Tag Archives: disagreement

Why We Need to Disagree (at least occasionally)

ben shapiro
Ben Shapiro – Found at DailyWire.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about disagreements recently. I’m no saint. I’ve participated in all kinds of arguments lately regarding folks I disagree with. I’ve disagreed with a Massachusetts elementary school librarian who took exception to the First Lady donating Dr. Seuss books to her school. I’ve disagreed with a former CBS Vice President who didn’t seem to mind that the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting were (apparently) country and western fans and thus Republicans, and owners of firearms. I’ve disagreed with lots of people in the past and probably will continue to do so.

I don’t doubt there are a lot of folks who disagree with me about my stance on certain issues. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t particularly like it. But that doesn’t mean disagreement is a bad thing. Actually, the ability to express disagreement is a good thing. We need to keep doing it.

Why do I believe disagreement is good you ask?

Read the rest at Powered by Robots.

No, this isn’t really on a “religious” topic, but since people in the realm of theological blogging are often in disagreement, I thought this audience might be interested.

The Consequences of Disagreeing

Learn to disagree without creating an unpleasant argument.

A mature disagreement is when two people both listen carefully to the other’s position in order to understand the position and why the person feels that way.

The Torah obligates us to treat each person with respect – even if you disagree.

(For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” pp.125-7)

-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
“Disagree Respectfully”
from “Today’s Daily Lift”

When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of my most recent What I Learned in Church Today blog post including Pastor Randy’s rebuttal to my comments. Though he may not believe this, I’ve been deeply concerned about how what I’ve written affects him and others. I was trying to communicate that in the aforementioned article but I’m not sure I was successful.

My problem is just how far to go in expressing my opinion, either in church itself or on my blog. I guess I could split the difference, since “church” doesn’t belong to me in the sense that I “own” the social and communal space, while I do “own” the communication conduit of my blog. I could keep mum at church and spew all of my thoughts and feelings out into the blogosphere (and I do the latter on a regular basis).

But I don’t exactly keep quiet in church, at least not in Sunday school. Granted, I don’t attempt to start a riot, and I do consciously limit the amount of interaction I allow myself to what I hope is a tolerable degree. I know I’m not always successful in this, however.

But as the quote from Rabbi Pliskin above suggests, the issue isn’t so much disagreement but whether or not respect is maintained. I don’t know if I’ve been doing this very well. When researching R. Pliskin’s write-ups on this topic, a few other entries came up in my search:

People can have diverse opinions. They can have different personalities. They can have different goals and objectives. Even so, they can choose to interact in peaceful ways, and discuss their differences with mutual respect. At times they will work out solutions to their mutual satisfaction, and at times they will not. Nevertheless, they can be calm, and think clearly about the wisest course to take.

(Growth Through Tehillim: Exploring Psalms for Life Transforming Thoughts, p. 92)

Disagree Respectfully

When it comes to being assertive, the ideal is to be able to speak up whenever appropriate and to do so respectfully.

Think of some situations in the past when you were not as assertive as you wish you were. Imagine yourself being able to say anything to anyone (as long as it is appropriate). Then take action to assert yourself in a way that you have not done so before.

(For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,”pp.131-3)

Be Respectfully Assertive

SilenceAh, the words “When it comes to being assertive, the ideal is to be able to speak up whenever appropriate,” accuse me. Is it always appropriate to speak up? Isn’t “silence golden?” Shouldn’t I “go along to get along?”

I think people would be a lot more comfortable around me at church if I really did keep my mouth shut, and I can only imagine I’d cause Pastor Randy fewer headaches and gray hairs if I kept his sermons out of my blog. It’s going to come to that. Given the tone of the comments on the blog post in question, I don’t see any other reasonable choice on my part, especially if “respectfulness” is to be maintained rather than me just being “assertive” all the time. I’ve already taken it too far.

In exploring whether or not my pontificating about church is a sign of my personal arrogance, I consulted Rabbi Noah Weinberg’s series 48 Ways to Wisdom and specifically Way #29: Subtle Traps of Arrogance. Am I really all that smart or well-educated in theological knowledge that I always know better than trained and educated Pastors and Bible teachers? Am I infallible? Certainly not. Then where does this drive to learn more and express what I believe come from? You’d think I’d be smart enough to shut up, listen and learn.

