What exactly should one do with “strong, passionate feelings”, when they’re at odds with your friends’ opinions? Well, sometimes, if your opinions are strong and passionate enough, you don’t exactly have perfect control over what you utter… it just comes out. And afterwards you’re maybe a little concerned about how offensive you came across.
Nearly two months ago a friend pointed me at a rather, um, “interesting” book. The book, according to me, as well as the two good friends I shared it with (for, uh, “shock value”), is bullshit. (Excuse my crude language. It should serve to best illustrate how exactly I feel about it.) So tonight, at a “party”, I happened upon a conversation singing praises of that book. This did not really come as a huge surprise, I expected that kind of viewpoint from at least one or two people in this group of friends. Why did I find it so terribly disturbing then? Why did it make my blood boil? So much so that I ended up blurting out wonderfully undiplomatic (euphemistically described, of course) rants against it? (I might even have used the “bullshit” word in polite company. Oh the horror! <grin> And I can’t even remember if I did or not.) Was it because I was so hoping that they might just surprise me, that our viewpoints are not so “incompatible”? I think the anger is the result of months of frustrations and feelings of hopelessness trying to figure out how to deal with exactly this kind of matter – there just isn’t an easy answer, or an answer at all, rather.
I am also concerned that such rants might end up driving friends away – something I really don’t want to do, I love these people. Opinions differ. People make mistakes. Am I exhibiting judgementalness? Hypocritical judgementalness, since I so love to condemn judgementalness? (I don’t think so, since the book is bullshit… yea, I’m consciously being ironic here. Warped sense of humour.)
Should I be keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself, simply avoid getting involved in conversations where I disagree? I don’t think so, that doesn’t seem right. But I guess I could learn to be more diplomatic firstly, and secondly not barge into conversations that I am not already a part of. That is exactly what I did, and it isn’t the best approach. I guess I could first test the water and figure out if there is interest in my opinion, before sharing it. But that is disregarding the “strong/passionate feeling” again. It would require suppressing passion, which feels the same as being “untrue to yourself”?
Well, back to the book… Some friends found the book very useful, it meant a lot to them. It is not my place to deny them that? Some stories speak more to some people (have more meaning, “usefulness”, or influence) than to others, of course. If they find the book useful, why should I be bothered? If they read it agreeing that it is “fiction”, but still found it useful, would that be “acceptable”? (Fiction can be very useful for teaching.) Is it then just my frustrations with people “believing” what I (and many others), uh, “know”, to be bullshit?
OK, I have to mention the book, this is all too much in the air right now. The discussion (I’m hoping a good little discussion develops) needs some concrete material/example to work with. The book I’m referring to is Choo Thomas’ “Heaven is so Real!”. You can take a look at the book’s website to get the marketing blurb, but more importantly/usefully, take a look at this discussion, in Afrikaans (apologies to my English-only readers, but this post isn’t particularly relevant to you).
My personal opinion about the book can be summed up as “It’s bullshit like this that gives Christianity a bad name”. To further add to the example of how “judgemental” I am: no, I haven’t read the book. If I had unlimited time, I would love to read it, and provide a much more informed review. However, my time is limited and precious to me, especially right now (I have to finish my thesis), so I have to do what all humans do all the time – make a decision based on limited information. (And I feel I have more than enough information. I do have no desire to waste time on bullshit. OK, so I used that word six times in one post, does that count as one transgression, or six? )
All comments welcome. (That includes those that sing praises to the book. I can suggest maybe posting those anonymously, if you feel concerned about responses you might receive from some of my other readers. You will still have to provide an email address, but only I will ever see it.)