I’ll admit it, I was on a fault finding mission.
My son brought home a glossy publication with advice for Christian school students in their final year. I went through it, hoping there would be, say, outdated advice about sex, or something I could get outraged about. (I do this with certain newspaper columnists as well.)
But everything seemed to be in order. It was the usual gentle but uncompromising Christian point of view on a range of issues.
‘Damn,’ I thought. I had been looking forward to formulating an email to the author pointing out some inconsistency. And then I found it.
This is what I wrote:
I was reading through your publication, ____, that my son brought home. I was surprised by the images of people it contained. They are all slim, white, heavily made up, etc. Maybe this was done for marketing reasons, but isn’t this one of the things you are saying is wrong with our society? To me, this affects the credibility of your motivations.
I say this with all due respect.’
I went off to do some housework (always a good time for some healthy outrage building), and then started thinking of all the things I could have said. Probably a good thing I’d already sent the email.
Here’s the over the top version:
In your publication, _____, you have helped support a theory of mine, namely, that in some sectors of the church, when they say ‘come to Jesus’ they actually mean ‘come and live like a nice, white, middle-class person’.
Maybe you thought that when the Bible talks about ‘being washed whiter than the snow’ it was meant literally. (I’ve paraphrased, I know.)
Let’s face it, as a teacher I know that at least 50% of the kids who get this book are not going to read beyond the first few lines (except on the page about sex). What will they do? Flick through it and LOOK AT THE PICTURES.
The pen is meant to be mightier than the sword, but images trump words.
Now possibly you are a neo-Nazi, in which case I apologise as you are just promoting your world view.
With all due respect, etc.’
I imagined handing this booklet out in the average Australian classroom, with it’s range of colours, sizes and socioeconomics, and I thought how it might affect those who did not see themselves reflected in its pages.
It made me feel sad. And mad.
There’s a reason why we have ‘political correctness gone mad’. It’s because it’s been the opposite extreme for far too long. Hopefully we’ll see a balance restored in the not too distant future.