yeah, i got censored.
seriously, i got censored today. what’s best is that i didn’t even know they were going to do it until it actually happened.
when it happened, i was actually very angry. angry not only because it was a complete blind-side, but because the reason it was done, ironically and fittingly, was something, more or less, that i was talking about in my sermon.
here’s the story:
this morning, i spoke at a youth camp after being invited by the camp’s director. as a bit of back story, i grew up going to this camp and worked on staff for many years before making a decision to discontinue working there a couple years ago (the details aren’t relevant here). also, the director is actually a friend, though we certainly are on very different theological and cultural planes. as one final piece of the story, i was at the center of a very ridiculous and lingering controversy at this camp several years ago (again, details not relevant, but basically, it involved some design work i did for the camp). so, that’s some relevant information.
i spoke about how we, as christians, need to give up our very narrow views concerning christian subculture, dichotomized relationships and our limited views of god. during my time spent on narrow relationships, i talked about how we need to build relationships with unbelievers that are genuine and without agenda. so, i shared the story (that i blogged about here, here and here) about the day the “god hates fags” protesters from westboro baptist church in kansas showed up across the street from our offices. (if you want to know the full details, click on the links above, instead of me rehashing the entire story.)
the point of the story was to say that i befriended the guys from the church of the flying spaghetti monster (yeah, i know…) and created a dialogue with them in order to say that the westboro baptist people did not represent jesus values and that god frowns upon what they were doing. as i told the story, i thought it would be helpful to include some pictures to illustrate the story and show the utter degradation of what these people were doing. **to see the images in question, you can view the entire keynote presentation below.**
offensive? yes. shocking? yes. but that’s sort of the point. it’s not just for the sake of offending people or shocking people, but to illustrate the egregious nature of the event.
so, when it came time to bring up the first photo (the top photo), i said, ‘here’s a photo from that day.’ i looked at the screen and noticed that the photo didn’t come up. i assumed the tech guy wasn’t paying attention, so, without looking back, i verbally cued the tech guy to bring up the slide. still nothing. this time, i looked back the booth and both people in the booth were pointing to their right: towards the camp director. the director said there with his arms crossed, shaking his head.
suddenly i realized what was going on. without my knowledge, the director censored my presentation. in the middle of the sermon, in front of a hundred people, i found out i had been censored. i was angry. i was furious. but i knew i was only half way through and i couldn’t just stop and throw a fit. i think people could tell my disgust, but ultimately, i just moved on.
let’s just take away the fact that you don’t leave somebody hanging out to dry in the middle of speaking to a large group of people without their knowledge of the censorship. just take that out. what angered me the most is the underlying value that led to the decision. in essence, it’s the idea that we need to be some kind of worldly gatekeepers for their poor, simple little eyes and minds. so, ironically, in a sermon about broadening our viewpoint of the world and intentionally exposing ourselves to what’s going on around us, they censored real life images that happened literally 30 miles away from them. not only that, but i began today by saying that i give teenagers much more credit than most and that i was going to be real and honest and challenging with them today. so much for that.
censorship isn’t good for anyone. when camp directors or parents or teachers or pastors try to filter the world and give people quasi-real life, we stunt people’s social and spiritual growth. people need to process beautiful and ugly and pleasant and offensive and soothing and shocking. people need it all.
what happened today was sad and unnecessary.
**here’s the presentation. the photos in question begin on slide 6.