Image: Christophe Boisson/Shutterstock
In the Meantime
Walking home from a riveting lecture on Christianity and peace, I had just started to cross the quiet intersection that leads to my neighbourhood when a black SUV, creeping past the stop line, hesitatingly pulled through the intersection and cut me off. It was not the first time this had happened.
Filled with righteous indignation at having to once again interrupt both my train of thought and my walking trajectory to avoid becoming roadkill, I raised my hand and, ever so lightly, I tapped on the side of the car.
Having completed its turn, the car immediately pulled over at the other side of the road, lowered its tinted windows and waited for me.
I swallowed deeply.
Awash in adrenaline as I approached the car, the driver inside looked at me and smiled. “You need to be careful,” he chided in a friendly tone, “when you cross intersections like this—you need to be sure you stop first, otherwise vehicles won’t know if you are trying to cross. Also, it’s not very nice of you to knock on the side of my car.”
I tried to explain to him how he had been the one who, by pulling through the stop line, had failed in his obligation under the law to stop—he didn’t agree. After a long discussion on our differing views about our observance of the laws of traffic, I apologized for knocking on his car; we shook hands and went our separate ways.
Human beings are self-deceiving creatures. While we are experts in observing and judging when others have crossed a line, we are wonderfully oblivious to the lines we may be creeping past ourselves. As Christians, we are called to be a people who are sanctified in the truth (John 17:17), and the truth is that we cannot trust ourselves to tell the truth about ourselves.
That is why the church needs an editorially independent media—a set of ecclesiastical journalists removed from the structures, interests and perspectives that animate our church’s ministries. Not because those structures, interests and perspectives are uniquely vulnerable to crossing lines—ecclesiastical journalism is just as fallible—but rather because we are all of us vulnerable to our own obliviousness, and we all need one another’s help in keeping ourselves accountable.
Just as the church needs an editorially independent media, so an editorially independent media needs the church. How many governments, corporations or communities of interest are actually willing to fund and defend a gaggle of nosey reporters who might at times hold their feet to the fire of public scrutiny? True editorial independence requires the existence of a people willing to sanctify themselves in the truth; a people who understand that, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8); a people who know that the truth, however difficult at times, will set them free (John 8:33).
As I was walking back to school the next day, I stopped to re-examine the intersection. The stop line was definitely not where I remembered it to be. My righteous indignation fled in the face of humility as I began to question the truth of the story I had told myself. Did he really cross the line, or, did I?
Jeffrey Metcalfe is a priest from the diocese of Quebec and a doctoral student in theological studies at the University of Toronto.
Anglican Journal News, April 21, 2016