Friday, July 20, 2007

Letter to Dan Savage

Hi Dan,
Thanks for your reply. I do think a meeting is the best plan, trusting that in the long run a face-to-face meeting builds relationships better than letters to the editor. Perhaps a meeting in a couple of weeks with a group smaller than 10 pastors would be best. I'd propose the week of July 9 and you could choose the location. In my experience it is not uncommon for groups to meet with editors and editorial boards -- this falls in the same category.

I think Seattle pastors are often puzzled by strongly negative responses to their work in local media, given this is probably the most progressive religious community in the country. What we would hope for in a meeting with you would be an opportunity to share with you who we really are behind the stereotypes that are often associated with religious people. At the same time you could share with us how you approach our work in your paper. Perhaps the resulting conversation could move us all ahead in a positive way.

FYI I've enjoyed your writing over many years, particularly your book, The Kid. I hope your family is well and I continue to look for updates about how you're enjoying the work of being a parent.

Blessings and peace ~

Rev. Sandy Brown
Executive Director
Church Council of Greater Seattle

Dan's Reply:

dear sandy,

i hardly see religious people treated with anything but cringing deference in the local media. you really perceive the media to be strongly negative? god, i don't see it -- we pretty much ignore religious institutions in town, and the seattle times hosts columns by a rotating group of pastors. where's the negativity?

i'm sorry if i was curt in my response, but i couldn't help but read your email as "you're-being-called-on-the-carpet-young-man," which i may not have been your intent. but i'm way past being sent to the rectory for a talking to.

we typically meet with candidates... and interview subjects... but rarely with community groups or orgs. some folks at the paper are interested in a meeting, maybe. but we're really not interested in hearing that we hurt some folks' feelings. we write what we think; we're engaged in cultural criticism at the stranger. of course some people are going to be hurt by the stuff we write. it can't be avoided or dialogued away.

i'm aware that there are lots of progressive churches in seattle -- assigning the package i made sure to send people to good progressive churches, where many had positive experiences, and not just the mars hills and antiochs and christian faith centers. but, like it or not, the driscolls and hutchersons are the public face of religious people in the area. is it any wonder most people react negatively?


And my response to Dan . . . . .
Thanks again for your response, Dan. Your correspondence already has been helpful to me, and it confirms in my mind that a meeting would be a super idea.

I'm out of the country right now and with your permission I'll get my assistant going on arranging a date, time, and place. Perhaps we could gather around Ann Landers' desk . . . .

Blessings and peace ~

Rev. Sandy Brown