Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's a bitter pill, I swallow here

Dave asked a question that really hit a point of contention with me...something that I've wrestled with for the last several months, had great conversations, but have avoided blogging about because I feared the criticism (I know...I wallow in irony!) Instead of leaving a ridiculously long comment on his blog, I offer a bunch of questions here, for consideration regarding criticism, being critical and the like that I've wrestled with in my own mind.
  • If I criticize more than I praise, what does that say about me?
  • What does it say about the state of my soul?
  • Why is it, that often, not always, but often, the people who are the most critical are the least capable of facing criticism?
  • Here's another way of saying it, why are the most-opinionated, the least capable of dealing with criticism.
  • Is criticism just "low-hanging fruit"? What I mean is that often, what I see done in the name of criticism, is just an attempt to appear intellectual or superior, but the truth is, most well-reasoned criticism are from people who write books and published articles, where people pay $$ to hear what they think. Usually, they don't write blog posts.
  • If I just blast someone or something in a post, how is it beneficial? (I know I've been guilty of this in the past, but I'm wrestling with the idea.) What does it really accomplish?
  • Is there a difference between being critical and "constructive engagement," with an idea you may totally disagree with?
  • Does how I respond to people who disagree with me say something about the state of my soul? Or is it just a maturity thing? Or is it neither?
  • What if they're mean and unfair?
  • Rob Bell likes to talk about "binding and loosing." Isn't disagreeing with his book really the semi-ugly process of binding and loosing? I know that Rob is really offended by the ad hominem criticism, as he should be, but the real criticisms, are valid and good, even if you don't ultimately agree.
  • If I can't handle criticism -- if it bothers me to the core and I can't let it go -- then maybe I shouldn't post things or write things or speak publicly -- because honestly, once it's out there -- people will respond, like it or not, and frankly, you willingly put it out there.
  • I guess the real question I have had to ask myself in the past is, "where does my self-perception and awareness come from?" -- my critics, or my Creator?

I have some answers, at least ones I can live with for most of these...but it would be a much-too-long post (it's already a little too long)!

Yes...the title of this post is from a U2 song -- Van Diemen's Land -- off of Rattle and Hum


dave said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The questions about the way I handle giving or receiving criticism and what that says about the state of my soul intrigued me.

Due to my job I have to handle some criticism on an almost daily basis. Usually nothing major, just people telling me what they like/dislike about a project I'm designing for them. But on days when I'm not in tune with Jesus I feel this sense of defensiveness when told that something I've created should be changed. I think if it weren't for Jesus I'd be a real jerk. Reverend Bell might say it like "Jesus wants to save you from being a jerk."

Summer said...

When someone criticizes me, my first instinct is to be defensive. I think it is that way for most people.

What I try to do is examine my pride level. Is it pride that is keeping me from hearing something I need to hear? If I have successfully taken that factor out of the equation, I am much better able to assess the criticism. Sometimes I may still feel I'm right about the issue/feeling/situation. Sometimes I may feel we have to agree to disagree. Sometimes I have to say I'm sorry or admit that I simply don't know everything (not very often though-haha)

Beth B said...

these are things i have been thinking about to in light of recent events. i think it all boils down to your heart and your intentions.

mitchell said...

That might be the quote of the day

"and Jesus said 'don't be a jerk'"

dave 1:1