Q & R: Please dismount your high horse …

A reader wrote …

My name is XXX which has absolutely no meaning, relevance or significance to you. I am not famous, nor noteworthy. I have no more power nor influence than my Anglican-American middle class status affords me, which I realize in the overall scheme of the world structure puts me in the “upper echelon,” but in terms of Who’s Who in the US and the world, you will not find my name there with yours, or in any other circle that your name exists.
Those words may seem somewhat inflammatory, as will some of what I say that follows. Ironically, however, before I go on I would like to establish that I truly am an avid fan of your theology. I have recently begun a new Sunday School class in our United Methodist congregation, mostly due to and inspired by your trilogy. Indeed I, like you, believe that it is not only time for, but perhaps gravely past time for, a theology that cries out for a new kind of Christian.
A very good friend of mine, who’s foremost passion is for the victimized and ostracized segment of our society that Christians have,for centuries, and continue to even today, persecute–the LGBT community–invited me to be part of a book study which consisted mostly of gay men. The book they would be reading next was one of your own–the first of the trilogy.
It would require a more lengthy and in-depth explanation than I care to share at this point, and I’m certain more than you would care to read at this point, but in as short of form as I can hope to convey this message, after having been raised in an environment that was very homophobic, then going through a God-inspired transformation that only God could have orchestrated as my own son went through the process of realizing a same sex orientation, through God’s Grace I inadvertently became a part of the “emerging conversation” that I had no clue was taking place.
After having lived the experience of participating in and reading your trilogy in what I refer to as the “Gay Men’s Book Club,” I gained a respect and admiration for not only your theology, but you as a writer. You, sir, are extremely gifted and have the capacity to reach out to a world that is so desperately in need of your brand of what I feel is a true understand of and example of, Christ-followance. If only everyone could understand Christ as you do……..
Now, having boosted your ego, which after reading Everything Must Change I have come to the conclusion you have no lack of, I must say to you that I hope you will get off your damn high horse and come back to ground level to speak to the vast majority of the public that needs speaking to.

More after the jump …

Your command of the English language is obviously unquestionable and undisputable. With that, your ability to reach out to the common man and the common reader is without question in some of your writing. But honesly and sincerely I ask you Mr. McClaren, who in the hell are you trying to “reach out” to in your Everything Must Change publication? Sir, we are not all college Composition instructors.
In your trilogy, you spoke to us. When I say us, I refer to “Joe the Plumber” as well as every other average Joe in the world. You talked to us in everyday, common language that we all use when we communicate with one another. As I read Everything Must Change, despite the fact that I don’t believe you intentionally intended to perpetrate this message, the feeling I had is that your desire was to exemplify and magnify your intelligence by–in terms of what I feel the vast majority of readers in the world today would refer to as–“getting wordy.” We enjoy when you talk to us, Brian. We do not enjoy when you talk down to us.
You will immediately recognize this direct quote from your book. It is from pages 246-247, in reference to an African-American telling you his feelings about you being involved in a ministry to help, in your words, “poor people in the inner city.” He encouraged you to go to Washington, to Congress, with these words: “If we go in there, they don’t listen to us. We have no power, no clout. We don’t wear the right clothes, and we don’t write letters and speak with the kind of English they respect. But you could do all those things, to try to confront systemic injustice. You could use your power and privilege on our behalf. That’s what I wish you would do.” You then went on to write, ” While neither he nor I want to sqelch any generous impulse to tutor children, I think my friend had a point.”
Mr. McLaren, please dismount that “high horse” you are riding. After having read 246 pages of what I feel is your attempt, yes, to change the way Christians view things, but seemingly more important to propogate your intelligence onto and unto the masses, I found the words of that “unknown” to be more profound than most of what you had literated in this book up to this point. I strongly believe, if I were sitting in a seat in Congress and were addressed with that degree of sincerity and clarity, it would have more of an impact on me than your book entitled Everything Must Change.
I know you are no stranger to this quote and I know I’m “preaching to the choir.” Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. It seems to me sir, that in your trilogy you reach out to the masses to show us and tell us how much you care. It seems to me that your main focus in Everything Must Change is aimed toward showing us how much you know. You did get it in the right order, but we’re not impressed. I bequest of you, come back down to our level and talk to us like you care, not like you know. We’re still here. We’ll buy your books.

R: Thanks for your feedback. I’m really sorry that EMC put you off so effectively … please be assured, I wasn’t trying to impress anybody with my diction, etc., but was trying to get the message out to folks … Your note comes at a good time, as I’m just finishing a major project and beginning a new one, and I’m trying to decide whether to write the next book in a fictional frame (as I did in the NKOC trilogy) or in a nonfictional format (as I did in EMC). Your email sure pushes me toward the fictional format that worked so much better for you. (For what it’s worth, I hear the opposite from some people – they didn’t like the fictional format, but do like the more typical nonfictional format. But more folks, I think, feel as you do. Obviously, there’s a place for both approaches, and both have their limitations.)
So again, please accept my apologies for the frustration my writing style caused you in EMC … and thanks for sticking with it for 246 pages … and thanks especially for your concern for “the victimized and ostracized segment of our society that Christians have,for centuries, and continue to even today, persecute,” a concern we both share deeply.