In the interest of getting CB Scott to come back and comment, I’m going with a hunting motif. I miss him around these here parts.
Some time last year, I was labeled a “Bambi-killer” on this blog for my actions to feed my family. Why the label? Because I went out into the fields and killed three deer, had them processed, and we used those for meat. That’s how we roll here on the Grand Prairie: lock, load, shoot, and cook. When I hunt, I use a rifle with a scope on it. For those of you who are unaware of firearms, a rifle is a firearm with a longer barrel on it (legally, at least 16 inches) and designed for long range accuracy and effectiveness. (Translation: meant to be used to kill stuff farther away than a handgun or shotgun.) The scope is a small telescope mounted on the rifle to give an up-close view of what the bullet will hit when you fire the weapon.
A scope is a beautiful tool. The top spotting scopes are masterpieces. With the scope on my hunting rifle, I can read the text of road signs that are 200 yards away. I can use it to line up my aim with the vital area of a deer while also aiming to miss the meaty parts of the deer. I can also use it to zoom in and be certain that the deer I am aiming at is legal (big enough buck or not a buck at all) or if I have messed up and am dialed in on someone’s cow.
What I cannot do with a scoped rifle is examine two deer at a time. I can pick one to examine and aim at, but the field of vision is narrow. A second deer could walk up nearly right under my nose, and I would not even see the animal, simply because I am focused on the target I am already aware of. If you were watching from a distance or seeing a video, you might wonder why I am locked onto a smaller target or a more difficult target when there’s an obvious, easier one.
The answer is quite simple: I do not see that target. I may hear the rustling or even smell something, but my vision has been drawn to a farther spot. At this point in the hunt, I have only two concerns: can I safely hit this target? and Is there any risk to taking this shot? I am, after all, responsible for where the bullet goes when the trigger is pulled (or squeezed, depending on your method).
If I am uncertain about the target, I do not shoot. That includes not being able to tell if that’s antlers or branches, so I’m uncertain of the legality. That especially includes not knowing if the movement behind is another deer or if it’s Roger out bow-hunting. Instead, I either wait to ascertain the viability of that target or I pick up the binoculars and look for a different target. In time, I may come back to the original target and I may not. There may be a target that is more certain, and that one I take.
In doing so, I may pass up a nice, fat deer and get a scrawny one instead. I might use up a tag for a lesser prize (you can only shoot as many deer as you have ‘tags’ for, the method for managing the wildlife numbers) and not get that super trophy. Yet the truth remains this: I cannot shoot what I do not see, and I do not shoot what I am uncertain of.
This is not without its blogging application. Take, for example, brouhahas over publicized sin. This could be contrasting our responses to evident racism to our responses to homosexual behavior or outcries over a Traditionalist blog metaphor with a Calvinist speech metaphor, but we have this come up: you’re decrying this action, why are you not decrying that action.
Certainly it is true that favoritism is sometimes the culprit. If we are blind-eyeing our buddies while trashing our apparent enemies, we need to reconsider that behavior. Likewise if we are not going to make certain of your target if it’s probably Ryan but you will if it might be Gary, because you like Gary but aren’t sure about Ryan, then you have a problem. If Calvinists are not calling out Calvinist planks but pouncing on Traditionalist specks, then that’s wrong. Same thing in the other direction, though: planks are indefensible, even if your best friend has one.
However, let us consider the other option: At times, we see and identify a sin and act on it. There is no mention of another issue because either it is unknown or is questionable and under consideration, but not certain. For example, I have noticed that opponents of Calvinism are more aware of problem statements by Calvinists than Calvinists are. Personally, I’ve never read one of R.C. Sproul’s books. So, I have never encountered his comments about Calvinist theology. Plus, he’s not a Baptist, so he’s not very high on my theologian list (the less Baptist you are, the older or longer dead you have to be:if I want a Presbyterian, I’d rather have Knox). On the other hand, I do read several major SBC blogs. Guess what? I was aware of a poorly worded statement on a blog well before I saw anything about Sproul’s statement.
So what would I have targeted? The blog and not the book I’ve never read. It has nothing to do with favoritism, but only awareness. Likewise, I heard much more about the church that somehow (not even sure how) did not want a non-white wedding than I heard about Jonathan Merritt’s issue. I’ve never been a fan of inherited fame in Baptist life, so I haven’t given him much thought and don’t keep up with him. It’s not favoritism, again it is awareness. I also think that we would do well to put some continued emphasis on the racism issue–can anyone honestly say that Southern Baptists have a history of embracing and approving homosexual behavior? No, but you can say that about racism, can’t you? We need to be correcting for prior errors, here.
Guess what? Every one of us tends to hunt issues through scopes. We target and address the ones that we are more certain of. That’s actually being responsible. People that spray the woods indiscriminately are a menace to everyone else, just as those who spray the blog world with unconsidered and untargeted rumors or innuendos. Yet do not think that just because someone did not lock on to the same issue you did indicates they are wrong and you are right. You don’t blame a duck hunter for not bringing home a deer.
In the same way, consider that a person may simply be more certain of the issue they have written about than the issue you wish they would have written about. It may be that clear.