Who is wise? He who learns from all people.

-Pirkei Avot 4:1

On the other hand, self-expression, particularly in writing, is how I process information and make sense out of it (which is what I’m doing right now). Until then, it’s just a bunch of thought fragments floating around in the global context of my mind or at best, scrawled and scribbled notes on torn and frayed pieces of paper. Dressing them up, so to speak, by blogging creates a framework within which I can organize that information and even respond to it in some fashion. It has the added (if sometimes dubious) benefit of eliciting responses from interested readers on the web.

R. Weinberg’s article ended with a bullet point summary:

  • If you’re busy patting yourself on the back for what you’ve achieved, you won’t make an effort to do more.
  • If you’re constantly defending your opinions, you’ll never be open to hearing new ideas.
  • If you are arrogant about your ideas, then you are limiting yourself.
  • If you’re grateful, you will grow.
  • If you experience pleasure in doing the right thing, then look for more pleasure.

I suppose the point stating “If you’re constantly defending your opinions, you’ll never be open to hearing new ideas” is the most applicable one since by the very definition of my “mediations”, I’m expressing opinions that are in need of defending, at least at the moment when someone disagrees. I guess turning it around, I’m the one disagreeing with traditional Church doctrine, and that has resulted in Pastor Randy having to comment on my blog to defend his position, something he wouldn’t have had to do if I’d have kept my hands off the keyboard and my opinions of his sermon to myself.

I suppose it also comes down to whether or not I’m limiting myself by being arrogant about my ideas.

study-in-the-darkBut these aren’t ideas I’ve cooked up out of “ham fat,” so to speak, but out of hours and hours of reading, listening to lectures and sermons online, and writing, and pondering, not in order to puff myself up, but to authentically read and understand the Bible as a single, unified document containing the single, unswerving intent and plan of God to redeem Israel and thus redeem all of Creation. For me, Christian theology and doctrine doesn’t provide the solution. No matter how I slice it, Christian doctrine forces the plan of God to “jump the tracks” at least once in the Bible, in order to take the plain meaning of Torah and the prophecies in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and make them fit traditional Christian beliefs as they have evolved in the centuries of the “post-Nicene Church”.

If the Bible is as Evangelical Christianity says it is, then both God and the Bible don’t make sense and further, they (in my opinion) pull a major bait-and-switch on Israel and the Jewish people.

I just want the Bible to make sense and from my current perspective, I believe it does.

But back to the question of what to do about this?

In general, writing little theological essays from my amateur’s point of view probably does little if any harm. According to one estimate, as of November 2013, there were over 152 million blogs in the Internet, and a new blog is being created somewhere in the world every half a second.

That’s a lot of blogs.

Among all of that, my one little blog is completely insignificant. Of course, I occupy a rather rarefied space in the blogosphere, not only as a religious blogger (plenty of those around), but one who specifically comments on non-Jewish participation in Messianic Judaism (or maybe it should be expressed as “Messianic Gentilism” or something like that).

Of course, the second I comment on a specific individual, such as a Pastor, or on the teachings of a particular church, things narrow down considerably in terms of the “influence” or at least the “impact” I can have on people’s lives.

I really don’t think I’m being arrogant in the sense that I’m always right and people had better see things my way or else, but that isn’t to say I couldn’t have done things better or have been more considerate. Where’s the fine line between being respectfully assertive and being arrogant? Where’s the line in the sand separating humble respect from passivity or censorship (even if self-imposed)?

The only solution that avoids hurting others in relation to church is to not talk at or write about church. Oh, I guess I can say “Hi, how are you,” but expressing a theological opinion in Sunday school will have to be a “no-no,” and certainly writing any commentary on sermons or Sunday school lessons must be taken off the table completely.

the-crossThat’s probably like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped but it’s better than continuing to hammer away at a nail that’s already been beaten flat (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor).

Better late than never.

What do I do from here? I have a pretty good idea about that but will let it cook for a day or two (or more — or less) longer just to make sure. Given a good enough reason, I can go off half-cocked but I’d like to avoid it if at all possible. I spent a long time praying and pondering before returning to church. I’ve made a nearly two-year investment in Christian community. In the aftermath of what I’ve done, I have to see just what is left…if anything.

