Tonight I shared and then deleted a link to a blog post (someone else’s, not mine) entitled “A Christian Defense of Matt Walsh.” When you click on the link, it takes you to a blank page. I thought it was funny. Honestly, I still do. I justified sharing it by noting that the edge in the post was fair given Walsh’s regular schtick: abrasive criticism of anyone who doesn’t see the world as he does. I ultimately took it down for three reasons:
- Most importantly, I think it has become too easy and too common to fire generalized shots at people we don’t like, and though I kind of liked this one, it was still that.
- I don’t have time or energy or headspace to rent to Matt Walsh and any scrum that might pop up about him (there was no scrum yet, but scrums tend to follow that guy around). Just being honest.
- I realized the post is kind of a trap. If someone defending Walsh balked at its harshness, they would kind of have to pick whether they wanted to defend Walsh or oppose harshness, because it’s tough to do both. Even though that may be a fair point to make, I’m not interested in trapping my friends, even the ones who like Matt Walsh’s stuff.
I do think humor and criticism can be good and fair, even in the church. And maybe this kind of thing is fine. But I’m more sensitive about these things than I used to be because they are happening in a broader culture that is rapidly losing the capacity for grace and is often just too darn lazy to really listen and enter into productive dialogue in disagreement. So the little barbs like this one don’t seem so little to me anymore, even if I think they are true…or true with appropriate context.
But that context matters. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to make a case that there is no truly Christian defense for much of what Walsh writes and how he writes it. I just think we’re all better off when that case is made with a little care and nuance. I’m not terribly familiar with the guy who authored the title of this blank post, but I suspect he has done some of that in other posts. Regular readers of his blog may have lots of context. But we are now all publishers in a viral/meme culture, so our provocative words are often and easily divorced from the context.
Is this one a big deal? Probably not, and I don’t mean to attach artificial drama to it. It’s more fun to call someone a troll or be clever about their sin or silliness. It was more fun to just share the post and giggle each time someone liked it, imagining the look on each of their faces as they clicked on the link wondering whether they were going to have to defriend me, then waited for the text of the post to load, then got it. That was more fun. But then I was reminded that for all of my strong feelings about us learning to communicate with charity and grace, it’s still easy for my own bias to blind me to sins in myself that I immediately call BS on in others. And there is no Christian defense for that.