Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tone Down The Sarcasm

Those of you who visit this blogsite regularly (all five of you) may have noticed a few subtle changes in my blog in the last couple weeks. More changes are coming. The purpose for the change is to diminish the overwhelming use of “cutting” sarcasm. In other words, “tone it down a little.”

Why am I doing that? Well, this blog has recently come under some severe criticism. Not that I am necessarily intimidated by that but in this case, some of the criticism came from a friend and has some merit. So let me try to recap the concerns.

The first issue was the definition of “sarcasm.” When my friend read it to me, I was somewhat shocked by it. But, in my own defense, I need to say that the terrible, evil, vicious nature of sharp, cutting sarcasm, as it was read to me, is not the only definition nor is it the first or most popular definition. In fact, that definition doesn’t even appear in several dictionaries. There is another more common definition that, I believe, better describes my understanding and the predominant utilization of sarcasm where it appears in my speech and in my writing. It is this:

Sarcasm - A form of irony in which apparent praise conceals another, scornful meaning. For example, a sarcastic remark directed at a person who consistently arrives fifteen minutes late for appointments might be, “Oh, you've arrived exactly on time!”
American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition.

But the one definition I like best does not appear in any dictionary; it is a quote I found on the site of another sarcastic blogger: Sarcasm: - intellect on the offensive

However, my purpose here is not to defend or excuse myself because my friend’s rebuke truly deserves some serious consideration.

The next issue was concerning a particular item I posted (Angry, Purpose Resistant Leaders From Hell) which my friend thought to be overtly angry and bitter and unbecoming a Christian. A careful review of the whole post in context revealed the allegorical intention of the comment that, at first, seemed so outrageous. However since my friend and others whom I have asked were distracted by the harshness, my point was obscured by the out-of-context, shocking language. With that being said, I have revised it with an explanation for the sake of clarity.

Third, I do have strong opinions, ideas, and convictions but I am trying to take a new objective look at this blog for the overall “feel.” I am concerned that people who might find their way onto my site are not distracted from my messages (which I believe are right and brilliant and worth reading) by an inaccurate or eccentric caricature of my own making. That is why I am making this confession here. It is in this public venue that my sharp edginess crossed the line so it is appropriate that my contrition and repentance is demonstrated here for all five of you who regularly visit this site. And besides, I have eight grandchildren. I really don’t want them to find my writings some day after I am gone and conclude that their grandfather was an angry, raving lunatic.

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Ironically, my friend’s rebuke of my sarcasm (as cutting remarks intending to wound) was, in itself, very cutting but as the Proverb indicates, not all, cutting language is bad; in fact, some of it is necessary for correction. I appreciated his willingness to “do the cutting.”

So what kinds of changes am I making? I am glad you asked. I have subjected myself and my blog to five different people, whom I respect and trust, to review my posts and hold me accountable for my attitude and the content of my blog (that move actually doubled my readership). Sarcastic wit will still be present but probably a better word to describe much of my prose is “satire.” But with that, I have begun to bring more variety, balance, and substance to the content. I have reviewed and edited some of the peripherals on my site and I am allowing articles from “guest contributors” as well as some quotes and links to other respectable, orthodox Christian bloggers, writers and theologians.

Dennis Prager is a conservative radio talk show host who said, “…this (stuff) will either make you laugh or cry. Given the choice I would prefer to laugh.”

I share that preference with him. The ideological battles between conservative values and insanity; between honest thinking and stupidity; the battles between fundamental, orthodox Christianity and the fluffy, feel-good worship of a designer Jesus are raging hot and can make you crazy. But one of the differences between those on the right and those on the left is that the right can laugh; the left gets offended.


Anonymous said...

I hope you don't change too much. I like your blog. Most people don't like people with strong ideas and opinions.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has a problem with sarcasm should read about Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

Daisy said...

We've enjoyed the sarcasm (satire) that you've employed but enjoy your writing just as much if not more now that you've toned it down a bit. We were able to read between the lines before and get a good laugh or two (and sometimes even feel a zinger).

I applaud your friend who was close enough to you to keep you accountable. Those are the relationships we cherish the most.