Mean Spirited?

By: Dennis Bates

I’ve gotten to this a little later than I usually do because I got caught up in one of the endless discussions on a Christian writer’s loop about the virtues of traditional publishing verses self publishing. I hate it when I do that. The pointlessness of it is almost overwhelming.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will state right up front that both Staci and I are self published at this point for all practical purposes. Both of us have dabbled  on the dark side previously, but ended up where we are. So view my comments with a grain of salt, maybe even a shaker full.

Try as I might, sometimes I just can’t ignore discussions like the one I’ve been involved in all morning. Sometimes the Internet is a curse. I would never have seen this discussion if it weren’t for cyberspace.  I would never have thought about jumping into it, if tilting windmills wasn’t something I can’t resist. Believe it or not, we have real windmills dotting the Iowa landscape these days. I applaud the attempt to find an alternative energy source, but I have to fight the urge to sing “The Impossible Dream” at the top of my lungs as I drive down the Interstates any more.

It struck me as I read many of the comments that nothing much has changed when it comes to the pros and cons of self publishing verses the  “true and noble” traditional method. All writing needs to be vetted so the inferior products don’t get into print. That would be all self published books according to some, just so you know. Self published books are poorly edited and most “just aren’t ready” whatever that means.

For the record, I am not the greatest proofreader in the world, as Staci could tell you. Some of my typos are legendary and been both the source of great pain and raucous laughter for her. However, proofreading and editing are two different things entirely, and I would defy any traditionally published author to show me that they have written and rewritten their stories any more than I have. That is editing. For me, the key is knowing when to stop.

What bothers me the most about discussions like this, especially those that appear on discussions sites with Christian in their name, is how mean spirited they are at times. In a way the spirit is not any different from the foul stench that has invaded so much of our world these days. Television advertising delights is making fun of people. All women are sex objects and air heads; all men are thoughtless and slightly clueless.

Political talking heads make everything evil if their opponents do it and everything  good and understandable if their side does it. That isn’t totally new, but it seems more vicious than ever before.

Christians aren’t supposed to be that way either to themselves or to others that don’t agree with them. The Bible tells us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, but it  commands us to love our enemies as well, whether they be Democrat or Republican, believers or nonbelievers, Christian or Jew, or even Arab. That love isn’t conditioned on the other person loving us in return.

Jesus Himself died on the cross for all of us, and the only group he had harsh words for were the religious leaders of the day because they should have known better.

Shouldn’t we who are Christian writers, or Christian anything, for that matter, do the same? Paul said love does not insist on having its own way. The Bible also tells us people will know we are Christians by our love. How do we demonstrate that love when we insist on having everything our way or no way at all?

Do I really need to answer that?

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