the machinery of social reproduction, or talk about “discourse” or “racialization” without being condemned to ivory tower irrelevancy?
Such fears cannot hold back honest engagement, because often, to love is not to hide. So I confess my timidity this good friday, and I take from my Lord the example of public disgrace, of public foolishness, for the hope of joyful forgiveness set before me, for the chance to find spaces of reconciliation.
This good friday is not a day off for me. It’s a day to remember that courageous conversations about our thirsty souls and our bankrupt systems need to be engaged in. But good friday is also a reminder that, though we might speak up in the hopes of dialogue, we should often expect debate, or even still, dismissal, disgust, disgrace… death. Silent sheep before shearers. Good friday is a reminder that such eventualities do not remove the burden to speak, nor permit us to do so without love in our hearts and others before ourselves. Because courageous conversations begin needed dialogues, but redemption requires pain and sacrifice, wounds of love.