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?