Today I read The Dark Side of Christian Reviews by Linda Yezak. She was responding and elaborating on this from The New Authors’ Fellowship: Outside the Echo Chamber. In this post Mike Duran says: Most Christian reviewers seem to feel obligated to give good reviews to their brethren.
I agree totally with both posts.
And then I came here, to my blog, forgetting I had recently posted Brutal Truth.
Do I believe Christian Writers have an obligation to be truthful with one another? Absolutely. Yet we need to season our words with salt. We should not speak brutally as I have heard others, including myself, do at times.
Let’s look at the inspiration for my poem:
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
Emily Dickinson words pack a powerful punch. Yes, we must tell the truth, but notice the line “with explanation kind.” Our words should always be those of love, or else we might “blind.”
Words are powerful. Our words are powerful.
And that’s what I tried to convey in this poem:
Brutal Truth by Sheila Odom Hollinghead
Brutal truth shatters our self delusions.
pierce as truth blinds and tears
(We all know the old “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s simply not true. Words can, and often do, break hearts. Especially “truthful” words told by heartless people.)
Clashing symbols of
self shatter and delusions
Truth lies content.
(“Clashing symbols of self” refers to the fact that we often have opposing views, especially writers. At times we think our words are wonderful. Other times we think they’re rubbish. I’ve personified “truth,” but this actually refers to the person who tells the “truth” with such brutality. Yes, they’re now content that they have left you broken.)
Self shattered and delusions
searingly engraved by
truth, lies contend
for fragile souls.
(The problem arises when we take something that perhaps is true and turn it into an untruth, a lie. Someone might say, “Your grammar is terrible!” True. But then we take it to mean we are terrible writers. Not true. Grammar is just the tool to get the story out. We may have wonderful story-telling abilities and that’s what makes good writers. We must evaluate critiques dispassionately and not allow them to turn us into a quivering mass, afraid to put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard.)
Searing in graves,
piercing truth blinds and tears
Brutal truth shatters our self delusions.
(And, so, we go to our graves, never utilizing the talents God has given us because we have allowed “brutal truth” to tear and shred our souls, to destroy our true selves.)
The main point of my poem is this: It’s okay to have self delusions, to dream big. Plagued with self doubts, we will never try. We have to delude ourselves into thinking, “Yes, I’m a great writer.” This gives us the confidence to pick up the pen and begin to travel the path to publication. Self delusions are not always bad. They only become bad when we think we’re so great we do not need truthful input from others.
Truthful but not brutal.
So let’s “tell the truth but tell it slant”!
P.S. In a coincidence, one of those God things, I just read Industrial Strength Friends in which Ray Noah says this: There’s an interesting verse, Psalm 141:5, that says, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me — it is oil to my head. My head will not refuse it.” The Hebrew word for kindness is “hesed”, which means loving acts of authentic friendship. We need to have people who have the freedom to be totally, lovingly truthful with us. And, by the way, we need to be that kind of friend as much as we need them.The temptation we all face is to surround ourselves with people who make us feel good but don’t help us to become righteous. However, we will never grow past our character flaws and personality weaknesses if we don’t have people speaking truth into our lives. Proverbs 15:31 says, “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.” There’s an old Jewish proverb that says, “A friend is one who warns you.” Got anyone who will warn you?
And he ends his post with this: That’s not a declaration of open season for brutal honesty, but it does speak of the vital connection between the health of our whole being and the difficult conversations needed to get us there—and God’s gift of true friendships that makes it possible. (emphasis mine)