Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why Are You Reading This?

I have been blogging since March, and based on what I learn through Statcounter, on most days I have been 75 and 200 readers. I also know that in the course of a week, I have about 200 returning visitors.

But, I mostly hear comments from people who oppose what I have to say and I think it's fair to say even what my ministry stands for. Over the weekend, one "anonymous" poster sent very negative comments to seven different posts including a few with obscenities (and several with random Bible quotes that were taken out of the context of the text to disparage my thoughts.)

I don't make it my business to read blogs of those on the religious right, unless someone writes and tells me that they are about me or the Religious Institute. I write this blog for people who are genuinely interested in the connection of religion and sexuality, for people who have been alienated from their faith because of sexuality issues, to bring a progressive religious voice on sexual morality, justice, and healing to those who welcome it.

I respect that the issues I address are often difficult for people and that people of good faith can differ on these issues. I even like being in dialog (not debate) with people to see if we can seek common ground. But, really, if you hate what I'm writing, why are you spending your time reading this?

I'm guessing that my sister's knitting blog doesn't have people who hate knitting.


Purl Needlemeyer said...

Well, no one tells me that theyhate to knit, but someone once told me that I was a few skeins short of a sweater! You see, in the world of fiber, there are knitters and crocheters. Most knitters have "two points" of view, while frequently, crocheters seem to only work from one needle, and its usually on the right. And those who spin, well, they're the granola crunchy crowd on the far, far left.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Haffner

I am very sorry that you are receiving uncharitable messages about your work and your blog. I do not consider myself part of the "religious right", but I do tend to see the issues you present from a different perspective. I don't presume to think that my recent comments alone have led directly to your frustration with oppositional responses to your blog, though I regret it very much if they have contributed to your apparent feelings of being "under siege."

I am deeply interested in the connection between sexuality and religion - as a fertility/ childbirth educator and breastfeeding counselor, I deal often with issues of meaning and sexual experience, influenced by religious beliefs in my work. And I for one enjoy reading commentary with which I disagree on issues that matter to me. A University of Michigan Law Professor (local to me) who crosses the political/ social line to speak regularly at Ave Maria Law School encourages students at both schools to practice what he calls sympathetic engagement. That is, to enter into and to really hear what the perceived "other side" is saying, trying mightily to understand it from the inside. Sometimes this exercise strengthens my own convictions and sometimes it protects me from the arrogance of believing that my own position (with which everyone else I talk to on a daily basis also largely agree) is always right. I have welcomed my acquaintance with your blog for its potential to offer me both of these experiences.

I read a variety of blogs and other sources on issues of sexuality, feminism and motherhood from both the right and the left. By not limiting myself to only those sources with which I am already in agreement from the get-go, I find that I am often able to find common ground between acquaintances who otherwise would never be able to "hear" each other. This was particularly apparent when I taught natural family planning (the Billings Method) to several classes that included BOTH traditional Catholic couples who avoid artificial birth control for moral reasons AND very liberal atheist/ agnostic student couples (whom I knew through secular work teaching childbirth and breastfeeding) who shop at natural food co-ops and want to learn NFP for health reasons, until they have their kids and get sterilized. It was great to have two groups of people who would not ordinarily bother to interact (being sure, each in their own way, that the "other side" was evil) discover that they were actually basically decent people, fairly nice actually, and that there was much more to respect and appreciate than there was to villify.

I have submitted four comments to this blog - two on the NFP-only physicians, one on the assumption that increased access to contraception leads to lower abortion rates, and one responding to the MS. magazine petition on abortion with information and encouragement to listen to women who are also speaking out through the Silent No More campaign.

I do apologize if my posts have seemed especially critical or negative. I have expressly attempted NOT to come across this way. Further, I don't expect you to post any more of my comments, but I would like to assure you that I do not "hate" what you write and even if I do not continue to comment, I will continue to read. Thank you for making this resource available.

P.S. On a lighter note, thanks too for the link to the knitting blog. I am a crummy knitter but I like to read about it anyway...somehow in my mind there is always hope that I could chill out enough not to pull the yarn too tight between stiches. Knitting seems so meditative - like baking bread. Maybe your sister's blog will encourage me to stop thinking and typing so much and get back to something calming. I don't hate knitting, but I sure make a mess of it when I turn away from reading about it and imagining myself doing it to actually attempting it in the flesh....

Anonymous said...

I first learned of your blog when it was linked on the Washington Post article about Tepeyac Center. I have a degree in Theology and Philosophy and I, too, am interested in the connection between religion and sexuality. I just see things from a different perspective:) Why blog if you're only interested in receiving comments from those whose views are wholly in accordance with your own? I guess I assume that if someone is blogging, they are interested in hearing from all parties (provided that posts are made in a charitable manner and in the spirit of dialog-I am sorry your are receiving hateful emails) ,otherwise, they would password protect their site and limit comments.

Why am I reading this? It's a good resource for learning what the "other side" is saying. While I may not agree with everything you post, I do find your posts interesting and appreciate that you are thoughtful and respectful in your commentary. I certainly respect your right to limit comments and access, however, I will continue reading your blog as I find it informative resource.

As for knitting, I simply don't get as passionate about it as I do sex and religion, but if I were, I'm sure I'd be arguing about the virtue of the purl stitch over the dropped stitch.

Anonymous said...

In response to some of the other comments about this: having a blog like this isn't only about hearing your side; it's about having real discussion, debate, and thought. Having these conversations face to face might prove to be more effective, you one of us may live in Idaho while the other lives in Taxes. I don't see why Rev. Haffner should have to put up with hate-mail, but the "made up" sensitivity on the subject of sex and religion causes people to feel hateful. Interesting how expressions of love and spirit generate hate in some people. This should be a place for all of us on both sides to talk, to understand, and to relate. We are human, we have 99% of our bodies in common with each other, our lives are more similar that we can imagine.

Anonymous said...

Re knitting,

Job 10:10-12

Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews?

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you're getting hate email.

We get the same sort of thing on our religious forum. One day, some anti religious person will show up with a chip on his or her shoulder, then the next day some fanatic will show up trying to convert everyone to his or her religion. So far as I can see it, there are just some hateful people in this world, and they don't mind showing it. I suspect they have psychological problems.