Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Voice of Irreverence

Many years ago, in close succession, more than one person told me that I had a unique writer’s “voice.”  Two of those people I strongly respected as writers.  One was a fellow legislative worker bee who dabbled in the occasional op ed or glorious rant to an editor—he was no slouch himself in the writing department.  The other was the editor of a major daily newspaper, the winner of journalistic awards.

In both cases, their pronouncements terrified me.   What did they mean, “voice”?  I asked.  Both said by way of explanation something like, “you know, a voice.  You have a distinctive way of writing that is you. It is recognizable.  If I didn’t know it was you, I’d know it was you.  [Note to JK Rawling, you might not want to bother with the pseudonyms any more].

“Well, what is my voice, I whined?”  I particularly whined when one of them reviewed some prospective op eds I wrote and said, “where’d you go?  Your voice is gone.”  How was I supposed to find my voice again if I didn’t know what it was was?

Finally, they both came out with the same adjective to describe my voice..."snarky."

Fast forward six years, long enough for our kids to grow up and for me to graduate from ministerial school.  In that interval, I have written very little.  I'm afraid to be snarky and afraid to be snarkless (and therefore voiceless).  Both options seemed impossible. Now I return to writing.  It seems to be something Spirit wants of me, therefore, what can I do but comply?

Websters defines “snarky” as “crotchety, snappish, sarcastic, impertinent, irreverent, in tone or manner.”  How on earth can a reverend be irreverent, isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Yet, a few years ago, in a ministerial school retreat, the adjective I used to describe myself was "irreverent."

The truth is that I belong to an order that is inherently irreverent--we teach people how to change their thinking to change their life.  In order to change my thinking, I need to challenge every belief that I think I have.  I need to be willing to play with my thoughts, rock them back and forth like a car stuck in the mud to see if they'll suddenly break free.  

And I teach everyone that they have their own authentic voice and that when they find it, they should celebrate.  So when I put it that way, if I have a snarky voice, so be it.  Spirit has made me snarky and Spirit has made a minister.  There must be some way for the two to coexist.

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