Getting a bad review is no longer an elite experience. Writers and non-writers, mandarins and proles, we’ve all been trolled, oafed, flambéed in some thread somewhere, at the bottom of some page. Scroll down, scroll down, take that Orphic trip into the underworld of the comments section, and there they are — the people who really object to you. Their indignation, their vituperation, is astonishing. It seems to predate you somehow, as if they have known and despised you in several former existences. You read their words and your body twitches with malign electricity. You must get out of this place immediately, run toward the light. Let the dead bury their dead. And don’t look back — because if you do, like Orpheus, you’ll lose what you love the most.
And it’s not just what we write or make that’s under scrutiny — it’s our whole lives. Over the last couple of weeks, I have read, with increasing dismay, a series of articles and blog posts in which evangelical Christians take it upon themselves to judge the life of a young woman who works for my former employer, Wheaton College, solely because she describes herself as a gay Christian. Some of them, with gracious condescension, deem adequate her decision to remain celibate; but they don’t like her self-description and inform her that she is foreclosing the possibility of being changed by God.
This young woman didn’t ask for any publicity, didn’t present herself as a role model, didn’t seek the approval of strangers. And yet her fellow Christians don’t hesitate a moment before reviewing her life as though it were this week’s new movie. We’re all fodder for other people’s “journalism” and blog posts. All that crap about motes and beams is so first-century.