Posted for Jon Of Arcadia
On Anonymity and Participation
There have been some comments (not to mention the recent letter from consistory) criticizing the use of anonymity by Joan of Ark, myself, and many other regular participants in this blog, so I thought it may be pertinent to address the question of why I do not use my "real" name.
On this blog, there are discussions taking place that are historic in the life of this church. Never before have people felt comfortable discussing this divisive issue- and if it were only Joan of Ark espousing the pro-women views, it would be one thing. But there are many distinct people sympathetic to her views contributing to the comments on this blog, and all of them, save one, are either anonymous or using pseudonyms. And I think that, instead of condemning this practice, we should try to understand the why.
Fear of Reprisal
"I can't speak for council because we are under a gag order. But, be rest assured that this blog is being read by many Council members. I don't agree with what we are doing and will just pass my time until the end of my term. I would hope that we can respond to this post but I'm not putting my head on the chopping block. I have to live and work in this community." -Anonymous
Now, it must be said that council, in their letter to the congregation has asked itself if this comment has come from one of their members, and they have determined that it has not. And perhaps they're right- the comment is anonymous, it could have been posted by anybody. On the other hand, if you were a council member who posted this (and I'm speaking strictly to the men here), would you say, "Oh- yeah! That was me. Sorry, I meant to mention it, but it had slipped my mind." It is no secret that the people who are against the concept of women holding positions of authority in this church are both in the majority and in power. And these people are willing to officially and actually Shun members of this congregation who disagree with them. "I have to live and work in this community." Say my employer is a member of this congregation who has taken to shunning- I would be exceedingly hesitant risk my livelihood to participate in a theological discussion. However, if I have an opportunity to do so anonymously....
"The Ad Hominem argument consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem
When I first began participating in Joan of Ark's discussion, I had referred to her as him/her, s/he, because, really- I don't know. It could be a woman, or it could just as easily be a man (or, for that matter, a couple writing together- a concept I like better. It's more romantic.) The point is, it doesn't matter if it is a man or a woman. The same goes for me- I could be young or old, a man or woman, a new member of the congregation, or a charter member. It doesn't matter. What matters is what I have to say. If the audience of readers knew who I was, attention would be drawn away from my message, and pointed towards me as an individual, much in the same way as was done to Jonathan. Jonathan's arguments were too powerful for a certain reader, who decided that, if s/he couldn't refute what Jonathan had to say, s/he would attempt to reveal something about him that might potentially discredit him, and "the process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted."
Why participate at all?
It is important. As our congregation is sinking more and more into the minority of acknowledging and admitting women into positions of authority in our denomination, this issue becomes more and more critical. Certainly, as other anonymous people have suggested in the comments, I and others could go to another church. But that would mean giving up- giving up a denomination and this specific community that I have grown to love so well. (I don't know about you, but an Anglican or Roman Catholic church just won't cut it for me... I love my CRC.) We would also be giving up this fight- if we were to leave, who would be left to carry it on?
And so, here I am, participating in this blog, anonymously doing my best to follow God's word of speaking the truth in love. Consider it my interpretation of how to live out Matthew 6:3, as written in the New King James Version: But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.