On speaking well
So I've been in the media a bit lately. There's been some confusion about what it is that Journey actually does, and the result is that we often get phone calls from news outlets asking us to represent a religious point of view when it comes to LGBTQ issues. They're hoping we'll say something either foolish or mean and then they'll have a real story, one with good guys and bad guys and a sort of duke it out fight - the kind of story that gets people's attention.
My job is to disappoint them. As I say, they would love it if I said something really nasty that shows that Christians hate LGBTQ people, but in general I find it's hard to say anything mean about a group of people with whom I feel a certain kinship and who are mostly bound together by their shared suffering, so it's easy to avoid being mean. Not being foolish is harder, since the journalist and I often approach life from radically different perspectives. I often share a lot of my own story with the journalist as an illustration of how Journey has helped me, but the decisions I have made in my life often appear silly and even deranged to the reporter. Trying to help them understand what it means to live a spiritual life - a life that accepts authority from Scripture, the church, and the Spirit - is difficult and it can be stressful. They also struggle with the idea that I would need help or support in trying to live my life. The concept of the individual making their own way without help from others runs deep in our culture.
As a ministry, we're asking ourselves if speaking to the media is worth it, but I'm convinced it is. Stories of Jesus asking people to live at odds with the culture are not common and choosing to be vulnerable is even rarer. My hope is that as I speak honestly about what Jesus has done for me that there will be a few readers or listeners who connect with what I have to say and realize that there are ways to live a meaningful life that don't conform to cultural expectations. And maybe someone will even reach out to Journey to ask for help.
I also do it because Christians have a certain reputation - one that is only partially deserved - of being closed-minded and chauvinistic toward people with whom they disagree. I hope that in some way I can show that standing up as a Christian is to stand up for people - for helping them become the people God created them to be and for walking alongside them through the tough stuff - not (primarily) about making them behave properly.
I hope it works.
Graeme's recent media interviews: Danielle Smith - QR77, CBC national news, CBC local in Edmonton, CityTV national news, Journal de Montreal, Star Metro News