Toasting Credulity

I’m half tempted to begin an anonymous blog.

Not that I don’t like this blog.  It was designed with a very specific purpose in mind: to chronicle my journey as a priest in the Episcopal Church.  And to that end it is serving me well.

But there are those times I catch myself wanting to write something, sometimes actually writing something, but refraining in the end from publishing the product.  There have even been a few occasions when I did in fact publish something only to delete it after a second thought.  Once I even let something fester publicly until I’d had a good night’s sleep and a friend expressed concern over it the next day.  According to my stats page eleven people saw that one, none of whom said anything–except the one friend.

I don’t really want to hide anything from anyone.  I’m an open book, as my friends and family members will tell you.  But that’s the problem.  I’m too trusting.  I end up writing something, telling everyone who reads it something personal, something vulnerable, something perhaps risky, maybe to my reputation or something.  Then it’s one of two things: either I’ve unintentionally implicated myself and thereby shocked myself off a pedestal someone wrongly placed me on, or I’ve accidentally embarrassed a loved one into a grudge.  Neither turns out well, generally, despite how nice the former one sounds in princple.

What’s wrong if I out myself as a priest who has an especial affection for craft beers, or who regularly daydreams of opening a motorcycle customization shop, or who believes in ghosts and aliens–or at least in the possibility of them?  What’s the matter with admitting that I have as many struggles with the Christian faith as the next person, if not more?  How can revealing my weaknesses in a public forum be held against me?

But, truth be told, people take issue.

Family members and close friends might call me out for mentioning them in any way that paints them unfavorably–even if that unfavorable paint is fourteen layers deep.  Never mind that my goal is to point at the peculiarities of human nature, peculiarities that make us laugh together, with which many people can identify, and which help us grow upon reasonable reflection.  The fourteen-layer deep implication, I want to say, is noticed by no one except the guilty party.  But, I also want to say, it’s not about you.  Get over yourself.  Sheesh!

Or parishioners form judgments.  “What a shame it is that our priest drinks beer,” someone criticizes; while someone else asks incredulously, “How can he let his children watch shows about soulless bodies?”  Tragic, I know.

Or, and this one really irks me, someone twists something I say out of context.  “To put it bluntly, Tim,” I once heard, “that sermon lacked balls.”  And I thought, thanks for the feedback.  But did you read last week’s sermon?  It was so overwhelmingly weighted with tough love that I thought it best to balance it out this week with grace.  I have something like fifty posts now.  Why don’t you read all of them, twice, before offering such hasty criticism?

So I toy with blogging anonymously.

Then I could say what I really think, like. . . .

Oh, but if I go there now I’ll end up rankling someone, surely.  Don’t want people thinking I’ve got no filters.  I’m a priest after all.  They therefore need to trust me.

But don’t you see the irony?  As an anonymous blogger I can be entirely honest.  I can say it like it is, revealing thoughts both sacrosanct and sacrilegious.  And no one will take offense or think any less of me for it.  Yet I’m not actually being entirely honest, am I, for I’m withholding my identity.

On the other hand, with this real, non-anonymous blog, wherein I’m up front with who I am, my name, my vocation, my struggles, my successes, and so on, I need to be wary, to engage many filters, in order to keep credibility.

Changing parties’ names doesn’t help either, by the way.  For guilty parties recognize themselves in blog posts.  And once a person recognizes him or herself in your blog, even if no one else has the remotest chance of recognizing them, even if they’re buried fourteen layers deep, it’s too late.  Credulity’s toast.  With them anyway.

Fiction’s out too.  It just oozes incredulity from the outset.  By definition, after all, fiction is a falsehood.  Or at least it is to some of my readers.  Never mind that fictional stories often convey more truth than reality.  Like the movie I saw recently called About Time.  Try to explain to someone how good it is to find joy in daily life and they might get it in a surface way.  But take them to see this movie and they’ll get it profoundly.  But for me, a blogger whose identity is known to his readers, fiction pushes readers over credulity’s edge.

So I’ll probably publish this post tomorrow, after I’ve had some time to think on it, to determine whether or not it’s guarded enough, whether or not I’ve incorporated enough filters.  Wouldn’t want to risk losing too much credulity, after all.

Maybe I’ll start a new, anonymous blog tomorrow too–after I’ve had time to sleep on the idea.  But, of course, if I do, I’ll never be able to tell you.

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2 Responses to “Toasting Credulity”

  1. John Mackechney Says:

    Stay just like you are. It is your honesty that makes you so lovable. It is like a breath of fresh air.

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