This from the Rev. Jeff Liebmann of Michigan. My responses are in brackets.
PB, I think what you do, and have helped me and other ministers to do as well, is to be more fully authentic as human beings by using the internet and social media tools. Here is very conservative Midland Michigan, I was recently asked to become a contributing writer to the Midland Daily News online blog – http://www.ourmidland.com/users/profile/uurevjeff/. I have already been called numerous unkind names, been told I should go live in Communist Russia, and had my faith ridiculed mercilessly. [OUCH. Honey dear, that's rough. It's so hard to stick our necks out, but I promise you that it will actually get easier and then eventually downright entertaining to get these kinds of remarks. It just gets actually kind of fascinating. You keep at it and in some miraculous way God spares you from taking it personally any longer. Occasionally you get a difficult criticism that hurts because it's spot-on, but those are also wonderful in their own way because they wake you up. Most of it is just doctrinal crap, fear and ignorance. - PB]
Each attack hurts me — deeply. [I have total confidence that there will come a time that each attack will NOT hurt you. - PB] And each time I must resist the urge to quickly respond, either in self-defense or even in counterattack. The urge is powerful. [Yes, it is. And if you're developed an on-line persona that is not sassy and counter-attacky, which is how I started with PeaceBang (and then evolved a bit, I hope!), you really must resist those urges. The question is, how much? What a difficult terrain to navigate: wanting to be interesting, snappy enough to keep folks reading, and strong, but not combative. It's very interesting to me to see how clergy columnists find their voices. Some are just so warm and smart and good AND snappy. Most, to me, are just blerghy. Stuffed shirt, over-earnest pomposity. - PB]
But I feel that we clergy must be the role models — not doormats, but examples of how to speak truth openly and fearlessly. [And maybe with some humor? I'm a big fan of humor!- PB] We must help the ship of this society redirect its course to one of civility and compassion and challenge the current dominance of this culture of anger, violence, and intolerance.
When my feelings get stomped, I just remember all of those who came before me who took far worse abuse so I could have the honor of being a minister. [ME too! And I remember all the sassypants women who were tortured and even murdered for being "scolds" or uppity. That's why I will never stop referring to myself as a Witch. - PB] And I remember that for every bully who, lacking facts and argument to make their case try to use intimidation to silence me, there are dozens of lurkers taking it all in. [Yes, there are. Many more eyes are upon you than you realize. I used to get freaked out by that but there's so much content out there on the interwebs now, I take it all in stride. - PB] There are so many people out there looking for hope, praying for a sign that we can make this asylum we live in a better place. I blog for them. [ME TOO. Everyone else can go pee up a rope, as an old teacher of mine used to say. - PB]
Keep up your good work — you are a great inspiration. [Thanks for letting me know that, brother. Hope to see you in person at something soon. Kiss of peace, PB]