Now there's a black art if ever there was one. I'm not short of an opinion or two, and clumsy as I am I recognise that there's a fine line between causing offence and causing people to think in different ways. For what it's worth I aspire to option two but confess that I may have strayed into option one more than once. Take for instance my views towards all revealed religion; I take a no holds barred approach to the teachings and the doctrines. I consider myself well equipped for this given my thirteen years as an evangelical, and when I speak into a situation it's never without having some knowledge of it. I use strong rhetoric, I use the term brain acid. Does this mean I disdain people of a religious persuasion?
No. Well mostly no.
Example; my gorgeous wife has strong religious convictions, as do some of my most cherished friends. I love Joy and I adore them, but that doesn't mean I can't go after the systems of belief themselves. Happily, everybody who knows me knows that I'm not in the habit of dishing personal abuse, yet they're aware that I won't hesitate to put the boot in when it comes to certain teachings. They know Creationism gets me frothing at the mouth, as does the teaching of the Catholic church on contraception. And if you get me started on the child abuse scandal be prepared for a very long night. None of these deserve any respect and I'll respond accordingly.
But what about when I am critical of the Bible, which to many is the most important book on the planet? Am I wrong to do this? Again I assert no, although I acknowledge that my views do cause some a degree of discomfort.
More than that, it's not a direct criticism of individuals, although it's clearly suggestive that I don't think much of their critical skills.
That's enough about religion. For now at least. What about when I wax lyrical against obesity, or excess alcohol? In these cases my critique is of the cultural variety, geared towards challenging common perspectives and shaking up a viewpoint or two. And sex, which I just love talking about, and our attitudes towards it I am sometimes dismissive of closed mindedness and lack of creative thinking.
There's a trend within my blogs. I hope you've noticed. I criticise ideas and ideology, culture and traditional assumptions. That's the name of my game.
It's never to abuse the individual. And if I've ever done so it was clumsy of me rather than overtly intended to belittle. You see, arguments aren't usually won at the time of the confrontation. Pride get's in the way, our defence mechanisms kick in. No, victory is won in the quiet moments, during our softer interludes when we have the time and the space and the poise to see beyond our own barriers.
If, after having read this you still wish to regard me as overtly critical then there's nothing I can do to stop you. But I'd urge you all to see the difference between criticising the person and criticising their ideas. They are not the same thing, and the day we learn this we will, at a stroke, remove whole reams of political correctness from the landscape. And I'm sure as heck up for that.