Last week-ish or so, a Relevant Magazine article from a few years ago turned up in my news feed, posted by a friend whose work involves training for prospective ordained ministers. I read it, realized who had written it originally, and commented concerning my opinions of the piece and its author. Because, not long after the Relevant piece was written, I had contributed a three-part series to the Lay Anglicana blog on Lillian Daniel’s When Spiritual But Not Religious Is Not Enough. You can read my responses to her book here. And here. And here.
I stand by my claims. Ms. Daniel does not have the right to give permission for someone to call him or herself Christian, as the title of the Relevant piece suggests she believes she does. Nor does she have the right to deny a person the right to nuance his or her belief or affiliation, or dissociation from belief or affiliation. The Relevant piece is one more demonstration of Ms. Daniel’s arrogance.
I said as much in a comment on my friend’s Faccebook page. My comment was removed. Oh, well. I still find it odd when an institution in decline, such as the churches, ridicules and insults the very people it has alienated–both those who would never darken its doors, and those who, after helping to keep the doors open for decades, have given up and left. Smart organizations do not do this. Smart organizations bust tail to figure out why people don’t “buy” their goods, services, ideas–and then follow up by busting tail to figure out how to overcome that resistance. Smart organizations figure out why formerly-loyal customers or members have left–and then follow up by figuring out how to reclaim their loyalty.
For some odd reason, I don’t think condescension and ridicule and arrogance figure into the formula for smart organizations. Why they should with the churches is a bit beyond my understanding.
Go ahead and read Ms. Daniel’s book. But do not do so without a liberal coating of salt, and without making sure you get the view from the other side. The best starting place I know to do so is Packard and Hope’s Church Refugees, on which I’ve done several posts on this blog.