I was with a group of people a few days ago who were kidding me about some of the stupid (or at least, unwise) things that come out of my mouth. I have this weird habit of occasionally saying things without thinking about how they’re going to sound to someone else. I laughed along with them and said, “When I die, I’ll be remembered for some of my Dave-isms.”
The funny thing about all that is I’m usually pretty quiet. For the most part, I let others do the speaking, and I listen. For some reason, however, I will sporadically get really passionate about something and speak out. I’ve discovered the hard way that being passionate doesn’t always translate to being right. Nor does it always translate to articulating things in the manner you meant to do so.
This also applies to attempts at humor. I’m not very good at telling full-blown jokes, so I often resort to one-liners. That practice is fraught with danger. One-liners can be very funny, but they can also be grossly misunderstood. Sometimes the best one can hope for is that they will fall flat.
Vocal Faux Pas
I think I come by this trait honestly. My Dad (whose name was Deno) was famous for what we in the family call his Deno-isms. When we get together, we still quote some of his vocal faux pas. As we do, we laugh hysterically and fondly remember the circumstances in which they were spoken (or yelled).
Last Friday in my weekly e-letter (Pulpit Man @ Large), I attempted to make a humorous statement against violent protest. In so doing, I inadvertently made it sound like I was opposed to any kind of protest and that current day protestors are merely doing it for the money. Another Dave-ism.
Those who know me well know that I participate in at least two peaceful protests every year. One is the March for Life—protesting the taking of innocent, preborn lives. The other is Rolling Thunder—protesting the government’s deficiency of action when it comes to finding our military POW’s and MIA’s.
My problem is not with those who peacefully protest to bring attention to whatever cause they are espousing. It’s with those few who insert themselves to wreak havoc, violence, and destruction (sometimes even ending in loss of life).
“He paid the ultimate price.”
Christians have a long history of non-violent protest. It stems back to Jesus himself. His very life was a peaceful protest against the status quo of his day. He paid the ultimate price for it. That history reaches into our own times with people like Martin Luther King and others.
There are, indeed, people who are mercenaries—who get paid to stir up crowds and incite aggression and hostility. These are few a far between, I believe. Still, it is they who give the rest of us a bad name.
So I urge you to march on for your cause. The more peaceful we are, the greater a statement we can make. Amen.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]