Just about every time I go out and talk, I invite people to come heckle. I’m mostly joking, but yesterday, someone took me up on it.
Well, he didn’t precisely heckle. He waited until after I’d spoken, and then he called me jaded — three times — and said that he was a fundamentalist and his church isn’t like my old church. He wasn’t from my particular branch of fundamentalism, and he’d felt I’d been too hard on the group as a whole.
It was a fair critique. I am hard on fundamentalism and I reiterated that my exposure to fundamentalism comes through one very peculiar portal, but then he wouldn’t quit talking and I could feel my hackles go up, and when he fake-quoted a scripture to prove a point, I asked him for book, chapter, and verse, which he did not provide. That, as a champeen fundamentalist debater, means you’re making shit up. (I believe he was trying to prove that Jesus was anti-homosexuality, but that’s not possible because Jesus didn’t say one single word about homosexuality; instead, my sparring partner misquoted Paul). He interjected a couple more times, and at one point said that women in his church (he said the name of it, but I forgot) can be anything they want, everything but a senior pastor, at which point I asked if any one else had something to say, because if he couldn’t see the issue with “everything but a senior pastor,” I couldn’t help him.
I did tell him I thought he was proselytizing, and that no one had come for that, but that I very much wanted to talk to him and that we should talk after.
Sadly, when I was finished, I looked around and he was gone.
Brother? I am sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t feel welcome to talk face-to-face, and if there was something in my tone or my language that sent you out the door, I wish I’d been a better person and answered you with at least a little love. I believe, in reviewing the tape, I mostly just waited for you to stop talking so that I could start. Mostly, I wanted you to stay behind so we could argue. I love to argue. But in the end, we accomplished precisely nothing, you and I. You can go back to your corner secure in the notion that I’m a jaded non-Christian, and I can tuck myself in at night having had you reaffirm for me the stiff-necked nature of my people.
I am not happy with that. Are you? I’d still really like to talk and I’ll make you this promise: I will try like anything to listen.