Are People Evil or Just Different?

shabbat-queen-elena-kotliarkerLet your home be open to all.

-Ethics of the Fathers 1:5

I have traveled to many communities to lecture on various subjects. I have also attended other guest speakers’ lectures. Invariably, after the lecture, the speaker is invited to a home where a small group of people gather for an informal chat, while hors d’oeuvres are served.

It has been very distressing to me that even when my audience appears to receive my talk well, no one may invite me to a post-lecture gathering. Why? I keep kosher, many of these people do not, and they find it awkward that the guest would not partake of their refreshments.

This baffles me. If my lecture was not well received, I could understand people’s reluctance to invite me. But when the response is virtually ecstatic, and I receive immediate requests for repeat performances, why, then, am I shunned? If I were a person of any other faith or nationality, I would be welcomed in everyone’s home. Why are the doors of my own people closed to me? The abundance of kosher foods available no longer makes keeping kosher an inconvenience.

Observant Jews adhere to kosher laws as a matter of conviction. Even if someone is not of that mindset, he or she can at least maintain a home where every Jew can be welcomed (or at least have a cup of coffee!).

So many doors are closed to Jews. We should not be closing our doors to our own.

Today I shall…

…try and make my home a place where every Jew can feel welcome and comfortable.

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Tammuz 5”

I know a lot of you Christians reading this may be asking what’s so special about the Jewish people that we should go to extra lengths to accommodate them. Why would Rabbi Twerski specify that he should make his home feel welcome and comfortable for just Jews and that all Jews should do the same for other Jews? Is it only a “kosher food” thing? Why shouldn’t we Gentile Christians be given extra consideration? After all, what are we, chopped liver?

No, it’s not that at all. But if we expand on the thought begun by Rabbi Twerski and acknowledge that the Jewish people were specifically chosen by God (and the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ didn’t “unchoose” them), and we know that they have been especially targeted for persecution and even destruction, even to this present day and even among the body of believers, then we must realize that as disciples of the Jewish Messiah and worshipers of the God of Israel, we have a special duty to show love to those whom God loves.

Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name: If this fixed order were ever to cease from my presence, says the Lord, then also the offspring of Israel would cease to be a nation before me forever.

Jeremiah 31:35-36 (NRSV)

As part of his blog post for today, Derek Leman discusses the interdependency between the Jewish people and the nations, and the nations as particularly represented by Gentile believers: Christians. At least one of my reviews of the Rudolph and Willitts book Introduction to Messianic Judaism (I gave my Pastor a copy but with his brutal reading and studying schedule along with his Pastoral duties, he won’t be able to crack it open until the latter part of July), also addressed this mutual dependence and interlinking relationship between believing Jews and Gentiles.

We really can’t do without each other and yet, the divisiveness between some believing Jews and Gentiles, at least on the web, exists in sharp contrast to this principle, more’s the pity.

how-it-feels-to-disagreeI was encouraged by one non-Jewish Hebrew Roots supporter when he said (amid a sea of negative comments), “That being said, I agree with your sentiments re: not vilifying each other…We should be in the business of building one another up, not tearing one another down.

I agree, too.

It stands to reason that as human beings, we are going to disagree with each other on a good many things. As religious human beings, we are going to disagree about religion. Persecutions, pogroms, and inquisitions have all been justified in the name of God. Wars have been fought and many people have died over religious differences. Today, the weapons of choice, at least in the western nations, are not bombs and bullets, but words and blogging. We don’t just disagree, we attack, we “demonize,” we declare our opponents not only wrong but actually “evil” and that their teachings are “sending people to hell.”

Is that really what we’re supposed to be up to as disciples of the Master? What ever happened to the “unified” (as opposed to “homogenized”) body of Christ? If the so-called body of Christ were actually a human body, it would be dismembered into hundreds of individual pieces and lying dead in a large pool of blood; a scene that could only appeal to the Jeffrey Dahmer’s of the world (no, I’m not accusing anyone of being like Dahmer, I just said that for effect).

