Friday, December 28, 2001
fun-filled years of expressing my opinions and hearing yours
By DAVID EPPS
This month is an anniversary of sorts for me. This month, I observe the fifth anniversary of writing a weekly column for The Citizen newspapers. I have missed only two weeks, so, I figure that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 258 articles, give or take one or two.
Most of the people who tell me that they read the column give favorable reports. In fact, I attended a meeting a couple of weeks ago and a lady said, "I read your articles every week and I agree with almost everything you say." On the other hand, a gentleman at the same meeting said a few moments later, "I read your articles every week and I disagree with nearly everything you say."
One gentleman vehemently disagreed with an article I wrote about an attempt to abolish incense in some Canadian liturgical churches. I might have found his arguments valid but he used so many profane words in his letter that I simply deleted it and declined to reply. I have one faithful reader who regularly e-mails me with reasons why I am wrong. Once in six or eight weeks she agrees with me but most of the time I think she thinks I'm a right-wing reactionary.
It's fine, of course, to disagree with anything that I might write in this column since it is, after all, an opinion column. The opinion I offer is mine.
Someone asked me recently if I had written any columns I regretted. I didn't have to think about that too long. I have written two that I wish I had deleted before they ever left the computer.
The first one had to do with Bill Clinton. I pulled into the local post office in 1998 in time to see a car pull out of a parking space that was sporting a bumper sticker that read, "Thank me I voted Clinton/Gore." I was incensed to the point that I returned home and wrote a blistering piece about the President and listed all the things for which I would love to thank the Clinton/Gore voters. The column was brutal, vindictive, and downright nasty. I even attacked those that voted for the third party candidate.
Later that week I was in Kenya when, during the night, I was awakened in a Nairobi hotel room with the certain knowledge that I had crossed the line. In fact, I felt convicted that God was exceedingly displeased with the column. I repented that night and deeply regretted that it was too late to pull the column. When I returned home, I called the publisher to apologize. To my great surprise, he said that the article was set to run that week but had been lost. Thankfully, that article was never printed.
The second article that I regret writing was one that concerned a situation in a town several miles away regarding a small church pastor and a large church pastor. At the time, I was angry when I wrote the article blasting the way that I perceived that the large church pastor had treated the small church pastor in a certain situation. The article was unfair. I didn't contact the large church pastor to get his account of the situation and judged him without checking the facts.
I didn't use names, or denominations, or towns but it caused difficulties for both pastors anyway. In fact, I had a couple of other large church pastors in my area call me to ask if I was writing about them. I wasn't, but I realized that other people might think the same thing. In any event, I shouldn't have written the article. The situation was between the two men and should have stayed between them. I was wrong to assume that I had the right to offer an opinion about their private issue.
And, while I don't regret writing the article about John ("Taliban") Walker, a reader wrote me and chided me for not even urging people to pray that Walker might return to his childhood faith of Christianity. The reader was right. I have begun to pray that John Walker might repent and bow his knee to Jesus Christ. God is "not
willing that any should perish," and he is "not holding men's sins against them," according to the scriptures. May God grant that John Walker find peace through Christ.
When I write these columns every week, I am aware that some of them will cause some people to be distressed or even angry. "Does it bother you?" someone asked recently. Not really. I don't set out to tick people off, but I don't shy away from it either.
About fifteen years ago, someone at the church I pastored began to call me "Slick" behind my back. It seems that she thought that I was afraid to give an honest answer to any question for fear that I would offend someone. She was absolutely right. So, after some soul-searching, I determined to attempt to be honest, even if it cost me, when people asked my opinion.
And that's what you read here each week: my opinion. And, I value your opinion, which is why I include my email address each week. We have a wonderful opportunity in America to voice our opinion by writing our officials, attending city council meetings, writing letters to the editor, and, maybe, even authoring a column. Express your opinion! Some people won't like it, but so what!?
[David Epps is rector of Christ the King Charismatic Episcopal Church in Peachtree City.He may be contacted at FatherDavidEpps@aol.com.]