Sense and Sensitivities
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Right now, I’m going through an “Introduction to Orthodoxy” series, as in Eastern Orthodoxy, or Christian Orthodoxy. And I’m coming at it as a Protestant who plans on staying Protestant.
Yet, without going into great detail, the course means a lot to me. This isn’t just an exploration of idle curiosity.
While I really enjoyed the first three lectures – even with little jokes made here or there at Protestants’ expense (Whatever. I’m a big girl) – the fourth installment, I’ll admit, made me downright angry.
Why? Well, the priest leading it was:
Bigoted – One of his opening comments was “My church wrote your Bible,” and (as far as I could tell) he meant it every bit as dismissively as it sounds. And, again, that was just the beginning.
Misinformed – He made repeated blanket statements about Protestants that were simply inaccurate, such as how they elevate themselves above God (because they use lecterns instead of altars).
Illogical – He deliberately referenced the Bible to prove certain points and then said the Bible wasn’t worth studying when it might contradict his points. He also repeatedly made his Orthodox-promoting points by putting down Protestants, then ended the lecture by talking about not judging.
For the record, this is not a commentary about all Orthodox. It’s a commentary on this one person talking about Orthodoxy.
Which brings me to my creative writing point: How do you express your honest opinions without being offensive?
First and foremost, there’s always going to be the chance that you offend someone. Because some people are always looking to be offended.
There’s also the chance you don’t word something correctly on accident, misunderstanding a definition or its connotations.
Again, as nice as it might seem, there is absolutely no way you can make everyone happy all the time. So don’t even try.
What you should try, however, is to not be bigoted. Essentially, this advice boils down to two steps:
Research before you write.
Don’t write with an “all my conclusions are infallible” kind of attitude. Your personal history should show how flawed your thinking can be.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have your convictions. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “He who doesn’t stand for anything will fall for everything.”
Well, it’s true. So stand for something. And, while you’re at it, do your best to actually understand what you’re standing for.
And to present it in a way that has real potential to draw people in instead of automatically infuriating them.
I mean, if you really care about making a real difference to promote that particular opinion… shouldn’t you make the necessary sacrifice of setting aside your self-righteousness?
Hopefully, that last question was a thought-provoking one. But I do understand if it’s vying for attention with this one…
How exactly is this a creative writing topic and not a nonfiction-writing one?
Obviously, it can be the latter. But don’t for a minute think you can’t get overly aggressive about inserting your biases into novels (or short stories) too. There is plenty of obnoxiously offensive fiction before.
Usually, this is through misrepresenting different groups through specific characters.
Do you not like Orthodox Christians? (Yup, I’m flipping it around to be fair. Because there are definitely biased Protestants out there as well.) Then your Orthodox villain is one of the most self-righteous, mean-spirited individuals ever, with no indication given that he might be misrepresenting his beliefs.
Did you get burned by a male employer you’re sure passed you up for a promotion? Then you have a group of girlfriends who are all stuck in the same exact situation, turning it into a universal problem where male bosses aren’t capable of doing anything right.
See what I mean?
It can happen. But that doesn’t mean it should.