Saturday, January 14, 2012

Criticism

Are we allowed to criticize? To criticize (or "critique" -- my dictionary says they are the same) means to "find fault with," "disapprove," "appraise," "evaluate," or "pass judgment."

Bloggers often criticize; we evaluate and assess. My most-read post this month is one I did last June, "Figuring Out Ann Voskamp." It's an assessment of my take on her blog, both good and bad. I was shocked how many people who read it, only saw the negatives, and read right over the positives. I finally tired of reminding them of the good things I'd said. They even emailed me! I'm occasionally in the dog house with friends because I don't share their appreciation (sometimes adoration) of a favorite blogger/writer/speaker. It's a tough life, being a critic.

Have you seen the video going viral, "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus"? Here it is. Go ahead; watch it. I know -- I didn't want to either, with a title like that. I don't like being yanked around with alarmist titles, especially at the hands of the young.


The Youtube page I embedded that from has over 9 million views already. People like watching this guy. I did not enjoy his overblown approach, nor his mis-definition of religion. I'm particularly worried that other undiscerning young people will be led in the wrong direction by his catchy poem. I do understand his worries; I just wished he'd been wiser in how he expressed them. I doubt he anticipated the impact he would have.

I'd write a laborious analysis of the video, but a pastor in Michigan did it so well already. Read it here. And I'm very happy to say that Jeff Bethke, the man in the video, was humbly teachable and corresponded with Pastor DeYoung. A post on their emails is given here.  DeYoung said what he needed to say. He gave the goods and bads of the video. It's a critique. And look at the good that came of it.

Which brings me back to my first point: is it okay to assess bloggers/writers/speakers? When they put their ideas out there, are they inviting criticism? Should writers be able to state their opinions (with millions of readers or viewers) without any response or reply?

I believe the criticism is as important, as necessary, as the original writing itself. Exchanges should be honest, cordial, unapologetic, accurate, and truthful. I personally think they should lean toward logic and reason, and away from emotion and defensiveness. Some people are not able to interact this way, but that doesn't mean they're out of the conversation. Some realize quickly that the rough-and-tumble interchange of ideas on the internet is more than their stomachs can take. But clearly millions of people appreciate the exchange of ideas, the give-and-take, the fire storm and the backdraft. Sometimes it's a learning experience, as with Mr. Bethke. Sometimes it's only a learning experience for the readers/viewers who observe, and that's okay too.

So -- to my critics on the Ann Voskamp post?  Thank you! I don't mind your opinions. I enjoy the fact that you made me reconsider the post, and decide whether it was good, or bad. I still stand by it, which is why I haven't deleted it. Nor has Mr. Bethke removed his popular video. But I do hope his viewers read his gentle retraction of some of his expressions. It takes a real man to do that.

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