Avoiding the Shrill

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Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.


The agenda of the town hall meeting tonight will be determined by those who attend and ask the questions. The questions will be asked aloud, not written, and the people who ask the questions will have reasonable opportunity for follow-up. The jury on whether this has happened or not will be those who attend, and not those who have no need to attend because of their telepathic gifts.

At the same time, we intend to give the floor to a wide range of questioners, and this means that we will regularly move from one questioner to another. Again, the judge of whether we are doing this fairly and honestly will be the people in attendance. We want to give priority to those who are not in our church, and we want to prioritize how we address the questions as well. This means that we will want to sort questions and answers as they have related to the controversy. “What is our actual position on slavery? Is this consistent with the booklet? Why did the Christ Church elders respond with the display ads in the newspaper the way they did?” When those are covered, we can move on to other questions if we have time.

We are trying to answer the questions that the community has. This is not the same thing as answering the questions that could be asked by a hostile few, those who have gotten a strange mix of bitterness, slanders, hostility, and lies wound tight around their axle. I do not believe that such people will be satisfied (if they come), but I do believe that the average, interested resident of Moscow who comes will be able to hear what we have been saying. Many will leave differing with us, but what they differ with will at least be an honest representation of our views.

I know that Duance will take my reference above to “telepathic gifts” and “wound tight around their axle” as acts of rudeness, unbecoming to a Christian minister. But the apostle Peter tells us not to return evil for evil, and I have diligently sought to avoid every form of railing or invective in my responses during this controversy. That is not the same as avoiding a (biblical) approach to polemics and humor, which I have tried hard to practice. I do employ such expressions as those above, because I want to avoid the besetting sin of cultural conservatives in public debate, which is the besetting sin of Shrillness. I have been on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse from Duane for a goodish bit of time now, and do not ever want to be guilty of the kind of irrational crudeness which he routinely displays. That is my goal, and I have good friends who would take me aside to talk about it if I wavered from it.

That said, men like Duane and Nick need to understand that we are not taking their questions seriously precisely because we take the questions of the responsible community of Moscow seriously. There are many in Moscow who are not associated with us in any way, who have honest questions about us, and who are ill-served by those questions are the Platonic form of Shrill. “Doug Wilson, have you closed down your child abuse factory and the meth lab behind it? Yes or no?”


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