Politics, Religion And Sex
That’s what today’s episode is about. Yes, it’s safe for work!
This is one of the episodes we recorded in February at Podfest and it’s with Daniel J. Lewis, host of the Audacity to Podcast. The conversation was precipitated by a controversial Facebook post where Ralph called out Daniel, who is a Christian, and asked him to explain how it’s possible to reconcile President Donald Trump’s behavior with Christian values.
That wasn’t the controversial part, though. In the Facebook post, Ralph mistakenly said that Daniel had endorsed Trump, which he didn’t. So Ralph apologized for the error and the rest of the conversation was amicable. The controversial part comes in when other people jumped onto the thread to denounce Ralph for “attacking” Daniel, and in turn Christianity.
Nothing of the sort happened. But people reacted.
So today’s question is: why can’t we have a conversation about faith or politics without everything turning into – or being perceived as – an attack?
Daniel says this drives him crazy, too. He thinks people are too sensitive and instead of having an open conversation, people simply react. Respect goes out the window. Dialogue goes out the window. People take their beliefs so personally that any disagreement is seen as a personal attack.
He thinks that you can communicate with passion and with truth, but it’s important to do it with gentleness, love and respect.
Love The Haters?
Daniel hosts another podcast called Once Upon A Time, which is all about the TV show. And he took a lot of heat for one episode where he didn’t comment on a scene in the show that was related to homosexuality.
Fellow Christians were angry that he didn’t address it from a Christian perspective. And people who support same sex relationships were angry because they thought he was ignoring it and being a “hater.”
But Daniel’s podcast isn’t about morality. It’s about the TV show. So he didn’t feel it was necessary to discuss the issue. That didn’t stop people from being outraged, though. Some even threatened him.
Sometime later, another episode of the TV show had a similar scene. And this time Daniel addressed it. According to Christian values, homosexual behavior is a sin. But Daniel told people that it was not his (or anyone’s) place to judge any person’s sin as worse than any other person’s. Homosexual behavior is no reason for any more moral outrage than lying or cheating or anything else.
The difference for Daniel the second time around was that he spoke honestly, with love, kindness, gentleness and care. And he managed to bring people from both sides of the equation together. They may not have agreed, but they understood.
No threats. No trolling. Some hate – but far less than he had expected.
Be Yourself. But Not Really.
One of the contradictions of social media is that you constantly hear people talk about “being yourself” online. Yet the moment you’re “yourself”, someone gets all uppity and rants about your opinion or behavior or thoughts.
Daniel says that people are presented with so much stuff on social media, and it’s a such a constant stream of information, that it’s hard to process it in context. You’re not reading a social media post in the context of a relationship you have with someone, or an understanding you may have reached. You’re just getting bombarded by words, without the emotional context, without being able to hear someone’s tone of voice or look into their eyes.
And by the time someone gets to your post, maybe they’ve already read ten things that were negative or that bothered them. Daniel says they’re already “negatively charged” and that’s when people become reactionary.
The Emotion You Express Is The Emotion You Attract
Daniel says if all you’re putting out is negativity, you’re going to get negativity back. You can “be yourself” but still be mindful of what you post and how you post it. Sometimes there are topics not worth posting on social media, especially knowing what we know about how social media works. There are some things not worth being associated with.
Perhaps if we all spoke with more gentleness and kindness, we could disagree and still coexist peacefully. And just maybe, we could open a door to change people’s minds.
Listen To Daniel’s show, the Audacity To Podcast
If you’re a fan of the TV show, listen to Once Upon A Time