So I’ll confess a couple of things up front:
- I don’t trust anyone in the Christian arena who’s too sure of themselves. It suggests to me that they misunderstood something about the spiritual mandates we were handed by Jesus (or at the very best, it means they stay a little more true to Paul than to Jesus).
- I tend not to bother with people who refuse to engage in any conversation that uses the phrase racist, sexist or homophobic.
So I never really warmed to Tony Jones. I kind of thought of him as the problem side of emergent Christianity. (As one of my friends described it, “I wanted to learn about emergent Christianity because I was tired of old, straight White men telling me what to do and what to think. What I got was young, straight White men telling me what to do and what to think.”) When a friend of mine was asked to speak on a panel with him, I told her to keep her distance. When a friend said he had been outright dismissive of the need to involve people of color in the planning process for a conference, I was unsurprised.
But I didn’t weigh in on the huge drama that emerged in recent months about the end of his marriage, allegations of abuse and his new marriage and custody fights. I felt like I didn’t have enough info. Plus, a number of friends of mine (albeit also young straight White men) rushed to his defense and encouraged people not to weigh in on the alleged victim’s side. Some of it was a general invitation not to pile on without adequate information, but a lot of it was expressed support and solidarity with the person they knew and respected.
A friend of mine recently sent me a blog post that I suspect is already sweeping the same circles that were following this story: The Evidence Against Tony Jones.
The article boils down to this: gaslighting and narcissism.
There’s a lot to grieve. There’s a lot to mourn. And in the midst of all of that, I hope that moving forward, we look for allies, friends, colleagues and mentors who exhibit the value of humility in their public life; it may help us avoid being gaslighted ourselves.