The comment I quoted above about “not vilifying each other” is an exceptionally rare one on the web. It has been said that the Internet was made for (adult material), but it seems more realistic to say that it was made to encourage rudeness and divisiveness. Most people “hide” either behind some pseudonym or, if the blog or discussion board allows it, behind the mask of “Anonymous.” From that perch, any one can say anything that occurs to them in the emotional “heat of battle” with no apparent consequences. Almost no one would say the same things or at least not in the same way if they were having a face-to-face conversation.

Accept truth from whomever speaks it.

-Maimonides, Kiddush HaChodesh 17:24

Some extremely choosy people will accept guidance or teaching only from an acknowledged authority, because they consider accepting anything from anyone of lesser stature a demeaning affront to their ego.

Among my physician colleagues, I have observed this phenomenon when a patient requests consultation. Those doctors who have self-esteem and know that they are competent have no problem accepting consultation, but those who are less self-confident may interpret the request for consultation as an insinuation that they are inadequate. They may be insulted by this request, and if they do comply with it, they will accept as a consultant only the chief of the department at a university medical school or some other renowned personage. Any other consultant constitutes a threat to their ego, an admission that “he may know more than I do.”

Physicians are not the only guilty party; professionals and artisans of all types can also show a lack of self-confidence by displaying this intellectual snobbery.

The Talmud states that truly wise people can learn from everyone, even from people who may be far beneath them. Limiting ourselves to learning only from outstanding experts is not only vain, but it also severely restricts our education. Humility is essential for learning, and we should accept the truth because it is the truth, regardless of who speaks it.

Today I shall…

…try to learn from everyone, even from someone whom I may consider inferior to me in knowledge.

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Tammuz 7”

Let’s change “consider inferior to me in knowledge” to “different from me,” or “someone who disagrees with me,” or “someone I don’t like.”

Agreeing with a statement made by someone you don’t like is probably one of the most difficult things for a person to do. Imagine you are against another person because of their religious, political, or moral beliefs. You disagree with each other on almost everything. Then the person says something that you can’t disagree with because it is also one of the principles you choose to live by. Imagine they said something like, “I agree with your sentiments re: not vilifying each other…We should be in the business of building one another up, not tearing one another down.

agree-or-disagreeWhat would you do? What would you say? Would you…could you say anything?

If you agree with them, you have to admit the two of you have something in common. If you agree, then you are saying there is at least one point on which the two of you can stand together, a platform that could potentially be used to construct a dialog and to find other points of agreement. You might even have to admit you could learn to cooperate on certain projects to accomplish goals you both believe are worthy.

What a shock. Could you do it?

Imagine you have either publicly or in your thoughts, vilified someone. You can’t stand them. You think they’ve done you wrong. You think their religious teachings are false, dangerous, heretical. You believe what they say “sends people to hell.”

You’ve worked up quite a justified dislike if not hate for that person. And then they go and ruin it all by saying something you completely agree with…a truth that’s impossible for you to deny (at least unless you are willing to go back on stuff you’ve said in the past).

It is possible to disagree with someone, even strenuously, and not personalize the conflict (I know…that’s probably a radical idea to some folks). I won’t name names but I recently publicly disagreed with someone, a leader within his own organization. Although I acknowledged that this person has many fine qualities, I expressed concern over an area of behavior I thought could be improved, relative to everything I’ve said so far in this blog post.

Sadly, that was interpreted as a personal attack by several people including an employee of the person I was mentioning, resulting in a list being posted of this person’s many fine recent activities “proving” that he was without fault and that I was wrong to criticize that individual about anything whatsoever.

This is the sort of discussion that is “crazy making.” A person can be a good person and still be vulnerable to human faults, frailties, and temptations. I’d like to think I’m a good person but I know for a fact that I make mistakes (hopefully writing this blog post isn’t one of them) and have faults that I continue to address (being married is an enormous help in this area since spouses are just made to point out how we should improve ourselves).

We really need to be able to acknowledge others we disagree with when they do good, and even if we find it necessary to disagree from time to time, said-disagreement doesn’t mean the other person if evil, rotten, criminal, or any other bad thing. They may even say the truth about stuff sometimes and we may even agree with them sometimes.

