[#] All about hate

I was going to call this post "Apologetics 101", and then I thought maybe I should call it "Adulthood 101", but I settled on this subject line. It's catchy, right?

It's been an very odd week at the centuri0n compound. I started the week with an e-mail from some I respects who said I was mean and shouldn't act "that way", then I got an e-mail from a guy who thinks I hate him because every time he types something it seems apparent he didn't engage what he contests is this otherwise-sound judgment as a Christian, and then I had a series of e-mails from someone who (and later, this person said it was a joke) said I hate them because I think they are gravely mistaken about some factual issues to which both of us have been witness.

Let me start here: before anyone starts up the "I didn't expect you to blog about that" organ and sets the monkey to dancing, the only people on this earth I do not blog about are my wife, my kids, and my employer. If you don't want me to blog about you, don't get involved in my life. And especially consider this: if the only way by which you know me is "the blog", expect that the way in which I will communicate with you and about you is "the blog". It's all fun and games until you're the one I blog about. For everyone else, it's still all fun and games.

you hate me
 it's my pomo haircut, isn't it?
That said, let's consider something: as I have taken the inventory of conscience these conversations have rightly called up, the internal auditors came up with what I thought was true before the conversations started. That is, I have a list exactly one person long of people I find completely and utterly despicable, and I haven't interacted with that person directly in a LONG TIME in blogger time. One person who, if pressed, I might say I "hate".

Let's assume, for the sake of not shovelling my morning into the blog, that by "hate" I mean "to feel extreme enmity toward". That's fine as a definition, right? So if I hate this one person, what do I do about it?

Well, it seems obvious, right? I go and I burn down one person's embassy. I start riots against one person. I start milling my own nuclear arsenal against one person.

No? Oh that's right: I'm a Christian, I forgot. As a Christian, what I do is I either seek reconciliation, or, if that is not possible, I flee from the sin and avoid this one person studiously to avoid wrong-doing.

Now, here's the rub: somebody's going to disagree with me about that -- either in a little way or in a big way. I have expressed my opinion, I have made myself the example to avoid offending anyone in particular, but somebody's going to tell me I'm going to hell (more or less) because it turns out that I have someone I hate.

When that disagreement turns up in the meta, on what grounds could I say that the person seeking to correct me -- who disagrees with me and could be (hypothetically) right -- hates me? Would that be reasonable -- or better yet, would it be warranted? How about funny -- would it be funny to say that a person hates me because they disagreed with me?

Now, you can be sure if someone said, "cent: repent from the sin of hate before it hurts you," and I said, "bub: you hate me. Don't say things like that about me," that would not be the end of it. It's the meta: we can get 30 comments around here on almost anything. If I brushed someone off as "hating me" for telling me I was wrong, I'll bet the exchange would go on for a week -- especially if I defended such a statement. If the other person defended their view, would it then be useful or reasonable to say that this new person "hates" me?

I can promise you that the other person doesn't hate me. I may be wrong; they may be wrong. Either way, I'll bet that hate had nothing to do with why they tried to correct me or why I tried to correct them.

Listen: offering correction is not hatred. Even if it is wrapped in snark, offering correction is not hatred. Sending out the lynch mob is hatred; a random physical beating is hatred; burning down your house is hatred; getting you fired unjustly is hatred. Offering correction is not hatred.

We all make mistakes. You know, I make mistakes -- like the time I accused Derek Webb of going Catholic on us. That was a mistake -- to which I pretty promptly offered a stand-alone, no-qualification retraction and apology. It didn't take a convocation of the global blogger's congress to draft a motion calling on me to stand down from my egregious position: somebody in Derek's forums pointed out that there's no way to read that statement except as one intended to hurt, and upon review, they were right. It didn't have to keep coming up.

They didn't hate me: in fact, I think that they showed me a good bit of love to say, "that's a pretty hurtful statement", and it would have been inside the bounds of love to tell me (using my own medicine) "the logic cent used to get 'Derek's going Catholic' from the interview in question is about as useful as a ham sandwich in Mecca, and just as offensive."

There's no hate in that. And saying there is doesn't advance either argument: it is an attempt to leverage the emotional distress someone with a good conscience ought to feel over the act of "hating". And in that, what kind of act is it that attempts to falsely leverage someone's conscience for the sake of ending (or winning) an argument?

There's no hate in disagreement: there is hate in using "shut up, you hate me" as the substitute for an argument because it attempts to replace reason and true love -- which is the love of the truth first -- with a lie for the sake of personal gain.

There are at least ten applications of that we could talk about, but you are smart enough to have an internal dialog over that on your own. I have to show my boss how much I love him by doing what he asked me to do in order to get paid tomorrow.