Recently, I was asked to write a 1000-word essay for the international magazine at the university where my seminary is.
(We’ll talk later about how my least favorite part of my theology school is the “Methodist” university…).

I was supposed to talk about my study abroad experience, which was with an ecumenical group of seminarians from across the southeast U.S.

I worked hard on my essay, and I struggled with writing in a way that reflected my experience (which was deeply spiritual/theological) but was accessible to non-seminarians or non-Christians.

And then I get a phone-call back: “I’m concerned about the parts of this essay that don’t reflect your voice,” says the editor.

I receive a copy of the essay with their changes.
Every Scripture reference is eliminated.
A phrase about crossing the border between Hagar and Sarah (in discovering inter-religious sisterhood) has become “crossing many borders.”

I’m not a Bible-thumper. I don’t cherry-pick Scripture to make a point or beat people over the head with words that are sacred to me but not to you.

But when I looked at the changes that this guy made, I realized that he thought that I was a religious kook.

The edited essay was stripped of meaning.  My voice was gone.  And I was left feeling like a religious moron, a theological nut-job.

It wasn’t that the essay didn’t reflect my voice.
It’s that my voice was too Christian.


…And where does that leave tolerant-advocate-for-diversity me?

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5 Responses to -Edit-

  1. rachel kenaston says:

    you are a kook

  2. Katelin says:

    Thank you for sharing! Christianity is really weird in the USA because we are at the same time the majority and the minority population. We get all sorts of privileges for being Christian in the is country, which means no one wants to hear it when we feel like we are being oppressed. It happens ALL the time in my field of work that I have to listen to extremely intolerant rhetoric about my religion. And if I speak up, it somehow invalidates my ability as a scientist (as though my belief in God makes me less able to read a bar graph!)

    • La Peregrina says:

      I really appreciate your comment, Katelin, because I struggled a LOT with not wanting to whine. I like to think that I am a sensitive Christian who works hard to be inclusive in my thought/language because I am aware of the history of Christian hegemony in the West. And I don’t want to be exclusive/offensive in dealing with others. That said, I’m not sure how to *be* in a way that’s not fully who I am…. I don’t want to lose my own integrity, and I don’t think that celebrating diversity (religious or otherwise) should involve all becoming the same.

      And I would be really curious to know how the articles by Muslims/Hindus/agnostics would be edited if they traveled with a similar purpose (professional development for religious leaders) on a similar group (exhibiting diversity within each faith). I think I’d be similarly offended if their voices were edited to become a blah non-religious travel account. Rather, as a reader, I would want to know how the trip affected their faith/ministry —- and even if I disagreed, I would get to see a perspective different from my own.

  3. ployd says:

    my previous assessment of the editor stands: fuckwad

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