There are days when I think there are very few voices of reason and sanity on the web. I know that most of us are trying to be good people and to serve God to the best of our abilities. If we could acknowledge that quality about each other, maybe we’d be heading in the right direction and finally, finally starting to obey our Master:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 34-35 (NRSV)

I promise that by Monday, I’ll feel better and that will be reflected in my blogging but in the meantime, I just want to take this opportunity to encourage you, me, and everyone else who puts their thoughts and feelings out into the public realm to shape up, start reading our Bibles more, and start realizing what God is actually trying to tell us. Hint: The Bible doesn’t say, “be more snarky.”

The Chavruta Illusion

Study with a chavruta, or partner, is a hallmark of traditional Jewish learning. Together you break your heads on the texts. Two minds applied to a problem are almost always better than one.

Each checks and corrects the misconceptions of the other, questioning and sharpening the other’s ideas, while the necessity of articulating one’s thoughts to another person brings greater clarity than learning alone. Indeed, the Talmud goes so far as to say that one who learns Torah alone becomes stupid! (Berachot 63a)

Chavruta comes from the Hebrew word meaning, simply, “friend.” Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) states the fundamental importance of companionship in Jewish learning (and in general): “Make for yourself a teacher, find yourself a friend, and judge every person favourably.”

-Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Periodically, I find myself on the receiving end of a certain amount of criticism because of my opinions, my beliefs, and sometimes “just because.” I’m willing to debate others, both in the comments section of my own blog and on the blogs of others, as long as I can see that there is an honest exchange of ideas without the personalization of conflict. When it becomes apparent to me that the other person is arguing just for the sake of arguing or only for the purpose of driving, forcing, or compelling me to acknowledge that they’re “right” without considering the possibility that their own viewpoint isn’t entirely valid, I tend to withdraw from the discussion. If this happens on my own blog, it’s incredibly easy since, after all, I’m the blog owner. On someone else’s blog, I just stop “talking.”

Debate, discussion, and a frank exchange of ideas is one thing, but I’ve got better things to do with my time than to either let myself be backed into a corner by a someone emulating a verbal “pit bull” or to endlessly explain what I’ve already explained fifteen different times, trying to find new and unique ways of expressing the same thought in the vain hope that I’ll be able to get my point through to someone who is never going to listen to my side of things.

OK, at this point, some of you reading this may be taking my descriptions personally. Please don’t. I am not describing a specific individual or collection of individuals here. I’m expressing “the worst of” experiences I’ve had in the blogosphere in the years I’ve been participating and then exaggerating it just a tad more to produce an impression. I’m trying to say that there are some otherwise well-meaning people on the web who are not really productive communicators.

Now, back to the topic at hand: Chavruta or rather, the Chavruta “illusion.”

I never get the “Chavruta illusion” from a Jewish person. I just wanted to let you know that. It’s always from a non-Jewish person involved in Messianic Judaism, Hebrew Roots, or a similar religious expression.

When I complain or draw attention to what I perceive as the “adversarial” or “hostile” tone of a person’s interactions with me (or with others), they accuse me of not understanding how learning takes place in a Yeshiva setting and invoke the concept of Chavruta. I also sometimes get “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) and something like “Take away the dross from the silver” (Proverbs 25:4). This supposedly is to show me that an unbridled lack of graciousness and common courtesy, along with an essential rudeness is required and even encouraged when discussing differences of opinion in the realm of religious beliefs and ideas…at least as far as the “Jewish ideal” goes.

But wait a minute.

I never went to a Yeshiva. As a non-Jew, I probably would never be accepted for formal Yeshiva study. End of story. My experience in the Chavruta process is non-existent but (and this is important), since my detractors are also non-Jews, their experience in Yeshiva is just as anemic.

So where does this argument come from and is it valid? Can a Gentile Christian adopt the Chavruta process for learning and is it properly applied to a blogosphere comments discussion?

Let’s look at the context:

Yeshiva (Hebrew: ישיבה‎, lit. “sitting”; pl. ישיבות, yeshivot) is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim (lectures or classes) and in study pairs called chavrutas (Aramaic for “friendship” or “companionship”). Chavruta-style learning is one of the unique features of the yeshiva.

