Sunday, June 17, 2007

When Fired Upon?

During the last few years my hometown's political climate has changed drastically due to the rise of a handful of very vocal "bloggers." Generally, they seem to have concentrated on Portsmouth city politics (and esp. the city's purchase of the Martings Building) but every once in a while they shift their focus beyond the goings-on at the municipal building and lately they have targeted my own family.
The bloggers are upset with my Father's recent Scioto Citizen editorial in which he opined that many of the bloggers are mean spirited. In a humorous turn, that seems to have escaped them, the bloggers responded to my father by attacking him!
Among the "arguments" floated by the bloggers are that: (1) Christ's Community Church exists to financially benefit my father and his family; (2) the church is really a front for the Republican Party; and (3) my father is hypocrite because there are unconfirmed rumors of extramarital affairs.
Now, the last one is so absurd that those who have known my father for close to 40-years actually burst out laughing and it would be funny if it wasn't in fact slanderous and actionable. I have personally volunteered to file suit several times on behalf of my father but he has always dismissed it by stating that falsities have been floated about him ever since he arrived in Portsmouth and that unless it hurts the church it isn't even worth acknowledging.
The first two are equally absurd and demonstrate that the bloggers may be passionate but they are not exactly Woodward & Bernstein because they haven't done their homework. What most people don't know is that my parents worked in the private sector for decades and they saved their money wisely. My mother quit her job as a remedial reading teacher and opened two children's clothing stores before selling them both after being offered a great job by a corporate insurance agency located in Columbus. My father also landed a series of good gigs in the steel industry.
My mother commuted to Columbus every weekday for 10 years. I remember getting up for school between 6:30-7am just as she was jumping in her car to be in her office by 9am. She usually returned home around 7:30pm and immediately began cleaning house or fixing a late dinner if we hadn't eaten. She was tireless, good at her job and a wise investor.
My father, on the other hand, travelled all over the country and, eventually, the world. I remember him going on business trips with his good friend and colleague Bob Carver, to Salt Lake City, Wheeling/Pittsburgh and even India to sell raw materials to steel mills. He too worked very hard, made good money and saved a great deal of it. Trust me...I was always asking for it and usually getting "the look" in response ("the look" was given in lieu of stories of their poverty...and thank goodness because they did grow up in poverty).
Thankfully, while Mom & Dad were working their tails off in the private sector, the great staff at Christ's Community Church (then Rick Clark, Paula Bailey, Dick Duduit, and Herb Bussa--a former union official and vocal Democrat by the way) "held down the fort", so to speak.
So, the bloggers look at my parent's home in Rosemount (which is nice but not exactly Charles Foster Kane's Xanadu) and think that my parent's must be milking the church but don't know anything about the decades they spent working 70-80 hour weeks to save the money to buy their house or their two "new cars" (Toyotas--not exactly the Jim & Tammy Fae life!).
Thankfully, they have both since "retired" from the private sector but still work 70 hour weeks, just at CCC. Coincidently, the tremendous growth at CCC coincides with my father's return to full-time ministry.
Now, they both do take a salary from CCC but the last time I checked the average salaries of pastors from churches of similar sizes, their salaries are roughly 1/10 of what their colleagues make. Yet, unlike many pastors, my parents still tithe at least 10% of their gross income back to the church!
So much for the $ argument.
The Republican Party or Vast-Right Wing argument is another tired, old accusation that has been around for years. Ignore the fact that many vocal Democrats have been pillars of Christ's Community Church (late County Engineer Jim Weaver and the aforementioned Herb Bussa being two that come immediately to mind) or that my father has openly supported Democratic candidates like Jim Weaver and his successor Clyde Willis, Mayor Jim Kalb (over Republican Trent Williams) and, of course, the late, great Speaker Riffe (who despite what one blogger stated did in fact help bring many non-state jobs to Scioto County and always kept his word to my father). The simple fact is that my father was raised a Democrat (as was my mother) but both felt alienated by the party's embrace of a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights agenda. Both have stated that they have absolutely no loyalty to the Republican Party and if the party ever softens its support for life and/or marriage then they will simply register as independants. My parents base their belief in their reading of Scripture, which is the end-all-be-all for them. The bloggers may disagree with their views or even their interpretation of the Bible but then they should either agree to disagree or engage in a helpful debate instead of just casting aspersions.
Now, I could go on and on. Despite what the bloggers state they have very little in common with Charles Colson, their intepretation of the Constitution and Constitutional history is poor (and to toot my own horn, I did earn one of the highest grades in the subject while attending Cornell Law and the subject is one of my passion's) and the last time I checked the various recalls they have led have not produced the dividends they promised while the folks at CCC are keeping the homeless shelter afloat, assisting hundreds of single parents every fall, weathing dozens of local houses every summar and underwriting psychological counseling for members who need it (not to mention the hospital visits, accounts at local grocery stores for the needy, etc., etc.).
To be fair, obviouslly, I am not totally objective. I love my parents and am very proud of them. They stood by me when I was the a-typtical rebellious preacher's kid, then a mouthy & arrogant political hack, and later when I was diagnosed with cancer and finally became a Christian. They helped put me through college, seminary and law school.
But as their son, I also certainly know their faults better than most (and inherited many of them). They can be overly stubborn, short tempered, talk too much, listen too little and say things they shouldn't. You can certainly say all these things about them (and me) but no one can truthfully say that they are not hard working, passionate, honest and sincere.
So, guys, blog away but please try to be fair even in response to what you see as an unmerited attack.