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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: George Saunders

Arguing against kindness? Who, me?

Ben Goshow

Sometimes you write a piece and enjoy a certain sense of (albeit smug) self-assurance. It says what you wanted it to say. It says it how what it how you have wanted it be said. This, of course, may or may not resemble the truth, but no matter. You feel good. Sometimes you write a piece and know that you have almost said what you had wanted to say. You recognize the ideas that still hang suspended, you see them waving in the breeze of all those words you've expired, but you cannot, for the life of you, figure out what more you could do to tie them down. Were you a better writer than I, you'd persevere. But I am a mere mortal, friends. Often, I go to bed.

I wrote an article recently for her.meneutics about the convocation speech George Saunders gave this past spring at Syracuse University. It's a beautiful speech, which I insist you must read if you haven't already. You can find the text here.

My piece, on the other hand, was less beautiful. It would even appear to some that I have argued against Saunders's advice to graduates, which was simply and profound as, "Err in the direction of kindness." One Patheos blogger had this to say about my piece:

"I have some advice for Christians (if they want it): When someone says that “kindness” is important, don’t argue against them. You won’t win. You won’t look good. And you’ll just give people like me blog fodder."

Well, then.

It's an important reminder to me, not only to work for the final 5% of every article I write (because my article probably could have been clearer), but also to consider the variety of people who read what I write. The Patheos blogger calls himself, "The Friendly Atheist." He's obviously reading what Christians write. Also, another person, who calls himself the "Cranky Humanist," tweeted in response to my article, something to the effect of "thanks for proving why Christians are witless and Christianity stupid." He's a reader, too.

I've made some friends apparently. (Or I might say, I wish I had.)

I don't back away from my argument -be kind is NOT the ultimate life advice the Bible has to give-but I do wish I had said it better.

If you're interested, I'll link to my piece as well as to the Patheos blogger's response. It's my gift to you today.

The Misguided Theology of Kindness: Why George Saunders's speech misses the mark for Christians

If Kindness is Your Guide, You're Doing it Wrong, Says Christian Writer

Also, tomorrow, I'll catch you up on other pieces I have been writing. See, I'm alive!