Give it a rest

This week Challies entered the confessional after meeting with the Bishop of Nice, Rick Warren. And, you know, whatever -- it was standard Challies -- which is to say, fair and balanced almost to the fault of not actually offering any judgment at all (sorry, Tim). But you should read it just for the sake of being up on these things.

Here's why I'm blogging it. In that piece, Tim said this:
I wondered, had I always been fair to Warren? As David and I spoke it suddenly dawned on me that Rick Warren is a real person. He isn’t a robot or a really clever computer who spits out books and sermons, but a real guy. And as a real guy, he is aware of some of the controversy that surrounds him—including reviews and articles written by the likes of me. And as I’ve often had to do in the past, I had to pause to consider whether I would say to Warren face-to-face what I’ve said about him in my reviews and articles. This is not to say that I’ve ever accused Warren of heresy or torturing kittens. But I have commented on the nature, the completeness of the gospel he preaches—surely a topic that is close to his heart.
And it seems to me that this is the new mea culpa on the internet these days: "I just suddenly realized [fill in here] is a real person -- I never thought of that before."

Oh heaven, please.

In a day and age when we periodically get lectures about "incarnational living" and all manner of word-made-flesh moralisms, when someone starts up with the tom-foolery that they just now realized they were taking to or about flesh and blood and not to one of the Decepticons or a monster from a Hellboy movie, I have to refrain from starting a controversy about my own language.

Really? They weren't real people to you? Listen: Dr. Doom is not a real person to me, so when he starts monologuing about his pantheism or his spiritism or his egoism or whatever, he's a comic book character who is usually drawn and written in very broad strokes. He's on about the problem of evil? He is the problem of evil, short and sweet. Next!

We don't refute Dr. Doom, do we? We don't evangelize him or take him seriously. He's in a green cape and an iron mask for pete's sake. that's how we treat people who are not real to us: as objects of entertainment. And if you haven't done this, you're not guilty of objectifying anyone, so don't give me your phony unburdening -- it's patronizing.

And that's not just for Challies -- that's for all of you out there who are trying to show me how self-aware you are. "I just realized they are people," is something a 16-yr-old can say credibly. If you have had kids or have been married for long enough to have at least one good fight where you were flat-out wrong, you know people are real. You have the equipment. If you're just now using it, you have a lot more to apologize for than merely giving Saddleback an elbow to the ribcage.

I'm a real person, too: be civil enough to me to avoid this kind of sentimentality and second-rate self-examination.