As I have said so many times before that I can’t count that high, almost nobody reads these posts on this blog. I have been blogging many years and many blogs, but this one is the least of all. Somebody reads here some of the time, but I have no mass following and few posts make much of a splash.
This is rarely far from my mind.
But I have even fewer people who listen to me live in person.
Seriously, I can talk until I am blue in the face and hardly anyone will notice.
I never was one to seek the lime light. I have a lot to say and a lot to share, but I am not the featured speaker in almost any venue, hardly ever. It was about ten years ago that I turned off the little audience I had. It was July 4th Sunday, 2010 that I dragged an American flag around on the floor in the church I was attending in proph-O-dramatic fashion helping that proud symbol bend the knee in the house of God. I got very little feedback from that prophecy, but shortly after that, I found out how little anyone wanted to hear from me.
I spoke up for the poor at a public exchange shortly after that, and it was there I began to really get the drift how the church was done with me. At that point, the feedback suggested it was my “tone” which was offensive.
I don’t believe that. I think that was a lie. My tone was not the problem; my picking on the idols my church worships when not worshiping Jesus was the problem. But, of course, how is a church to react to that? I mean, if you are not going to repent, then what? Well… you go looking for other reasons to marginalize that prophet.
The reason they gave me was “tone.”
It’s right about here I should say something about “inside voices.” The first time I ever heard the phrase “inside voices,” I was visiting an elementary school where the teachers were doing crowd control with the munchkins by ordering everyone to use there “inside voices.” I completely comprehended the instruction immediately.
But last summer I read Lee Camp’s new book Scandalous Witness and in it he used the same phrase a little differently. He spoke about prophets in the age of the church using “inside voices,” meaning they do not prophesy for the world at large, but for those of us inside the church. If you speak to the world outside, you can call that “gospel preaching” or a few other related terms, but the prophets in the church speak (or dramatize) God’s word for those inside.
You know??? That is exactly what I was doing with that flag on that Sunday so long ago. I didn’t drag that flag around town, not at the mall, the post office, or the American Legion Hall. No. I dragged it inside the church house at the hour of worship. In fact, if a flag can be dragged with any dignity, I afforded it that. It was as clean when I was done as when I started, I did not drag it in the mud or the parking lot, but only around in the sanctuary and the Bible classrooms. I also held my Bible in the same hand as the flag and let the tail drag around on the floor.
And it pissed off the nice Christians, something fierce!
But, with the exception of one sole protester who came to me privately at a later time, they said nothing about it.
Rather, the next time I had an opinion to voice, they shunned me and claimed it was because of my “tone.”
I have been stuck with that “tone” thingy for a decade now. Even many of my close friends caution me about my “tone.” There have been other criticisms leveled at me over time too, but that “tone” one is the one that kicked it all off.
Now, I have checked with myself, and I have found times when my tone has become a bit shrill on a few occasions alright. I really have. I am not in denial about this. Whether successful about it or not, I have sought to keep my tone civil, if not friendly and inviting. But I also have noted that I have never opened with a shrill tone. I have never met a new person, or group of people, and introduced myself with a harsh tone.
HI! DAMN IT!! I am Agent X!!! So, F’n glad to meet ya!!!!
Nope. Not once.
Why am I posting about this now?
(Thanx for asking.)
Well, mainly because I have never shook this designation, and it has stuck to me in an unfair way. I FEEL it. So, therefore, I think on it and sometimes address it.
But it is not all that interesting to think about too much (unless of course it’s your curse). But this last week I was watching a news item (I bet both of my readers here saw too) of the cops raiding the wrong apartment of the nice lady in Chicago a couple of years ago, how they busted in on her as she was changing clothes and completely naked in the privacy of her own home, as they surrounded her with guns drawn so fast she couldn’t even get a blanket to cover herself.
Oh yeah…. body cameras are a beach!
She protested and told the cops that they have the wrong house! According the to the report, she told them (I think) 43 times that they could count from the self-incriminating body camera footage. Somewhere in the exchange the officer tells her she need not shout about it.
Hmmm… the cop didn’t like her “tone.”
She needed to use her “inside voice,” it seems.
In her case, I hope she didn’t offer them tea or coffee before her tone got a bit sour, but it has me thinking. My tone was just fine the first time I spoke, the second, the third and fourth. I am not sure just which time it began to have an edge to it, but I am sure it was not the first, second, or third.
I think of all the meetings I went to with church leaders (semi-privately) … about praying with, even sharing communion with, and talking with them in the most respectful ways I know how… all to no avail.
ALL TO NO AVAIL!
When it comes to the poor, I got NOTHING for the asking. Every time.
But the church said that was because of my “tone.”
That is why I use the inside voice so much. It is the way a prophet addresses the church. Just ask Lee Camp.