|Posted by God Loves Women on October 5, 2013 at 4:00 AM|
Yesterday I tried to be subversive and hilarious and to celebrate some of the many people I love on twitter by creating an alternative award to the Christian New Media Awards (#CNMAC13). The “Unofficial Twitter Christian Awards” (UTCA) became a thing after I began tw-ranting (I have just made up that word. See, it merges the words “Twitter” and “ranting”, but isn’t actually very easy to say… ) about how one of the shortlisted nominations for best blogger was someone who has written very unhelpfully about headship and submission among other things. I thought creating awards that were for people I loved and appreciated on Twitter would be a positive way of challenging some of this. My two rules were that people couldn’t nominate Christian celebrities or themselves. I guess deep down I knew I was being antagonistic, but the idea of awarding people for being great tweeters overrode any reservations I should have maybe listened to (also Mr GLW had suggested I wait, but I rode straight over his reservations too. *sigh*).
I posted news of UTCA on twitter and was greeted by a few retweets and some thank yous from those I had nominated. As people commented, I realised there were others I hadn’t added and began adding them. Then someone I really love and think is ace began asking why they hadn’t been included, and another person challenged me for using the term “Christian celebrity” and the way it othered people who were well known. Then I was challenged for attacking the awards based on theological differences, this person began asking me if only egalitarians should be shortlisted for awards.
And it was then that I wanted to get really tw-ranty. I wanted type in capital letters (which is what shouting on Twitter looks like) that the shortlisted blog was more “the straw that broke the camel’s back” than the main issue. I wanted to tell this person that I took issue with the awards because:
a) How on earth can they really celebrate achievement when they are set up for people to nominate THEMSELVES?!?!
b) Is it even okay for Christians to get awards?
c) It seems a far cry from the carpenter turned rabbi thousands of years ago who, when two of his followers clamoured to have the highest places of honour next to him, he told all his followers,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
But I didn’t say that, I continued to tweet with that person about headship and submission. Mainly because that person has been shortlisted for an award, and I thought it was probably unkind to wee on his proverbial bonfire (the fact I just wrote that phrase in a blog delights me, and would probably also please eight year old Smaller GLW too). In fact, that was why I hadn’t mentioned my concerns about the whole premise of award ceremonies at all, because so many are really pleased that they are being celebrated for their hard work and effort, and to tw-rant about seems unfair and unkind.
However, within less than two hours I discovered that by celebrating some wonderful people, I had inadvertently hurt some others. I have spent my whole life attempting to be inclusive; to invite everyone, especially those who have less power. For a long time I was one of those with less power. Then yesterday I discovered that I have more power than I think, and I had acted in a way that was exclusive. I may have felt angry with #CNMAC13 for creating a worthy/unworthy dichotomy and seeming to champion people whose message is of concern, but in seeking to challenge that, I used the same methods. And for that I am truly sorry. If you read my list and felt sad you were not on it, please know that I love you and it is not a reflection of you, but more a reflection of me. And for those on the list, I love you all too!!
I spoke with someone on Twitter who defended #CNMAC13. He talked of how the Pope and Archbishop are elevated and celebrated and used the phrase “good and faithful servant”. He pointed out how we honour church leaders and explained that celebrating people is a good thing. I understand this may be the reasoning behind #CNMAC13, but it is not the Way I see Jesus giving us throughout His life. Being a good and faithful servant was not about people celebrating us, but about God communicating His pleasure at how we’ve used the talents He gave us well. Our reward is described as being given additional responsibility.
I think so often awards are attractive because they affirm us and enable us to feel valued and assure us that we matter. Similarly, if we are not honoured, or feel excluded from such awards, we may feel hurt and disappointed. A few months ago I was told by someone that I was a “nobody”. At first I felt indignant; “I am a ‘somebody’…!” Then I felt deeply fearful, “Maybe I am a ‘nobody’…” As I reflected on how this person’s words had impacted me, I realised that they had touched the core of my soul. I discovered the revelation that if I am fully rooted and found in Jesus, being called a ‘nobody’ shouldn’t impact me anymore than being called a ‘somebody’. Though people’s unkind words may be hurtful, and their compliments may feel good, nothing should be able to impact the core of my being, if I am found in Christ. This is why it’s so important that we learn to die to ourselves, to the need to be heard, the need to feel validated, and that we are raised we God’s identity, knowing we are children of the Most High and that we are beloved of God.
I had thought about describing this whole award creating experience as some sort of profound prophetic act which was well orchestrated and thought out, however that would be a lie. As with all the things God does, it’s usually out of our own weakness and failing that God works. And in that place where we are brought yet again to our knees as our complicity in the system is made visible, God teaches us and purifies us, and we continue along the Way with Him. I don’t think there will be an end to Christian award ceremonies anytime soon, but with all my heart I believe the Kingdom of God is about striving for a right use of power, seeking to prefer the other’s needs above my own and always treat others as I would like to be treated.