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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Monday, May 15, 2006
Juicy Gossip!
I don't know about you, but I hate gossip.

I was emailed something the other day that basically said, "I can't believe so and so said such and such to me in the past considering how so and so has recently done such and such!

That is all fine and dandy when "so and so" is one of the people conversing, and when the "such and such" that was said is verifiable, and when the "such and such" that was done is equally verifiable.

The problem starts when so and so is not a part of the conversation (or email recipient) - and when former conversations cannot be verified, and when the current behavior is either speculative or rumor.

How does one reply to such an email? Recently, in my case, I replied to the purveyor of gossip identifying that these were unsubstantiated claims, and that the person ought to substantiate them instead of circulate them. Furthermore, I copied the target of the gossip in on my reply.

While I am sure that just copying in the target of the gossip was sufficient - I went the extra mile, and sent a further email to qualify the other. That is - the person who was the target of the gossip received a copy of my reply to the purveyor of gossip, and also a quick email to accompany it.

Here is where it sort of gets ugly.

Unknown to the "gossip-er", I was already familiar (first hand) with other information seemingly pertinent to this strain of gossip - information that this gossip-er wasn't aware of - information that knit itself seamlessly into the very fabric of this particular gossip. I like to think that I am aware enough to know that even if this fits perfectly with "insider information" - it is still gossip, and must be handled as such - which was why I chose to rebuke it in the way I did - by making the person aware that the buck stops here - that is, that I do not tolerate gossip, and being given some, I will not only check out the source, but expose the gossip as gossip simultaneously. I don't think this sort of a public rebuke is out of place when we are talking about libel or slander - that goes for all publicly committed sin in my books.

Knowing what I knew, I contacted the person being gossiped about asking them to confirm or deny the gossip - ostensibly to correct the gossip-er, but also (though I was unaware of my own heart on the matter) I think because I was deeply concerned that there might be a modicum of truth to the gossip given my "insider info."

Now because I imagined there may be some truth in it - I approached it with a bit of a chip on my shoulder beam in my eye - you know the one: the I-know-you-better-than-that chip beam? The one whereby your tone does nothing to veil your deep dismay over this person's "obvious" rebellion - and where your letter reads on the surface, in formal script that you are getting to the heart of the matter, but underneath it is clearly condemnational. Nothing as plain as, "I am so glad that you are not practicing that sort of horrible rebellion which you are portrayed as having practiced - Thank God you are not so utterly deceived and thoroughly sold out to your own carnality" - but pretty close to it.

So the reply came in the email, and what do you know? The tone was more than a little chilly - though continually polite - yet the person made it quite plain that I hadn't earned the right to pen a letter such as I had - and that if I suspected such things as I mentioned, I should have called the person personally, and not (as I had) dealt with it through email.

Sigh.

The person was entirely correct on that point - I should've handled it by going to the target of the gossip, and saying that someone had passed on information to me that was unsubstantiated, but by its nature troubled me - and then having heard one way or the other, I could go back to the first person and correct it. Instead my email drove a wedge between me and the person whom the gossip had first targeted.

The trouble is the person didn't deny the gossip outright - but said that it wasn't an entirely accurate rendering of the situation - and that the person spreading the gossip was not qualified to speculate. I should have loved to hear "I deny this" or "It is true - pray for me" - those I can deal with. But to hear "It isn't entirely accurate" followed by a polite but cold rebuke for having handled it poorly - well - that leaves me questioning myself.

Surely I was in the wrong in "doing the math" before I emailed this person. Yeah, I saw a picture in the dots, and taking my pencil I connected them - but sometimes we are wrong, even when it seems impossible that we could be - I accept that, and in the strength of that understanding, I ought not to have acted presumptuously. I admit that to myself and to God - I was wrong to presume, even if my presumptions turn out correct - it is wrong to make that call.

The fall out from having handled it the way I did is that I am no longer in the position I once was, where if there really is something here (even if it was "inaccurate" in some of the specifics) I no longer carry that same "clout to address it" that I once enjoyed.

My advice? Well, pray for me and for this situation - but also learn from it as well - no sense repeating someone else's folly. In this case, even though I was resisting the urge to gossip on the one hand - yet I didn't hesitate to presume upon my own interpolation of that gossip - that is, I believed it to some extent before I rebuked it. Try not to do that. When you come to someone with an attitude that says, I heard you were guilty, and I think it is true, but I am going to give you this opportunity to deny it if you want - well, you are not doing it as well as you could. Better to get your heart in order first - make sure you are clean before the Lord before you go nosing around someone else's garbage.

Grace and Peace,

Dan
posted by Daniel @ 2:00 PM  
7 Comments:
  • At 3:40 PM, May 15, 2006, Anonymous Elizabeth said…

    Don't you just hate it when situations occur while you are going along in life, just minding your own business...then wham you are thrown into something that you cannot just ignore and walk away? Well, don't feel too badly...sometimes I think no matter HOW we handle an issue, it will be taken wrong. Yes, the answer you received is somewhat suspect but I know people who would respond that way when innocent, just because they felt already judged. Confrontation seems to me to be one of the hardest things to do right...does anyone really manage to? I wonder...well, just pray the LORD will use it anyway. (There is scripture that says the person's blood is on your head if you know of a problem and do not confront the person, so sounds to me as if you at least covered that responsibility, even if not perfectly!) Blessings for better days ahead!

     
  • At 7:38 AM, May 16, 2006, Blogger Theteak said…

    Dude, I've made a comeback of sorts.
    Is that gossip?
    God bless my friend.

     
  • At 9:00 AM, May 16, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Teakster - No. You have to let other people say it, and twist it and bend it before it really gets gossipy.

    I know, I know, I have to fix the link again. I will do that today.

     
  • At 10:08 AM, May 16, 2006, Blogger Gordon Cloud said…

    Daniel, thanks for making yourself transparent and sharing this with us.

    One way of gossiping that I have observed (as I am sure you have, also) and unfortunately been party to as well, is to disguise gossip as "prayer requests".

     
  • At 10:39 AM, May 16, 2006, Blogger Kim said…

    This sounds like something I would get myself into.

    I will echo Gordon's words and say thank you for making yourself transparent. We are all a little too quick to adopt the "where there's smoke, there's fire" attitude when we hear gossip.

     
  • At 3:01 PM, May 16, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Daniel,

    My text for Sunday morning was James 3:1-12. It is a very convicting passage about our inability to control our speech and the terrible consequences of our words. I was convicted. I would like to say that I was "deeply" convicted, but I'm afraid that even my deepest convictions are often shallow.

    All that to say that gossip never ends well. It is an atrocious thing to participate in and witness. Words are like bullets that cannot be recalled once the damage is done.

    Proverbs 17:28 should be our motto more often than not.

     
  • At 3:34 AM, May 17, 2006, Blogger Theteak said…

    Oh, sorry.
    DID YOU HEAR THAT THE TEAK IS BACK BLOGGING?
    ...and I heard he's a conservative Jesus freak...
    Better?
    Thanks for re-linking me buddy.

     
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