Activity Being Avoided: laundry
Music In My Head: The New Saint Jude — Andrew Bird
Tea Being Drunk: just water
Book Being Read: We Need to Talk about Kevin — Lionel Shriver
On Saturday, I went to an event that had the potential to be many things: gladiator sport, tent revival, snooze fest. Michael Coren, former opponent of same-sex marriage, was reading from his new book Epiphany, and he was doing so at Glad Day Bookshop.
I didn’t know much about Michael Coren. People like him are the sorts who ignite a particularly brief flame of irritation in my consciousness and then fizzle into oblivion. Not being an activist or powerful or charismatic or persuasive or good-looking, I know I’m not going to be able to make these people see reason so they’re not worth the rise in blood pressure. It’s easier on me to leave these eejits to others with more self-possession.
“Eejits”? Yes, eejits. You know my thoughts on this exclusion business. I do occasionally allow people I like to disagree with me; however, if you’re not worth my effort to dislike, you are, therefore, an eejit. Eejit is the most dismissive of snubs.
So, what made the eejit become worthy of my Saturday afternoon? I was interested in why he changed his mind. I wanted to see whether this was, as various people have suggested, a publicity stunt. I wanted to see what it was like to be someone who could–on the face of it, at least–change their mind about something so contentious. I wanted to see, as it’s something I’ve been worried about since I was a teenager, if a Christian who was all het up about Christianity could come off their pedestal and make some connection with the teachings of Christ.
Michael Coren read a little from the book, took an extraordinarily long time and some round-about ways to answer the questions people asked him (the man does like the sound of his own voice), and did not balk when confronted with two-dozen people who could have skinned him alive. He did fairly well when questioned by Michael Erickson, whom he had attacked ad hominem a couple of years ago. People used words like hateful and vituperative, and also words like forgiveness; only forgiveness tripped him up a little.
In general, Michael Coren is worth a few minutes of your time to listen to. (He has some hopeful but not unrealistic ideas as to how the Christian churches are going to wrap their minds around sexuality in the nearish future.) The book… well, he’s a journalist, and the book is written like a column and it makes for a very, very long column: if you don’t mind such a writing style in such quantities, go for it.
What I got out of the afternoon was confirmation of Timshel, pure and simple. You may choose a way of thinking and a collection of rules from which you pick and choose. You may grandstand, insist your ideas are superior to others; you may exclude others because they do not think your ideas are useful. You may voice your opinions, and you may change your mind, and you may put yourself in a situation where you are sitting beside someone on whom you’ve spewed vitriol–and you might get out of this whole thing alive.
It was good to see a bunch of humans being kind to each other. It was good to see that people are allowed to learn, to change their mind. It was good to see that the passionate people I generally agree with did not exclude or bully someone who could have been (still) an eejit.