I’m Keely. So, What’s Your Name?

Most of you know that I post regularly on Moscow’s community discussion forum, Vision 2020 — always signing my first name, and with my name in the header as “keelyemerinemix.” Lately I’ve added my blog’s web address to my e-signature, and I’m well-enough known in town that anyyone who cares to can figure out that I’m “that” Keely, the one who was on the school board, or “the Keely who debated Doug Wilson.” I made sure my blog had a current photo of me, too, so that if anyone recognized me in public, they could talk with me about anything I’ve said, done, or written. It happens, and I’m glad.

Now, either I’m a megalomaniac, always wanting my name out there, or else I believe strongly in accountability. By “accountability,” I mean making myself accessible to those who would correct or rebuke me and making it crystal-clear that it’s me, Keely, “that” Keely, saying the things I say. I detest the cowardice demonstrated by either unsigned written potshots or those credited to an obvious pseudonym. I find anonymity of that sort to be simply wrong when used as a shield behind which the obnoxious and ill-informed can take cover. That many of those in Moscow who do so claim to be Christians and are proud men of chest isn’t just ironic, but also pathetic. And, I might add, sinful: We’re to let our light shine — no hiding it under the bushel of anonymity — and we’re to be truthful in all we say, which probably doesn’t allow for the making up of names, Glenn and Edna, when making one’s point. See, if you say something and say you’re Glenn Schwaller or Edna Wilmington, and you’re not, you’re not telling the truth. That’s lying, and, apart from anything you say — even in those rare moments of non-belligerence — it’s wrong. It really stinks when coming from Christian leadership. (“Stinks” is, of course, my own subjective opinion; tragically, “Christian” and “leadership” are subjectively used here as well, with a whole lot less evidence than “stinks.”)

Now, twice in my life I’ve filed police reports anonymously — that is, face-to-face with the police, using my name, but asking that it not be included on the police report itself. Both were for my protection; in this case, there seemed to be not light hidden under a bushel-type issue, and my desire for accountability was less important than my desire for my own safety. There. Now you know of the only times I’ve hidden my identity. Presumably, if I ever write a novel, no one will take the Puritan approach to works of fiction and call me a liar then.

But the reason I believe so strongly in speaking straightforwardly as Keely Emerine Mix is that my words reflect on my relationship to Jesus Christ and my beliefs about His Gospel. If I use my name, I’m no less likely to speak strongly — but I won’t be able to recklessly malign people or engage in other bad rhetorical behavior without everyone knowing that I did. Remarkable, that is, for keeping one’s faults in check, and much more honest — and courageous, frankly — than posting even the sweetest sonnet in anonymity. I’ve been mocked, maligned, and misrepresented, and I’ve signed up for all of it. I don’t like being mocked, etc., but I’m . . . uhhhh . . . man enough to let it happen, and happen to me personally.

Now I know that my saying “man enough” will prompt lots of fun exchanges, but please don’t miss the irony — big, brave Christian men, men who wouldn’t let me near their pulpits if their lives depended on it, show themselves to be whimpering cowards by not using their names. Whether to avoid the tough stuff or to give them a pass in hurling slime, it’s less than manly and less than mature, whether for “future men” or the bearded, stout-chested ones. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

There is, sadly, an exception to my charges of cowardice: Those Kirkers who are afraid to publicly disagree with their leadership, regardless of the severity, absurdity, or damage done. With an eldership largely made of men employed by Wilson-controlled ministries and an insular culture that tolerates no dissent, I can understand — lamentably — why some critics of Wilson’s feel the need to protect themselves. I couldn’t attend a church that has a loyalty oath requirement for members, but, then again, I couldn’t attend a church whose behavior and teachings lead to the kinds of objections people might make publicly in attempting to defend the Gospel when their church maligns it. However, others do, and I’m very sorry that legitimate criticisms and corrections of Kirk leadership cannot be made freely by its congregants — that is, publicly, and after private attempts to work things out have been made. From the Christ Church website:

Commitment to Loyalty
I pledge to conduct myself in such a way that no one could ever question my loyalty to the peace and purity of Christ Church. This includes refusing to speak to any unauthorized person about grievances I might have, and includes refusing to hear any such criticisms as well. If commitment to this standard in any way compromises my conscience, then I understand that my resignation will be accepted, without notice, and without prejudice.

Well, so much for the freedom to speak openly. In those cases when allegiance to Jesus Christ and His Gospel are compromised by the teaching and behavior of any congregation, the believer has to make a choice, a choice that this oath and the culture of the Kirk makes, by intention, much more difficult than it already is. It guarantees no dissent, and, tragically, gives free reign to community-attacking, agenda-furthering blather by those who implement and benefit from such an oath.

At which point pseudonymical potshots become more than cowardly — they evidence a hypocrisy of staggering consequence. You can sign my name to that one.

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