I left the Gulf Coast last Sunday for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. It wasn’t a retreat or anything like that… It’s just that time of year when we juggle family schedules and see everyone we’re expected to see. We’ve been doing just that until this morning.

On our trip home today, we witnessed a horrible automobile accident. A hundred yards ahead of us, we saw an Isuzu Rodeo skid off the road and turn three bumper-over-bumper flips, one completely airborne, before crashing to a stop upside down. My oldest daughter began crying hysterically, my wife started calling 9-1-1, my youngest daughter began crying, too, and I parked directly across from the vehicle and rushed over to help.

I was the first one to the vehicle, and I will never forget the bloody face of fourteen-year-old, Blake, screaming out the window in pain as the twisted car did it’s best to cut him in two at his waist. The other would-be Good Samaritan cut Blake out of his seatbelt while I went to the other side of the vehicle where Blake’s mom, Ann, lay semi-conscious. I got half-inside the vehicle with her and talked with her, doing my best to keep her awake and yet calm while we waited and waited for help to arrive. It did, and it seems as if both Blake and Ann will miraculously live to tell their version of the story.

So I’ll tell you right off that I’m a bit edgy.

When I finally made it home this evening and began to check my hundreds of emails, it seems that for all the excitement I experienced on the way home, I missed out on some this past week on the blog.

I’ve received a second resignation from a columnist tasked with the “liberal politics” aspect of Desperate Houseflies. I’m sensing a trend here.

Now we’ve had other resignations before in other areas. I’ve been told that the hours are long and the pay sucks, so resignations are to be expected. However, the writers of liberal politics have not cited these reasons (heck, they’re liberals, so long hours and low pay come with the territory). To run a risk by quoting a private email from Sandi, she stated, “I need to surround myself with people who are supportive of me and who love me, not people who want to attack me in the name of Jesus and beat me over the head with a Bible. If I have a story to tell, I should tell my friends or write in a journal. I cannot have a constructive discussion with people who make sniping comments rather than engaging the issues. I would be happy to discuss what I wrote, but not if people are going to be rude and judgmental.”

I’m kind of in a bad mood even with the Christmas lights on right now…

I had this little vision when beginning this blog of having a sort of forum where intelligent friends of mine could challenge the readers (but to admit my selfishness, mostly me) to think in some ways outside our personal comfort zone. I stinkin’ LOVE that sort of stuff. I could have envisioned a blog where we told each other why Churches of Christ had no flaws and why Democrats were going to hell. I could have called it “Personal Comfort Zone” and probably found plenty of contributors and readers given my personal background, but I don’t know why that would have been worth the energy. I’ve had those thoughts pounded in my head for a very long time without having to create a blog for them.

Instead, I’m fairly convinced that this world and its thoughts are a bit bigger than the part to which I have been assigned in my life so far. So I hoped to assemble a cast of characters that would keep our minds open, engage our intellects, and make us laugh. I could not imagine anything better than opening my mind to new and deep thoughts and laughing really hard, too. All in the same blog! Wasn’t this a great idea?!

I had to have my friend Juvenal involved when it all started because no one in my life has ever made me think outside the box like him. But he quit. At the outset, he claimed he would just write the articles and let us comment on them, but as the personal attacks on his thought processes came, he defended himself and went toe-to-toe with the comments, but he eventually grew frustrated with it all and gave it up.

Without Juvenal, I thought about shutting the blog down. Juvenal, to me, sort of typified the whole reason I had for the blog in the first place, but some others wanted to keep it alive, so we kept it going.

I was, however, VERY committed to keeping a day for liberal politics alive (the greatest comfort zone boogey-man in the thinking of the people I’m usually with), so I asked my fellow contributors about adding my good friend, Sandi, to the mix. Sandi is an atheist and witty and articulate and just an all-around great person. Her writing for this blog would not only add thoughts outside my personal comfort zone, but also hanging out with the Houseflies would be a rocket launch outside hers. A potential win-win. Now she can’t take it any longer either.

I didn’t even get a chance to read Sandi’s article this past week before she withdrew it. It seemed that it was something personal to her and that she felt her vulnerability was rewarded with a couple of folks circling up to throw stones.

That people throw stones at viewpoints they disagree with is not surprising. That people throw stones in particular at people espousing liberal viewpoints is especially not surprising – not too many conservative martyrs out there now, are there? That people throw stones in particular at people espousing liberal viewpoints in the name of Jesus… Well, that’s just downright ironic now, isn’t it?

Sandi is a friend of mine, and I love her. Period. No addendums.

On a separate track, Sandi is an atheist who does not share my belief in Jesus. If she were nothing but a category to me (which she is not) – if she were no more than the label of “atheist” to me, and if I were nothing more than the label, “Christian” – then it is my belief from Scripture that my job would be to show her grace.

(This last paragraph solely exists for those who can’t see a human being w/o theological underpinning.)

Funny, but Sandi and I share the same basic outlook on life, something stated by Jesus and popularly assigned the name, Golden Rule. And I learned from Juvenal once that the practice of this concept could also be defined as “basic human decency.” And it was also Juvenal who defined “love” to me better than anyone else ever has as “seeing God in every person you meet and acting accordingly.” I learned this valuable thought from him on this very blog.

I’ve learned a lot from both Sandi and Juvenal, and it just bothers me to no end that they don’t feel welcome in a blog that I created so I could learn more from people like them.

So I think I’m going to quit writing for the blog, too.

I own it, but I won’t delete it – so you guys keep writing as long as you want. I’m sure I’ll be a reader while it lasts. I learn a lot from every contributor on the blog. They are all, in fact, some of my very favorite people in the world.

And I’ll be happy to entertain and respond to any comments to this particular blog posting as well. I probably need to engage in a little dialogue. I am, as stated earlier, a bit edgy right now.

But if Desperate Houseflies is going to end up by natural selection as a blog for (with much apologies to Amy here) primarily conservative Caucasian Church-of-Christ males…

Well, my grand experiment in reaching outside my personal comfort zone has somehow gone awry…


3 Responses to “WELCOME HOME AND MERRY CHRISTMAS (in sarcastic tone)”

  1. DeJon Redd Says:

    I don’t believe we’ll ever really have an idea-exchange as long as any one’s focus remains changing the listener versus changing himself.

    I’m ashamed of my own closed-mindeddnes, legalism and condescending judgement.

  2. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I’m not ready just yet to respond to the emails I’ve received privately in regard to this particular post. But I will. I promise. I’ll just say at this point that if I was hoping for diverse viewpoints, this article itself must be the secret I’ve been missing. The huge spectrum of viewpoints is giving an analytical person like me a headache.

    I also want to say that DeJon’s comment is just wonderful. Leave it to DeJon to say something perfect, then practice it in front of us. Thanks, DeJon.

    I’m doing a little reading in the Sermon on the Mount tonight in “The Message” translation, and in the Beatitudes Peterson paraphrases, “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”

    Just goes to show how far I have to go in this little drama we call life…

  3. jamisuem Says:

    I have been occasionally reading this blog only because Sandi and I grew up together, suffering together in what we thought was an oppressive environment. It saddens me that she’s no longer a part of this….
    It saddens me even more that I too have been guilty of being closed-minded. I immediately see the Church of Christ label on ANYTHING and shut down internally. When Sandi would write, I would read, but rarely did I think to read the other comments without first automatically dismissing them as biased and closed-minded. Awfully closed-minded of me, isn’t it?
    In any case, I will miss reading it..

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