Friday, September 3, 2010

My Head in the Sand...

For the first time in four years of blogging, I simply haven't wanted to write much here for the past two weeks. It's an emotional thing.

See, I've been called to the carpet by an acquaintance from my home school co-op.


For this blog.

Specifically, for calling myself a "contemplative Christian" in my Blogger profile.

This person has written me that being a "contemplative Christian" is, in her words, "an oxymoron." The e-mail strongly implied that if I regard myself as a "contemplative," then I'm not a Christian.

I am a thin-skinned person. Very much so. I cry at e-mails rejecting the publication of my poems. I even cry at AT&T commercials.

Critique of any kind is difficult for me as I tend to beat myself up about anything and everything. And receiving what I consider to be a rather harsh e-mail questioning my faith from an acquaintance is world-rocking for me.

I know...I know...grow up, right?

But the whole thing makes me want to pull back and do my ostrich imitation--burying my head in the sand and vainly attempting to ignore the situation.

I am sooooooooo NOT a person who deals well with confrontation. To tell the truth, I run from it. Or, at least I use my cane at a much quicker pace than usual.

So, in addition to being busy-as-all-get-out with homeschooling and preparing for teaching my new courses at Class Day and Brave Writer, I have been in knots over the e-mail that still is burning a hole in my inbox.


I know. If I just deal with it, it will make me feel much better. And I will.



With head firmly entrenched in the sand,


sarah said...

oh dear, ((((hugs)))) People can be so mean, can't they? Especially those who are narrow-minded and refuse to believe anything but their own viewpoint is valid. But more generally, how could anyone think Contemplative Christianity is not a real thing? I'm completely bemused. Isn't contemplation central to Christian practice? Er, Bible study? Er, prayer? I googled the term and found plenty of sites focussed on that approach.

I'm sorry, I usually try to be charitable in cases like this and attempt to see things from the other's point of view - but really, I can't see what would justify person to email someone to critique their religious practice! I can only assume she meant well, and didn't have what it took to speak to you quietly in person.

Dear Suzanne, I wish you strength and calm and many blessings at this time.

Susanne Barrett said...

Thank you, dear Sarah. Your kind words are a balm to my battered soul. I assume she meant well too; she's a gentle person who has always been kind and encouraging to me...which makes the e-mail more difficult to understand and to respond to.

Thank you again for your encouragement and kind heart. I so appreciate you!

Dancingirl said...

I'm not sure I understand why she thinks its an oxymoron, but you can tell her you take that as a compliment, that oxymorons express truth! Nothing expresses some ideas better than oxymorons. Paradox exists.

Susanne Barrett said...

Very true, Becky. She apparently believes that anything "contemplative" is New Age/occultish; she implied that Christians cannot be contemplatives or vice-versa. The unspoken implication was that I'm not a Christian. Personally, I don't see any paradox--we are to contemplate God's Word, His Creation, His grace and salvation, plus truth, goodness..."think about such things" as Philippians 4:8 says.

How can I worship Him without contemplating Him?

Now *that's* a paradox! :)

Thanks for the idea of taking it as a compliment--that's a positive way of thinking about it. Very helpful. :)

sarah said...

Eek, I suddenly thought to myself out of the blue, "I spelled Susanne's name with a Z!" Please forgive me, sometimes my brain doesn't fully engage.

I do understand the anxiety many Christians have about the New Age. Perhaps she feared you would be drawn away from true doctrine by the pretty rainbows of the New Age, as represented in her mind by the word "contemplative", and so cared deeply and sincerely about your religious "safety".

I am sure Love is in this situation somehow, whether it be your forgiving her, or her learning to express herself better, or other people reading this post and opening their hearts to new ways (or old ways!) of thinking about Christianity.

sarah said...

Oh and lol, I just noticed on your sidebar twitter updates, Agentausten09 writes "I wish I could write "I. DON'T. CARE." on student papers at times, too. Just when they're not giving me their best work. I have done this! In a nice way, of course! I do like a joke with my students ;-) And it works far better than kind gentle guidance for some of them :-)

Susanne Barrett said...

Yes, I agree--the fear of the New Age Movement is behind all this fear of the word "contemplative." I wish both women (the one who posted on our home school forum and the one who sent me the e-mail) would have just asked me, "What do you mean by 'contemplative'"? rather than assuming the worst.

My husband advised me to change my Blogger profile to remove "mystic" and define "contemplative" as meditating on Scripture, and to leave the situation at that. He's a wise man, so I've taken his advice.

Thank you, Sarah, so much for your caring words and your loving attitude. I am so glad to have a friend like you--even if you are on the other side of the planet. But my best friend from high school lives in Sydney, so I'm rather used to long-distance friendships. :)

CC said...

I am so sad to hear that you have been going through this. I have always thought both terms (mystic and contemplative) to hold so much beauty and focus on God. What is important is God's love for you. I know you can rest assured He takes your contemplation as love. Sarah and Becky share very good points and perspectives. Sending you hugs. Hope to give you a hug in person soon!

Susanne Barrett said...

Thanks so much, Carmen! I fully agree with you about both terms which can indeed focus beautifully on Christ. I just love contemplating His He indeed desires us to do.

Hoping to hug you soon, too! When is the next Contemplative Monday at Mission San Luis Rey?

Jane D. said...

(((((((Susanne))))))) I have only just caught up with reading your blog and am so sorry you have had such angst about this.

I have never heard of anyone taking offence at the word contemplative, infact in a lot of anglican churches, contemplative services and prayers are very often said.

I am really pleased that you haven't felt the need to remove the word from your blog profile and am pleased to see others supporting you with this as well x.

Susanne Barrett said...

I love the contemplative prayers of the Anglican tradition, Jane. It's one of the major reasons I attend an Anglican church on a weekly basis. The whole point is to pray the Scriptures, to meditate on them, and to give God all glory, honor, and praise. One can't get more "fundamental" than that.

Your support, and everyone else's, has been so encouraging to me. Thank you, dear Jane, and thanks to everyone! Your kind words have indeed been a healing balm to my soul. xxx

Luke said...

I find that often the hardest part of responding these kinds of accusations is figuring out what the accusation really is... and why they think it's important. Often asking for further clarification can help the discussion move along.

Hang in there and on the Grace of God as you seek to follow Him; contemplatively or otherwise [smile].



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