An open letter to Josh Duggar

Dear Josh:

I am not proud of myself, right now.  My first reaction to your ongoing situation has been a sort-of glee.   A thing I have noticed in your apologies is that you follow the example set in scripture, of recognizing that first the apology ought to go to God, and only after that should the apology go to those we have wronged.  I have followed your example in this, and made my apologies to God about all this first, before formulating this open letter to you.

When I found out about your destructive decisions, I put a lot of energy into focusing on the differences between us.  Though we both follow Jesus, that plays out in our lives very differently.  I spent some time thinking about verses in the gospels and Revelation, which boil down to the idea that all the things we do in secret, they will some day be made so very public.  I spent some time thinking about how some folks smarter than me talk about Jesus having come to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

I got awfully focused on the ways that you seemed so self-satisfied.  I got so focus on that splinter in your eye, I missed the beam in my own.  Somehow, I was able to miss a really brutal fact: if Jesus is here to afflict the comfortable, in my judgement and joy of your situation, I had suddenly become the comfortable.  Jesus was here to afflict me.  What is worse, by the condition of my heart, I had become a sort-of affliction to him.

And this?  This will not do.  And so I send my apologies: to our creator first, and to those who suffer by my cruelty and by your cruelty second, but not least of all, I send my apologies to you.

Yours in Christ,


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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