Yeshiva page at wikipedia.org

“Friendship?” “Companionship?” Rabbi Sinclair talked about a Chavruta “judging every person favourably.” Hmmm. That hardly reflects many of the “challenging discussions” I’ve been describing.

Chavruta learning takes place in the formalized structure of the yeshiva or kollel, as well as in Talmudic study that an individual does on his own at any time of day. Although a man skilled in learning can study on his own, the challenge of developing, articulating, and defending his ideas to a study partner makes having chavruta a desirable relationship.

Chavruta page at wikipedia.org

Certainly wikipedia isn’t the foremost authority on Jewish educational studies, but I think a few brief quotes will provide sufficient context for the points I’m trying to get across. The discussions that occur within a Chavruta relationship are not a verbal, emotional, and intellectual free for all that allows each participant to behave anyway their feelings, biases, and personal priorities dictate. The partners are not randomly thrown together in an online venue where they can’t even see each other let alone develop any sort of meaningful relationship. There is a carefully organized and formalized structure to the entire process, supervised by experienced teachers in a time-honored tradition that goes back centuries.

Using the Chavruta model to explain why someone thinks they can verbally assault you on a blog is like using the model of a martial arts class at a respected Dojo established and led by an esteemed master as an excuse for starting a back-alley knife fight.

Even if the person’s intent in the blog comments is non-hostile at its core and the individual using the Chavruta example has a benign character, the comparison is still completely inappropriate. The comments section is practically uncontrolled compared to the environment constructed for Chavruta pairs to interact. The required relationships do not exist let alone approach the closeness of Chavruta, and only the blog owner really “supervises” any of the discussions on his/her blog, to varying degrees of effectiveness.

Bottom line is that comparing blogosphere discussions to the Chavruta relationship between two Yeshiva students is just an illusion and one situation has no connection to the other.

So is there any sort of model that we can consider more appropriate to guide us when disciples of the Master interact and particularly when we disagree?

I’ve quoted John 13:34 enough recently that my regular readers should know it by heart, but does “loving one another” mean we can’t disagree? Of course not. I’m sure even those closest to Jesus disagreed with each other. Disagreement isn’t a sign of lack of love, but maintaining love in disagreement can be challenging. 1 Corinthians 13, sometimes referred to as “the love chapter,” outlines the qualities of a disciple who truly experiences love of others. Even those with great spiritual and intellectual gifts who lack love seem to “gain nothing” and perhaps even fail to see the Master as clearly as those who possess love.

What happens when we do disagree?

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; –Philippians 4:2-5 (ESV)

I know this is an isolated set of verses, but Paul appears to be saying that he wants Euodia and Syntyche, who seem to be disagreeing, to be entreated to agree in the Lord. Rejoicing in the Lord and reasonableness seem to be connected to Paul’s request. Sadly, “reasonableness” isn’t always found on the Internet.

I suppose the following two quotes capture my feelings on the matter.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. –Romans 12:18 (ESV)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. –Hebrews 12:14 (ESV)

So is my little “rant” encouraging peace? Probably not. Hardly in keeping with the spirit of Elul or this morning’s meditation, I must admit. I guess I could have kept all this to myself and just continued to post uplifting and supportive material, which isn’t a bad way to go. But as I’ve mentioned in the past, this blog is as much about what I’m thinking and feeling at any given point in time as it is a place where people can read a “morning meditation” (or afternoon or evening meditation for that matter). I suspect there are more than a few people who have similar feelings but are simply more gracious than I and thus, don’t express such feelings in a public arena.

And though you may consider me lacking in peace and grace by writing and posting this missive, it’s been on my mind for a while now and I think it’s important to dispel a sort of “Messianic blogosphere myth” about the justification some people have used to behave harshly toward others. Disagree if you will (I know I will from time to time). Argue, debate, discuss, and even harass and harangue if you must. Know that I will limit your outbursts on my blog if I deem necessary, not because I’m denying you “freedom of speech” or “censoring” you, but because I have the right to protect myself and the people who visit my blog. This is not tyranny, it’s responsibility.

With all that in mind, if you have the self-awareness to understand what you’re doing and even why you are doing it, please “come clean” and just say that you’re upset or offended or hurt or you just like to fuss and argue. Leave the Chavruta illusion out of it. It doesn’t apply.