Preparing to be offended
I must confess to being a bit unprepared for the controversy surrounding the recent Columbus Day holiday. I had not tuned into the news or social media for a while, and thus, was caught flat footed and completely un-offended. It was a bit embarrassing to me to not even have the time to work up so much as even a mild ire over the man who is credited with letting the bulk of the world know about this beautiful land that we now live in.
However, I am a fairly quick learner, I think, and am determined not to miss another opportunity to be offended or to help others do so. And so, I have done the requisite research in my quest for offense and here is what I have discovered and determined.
October 24 is United Nations day. This presents an excellent opportunity to be offended at the very concept of nations. Why should some places qualify for nationhood when others are only able to qualify as states, cities, towns, or villages? From now on I demand that every place be called a nation, or, if that is not feasible, every place including nations simply be called “places.”
October 31 is Halloween. This one is too easy. Any costume, at all, can be taken offense at if a person is creative and determined enough.
November 1 is All Saints Day. And why, pray tell, (Yikes! My apologies to all non-believers for the usage of the word “pray” in that idiomatic expression.) should some qualify as saints when others do not? From now on I demand that everyone from the Virgin Mary to Eminem qualify as saints. No sainthood, no serenity!
November 4 is the full moon, an exclusionary event that denigrates every other phase of the moon.
November 23 is Thanksgiving. One could write a (very angry) novel on this one. Whom did those marauding Pilgrims think they were? I think it is clear that generations of turkeys have gone on to suffer as a result of their actions, and children everywhere have been corrupted by the outdated notions of thankfulness and God.
December 12 is Hanukkah. This fine Jewish holiday may be a bit unknown to many Americans, so we will need to encourage people to research it carefully to find out why they are so offended at it.
December 25 is, of course, the mack-daddy of all offense as far as holidays are concerned. How dare the very Son of God lower himself to become flesh, be born of a virgin, live in poverty and obscurity, and then die for our sins. We should all begin by focusing on doubts as to whether or not December 25 was the actual day of his birth; this will detract from the fact that the main point is not when he came, but that he came. We can proceed from there to label this most blessed day as racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, xenophobic, capitalistic, non-vegan, having too large of a carbon footprint, and being the root cause of one of the world’s greatest evils: fruitcake.
There now, we are all properly prepared for the next two months worth of opportunities to be offended.
In Matthew 15, Jesus spoke of what defiles a person. After He did so, the disciples came to him and said, “Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” Nothing he said was wrong, at all. Yet the Pharisees never missed any opportunity to be offended, including this one.
Jesus answered, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind.”
Be very slow to take offense. A person who is easily, often, and needlessly offended is just like the Pharisees; a blind person leading other blind people. People who can see, meaning people with any actual discernment, are very slow to take offense, if at all.
One more piece of counsel. Think of the well-known, popular voices of our day. Now ask yourself a question. How often are they offended at something? If the answer is “very regularly,” that person will not be a good guide for you, unless you want to be continually miserable.
Society has problems. Coming up with solutions is worth a mountain of gold. Peace making is worth even more than that. Constantly finding reasons to be offended at things is worth nothing at all.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and author of several books, including a kid’s fiction book about the Battle of Chickamauga, “Broken Brotherhood.” He can be emailed at email@example.com