Why do you constantly talk about the negative???

perspective

By Kenneth Justice

~ I’m taking the morning off from my coffee shop article series for a much needed day off……but if you’re interested in a few of my ramblings read on – Kenneth

Why do you write so many negative articles about Western Christianity and the church?

That’s a question I get from time to time; people wonder why I can’t write ‘happy’ articles about how wonderful the church is or how loving my fellow Christians are……and at the risk of sounding defensive; I have written many different articles but the reality of the situation is that the negative ones tend to stand out in people’s memories.

You are more likely to remember a time from your childhood when your parent scolded you for something you were innocent of……than a particular time when your parent thanked you for sharing your toys with a sibling.

Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or fill in the bank; many people enjoy the book of Psalms. A book of poetry, beautiful songs, and well-rounded wisdom that is often applicable to many situations, the Psalms is one of my favorite biblical books; but people don’t realize that the Psalms is one of the most “negative” books in the bible.

Consider for instance the very opening sentence of the book, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” 1:1

Did you notice the three negatives in one sentence?!

–)  “not in the counsel…”

–) “nor standeth….”

–) “nor sitteth….”

Instead of opening the book of Psalms up with positives, the very opening verse begins with “not” and two “no’s”. And if you go through the book of Psalms, like I do every morning, you will find the book overflowing with negatives. In fact, at times you will read prayers from people who ask for some pretty awful things;

—) In Psalm 109 the Psalmist is having a problem with some dude and asks God to not merely bring ruin upon the dude that is bothering him, but he asks God to shorten the guys life (v 7) and then after the guy dies the Psalmist asks god that the dude’s children would become orphans! (v 9)

—) Even more intense is Psalm 137 where as C.S. Lewis puts it, “A blessing is pronounced on anyone who will snatch up a Babylonian baby and beat its brains out against the payment” (v 9)

—) Even the most famous Psalm which many people know by heart (even non-bible readers) Psalm 23 which starts out with the beautiful “The Lord is my shepherd” after moving beyond the beautiful green pasture and gentle flowing waters, the Psalmist suddenly asks God to prepare him a meal in front of ‘those that trouble me’ so that they have to sit there hungrily; forced to watch the Psalmist eat without getting a morsel themselves!

Why is Psalms so negative and filled with so many negative things?

 I believe the answer is simple; the Psalms are filled with the negative…because in many ways the world is a negative place;

—) Gossip

—) War

—) Prejudice

—) Racism

All across the world people do negative and nasty things….and the Psalms has at its very forefront the goal of being an authentic book. It is a real book, where real people, grapple with real things; it’s authentic.

The people in the Psalms ask god for things that they probably shouldn’t receive; like someone’s baby getting its brains beaten out on the pavement. But the Psalms isn’t endorsing that kind of behavior; the Psalms is merely a book of prayers and songs from people who are expressing how they are feeling.

There is nothing wrong with expressing how you are feeling…..as long as you don’t give in to nasty impulses.

And so,

—)  Sometimes the Psalms are filled with joy and happiness

—)  Sometimes the Psalms are filled with sorrow

—)  Sometimes the Psalms are filled with prayers from people who are venting their frustrations

The Psalms are no different than modern music and lyrics which cover so many different human emotions from love and hate, to peace and joy.

And so as a Christian, if I strive to be authentic in my writing; how can I not from time to time write about the negative? Am I supposed to pretend that the church and my fellow Christians are always wonderful people….when they really aren’t?

Of course, not all Christians are nasty; but I never said they were. In my quest to be authentic I can’t help but call it like I see it; there really is no other way to write except to write the things you see….its similar to an artist, as Marth Rothko said, “An artist paints as a way to express their view of the world onto canvas” .

This is also why I don’t limit myself to only writing about Christianity. I think about a lot of things, in fact I probably spend the majority of my time studying art, music, and film……and I don’t ever want to corner myself into only writing about the bible or church-life. Besides, I have many friends who are not Christians, and while they don’t mind me sharing something about my experiences regarding church occasionally; they don’t want to hear about church-life all the time.

So why do I write negative articles about the church and western Christianity? Because my utmost goal as a writer is to be authentic…..

Kenneth Justice

—-I Will be in Atlanta next weekend! I arrive on February 28th and will be at two different coffee houses on March 1st…i’d love to have coffee with you! Check out my homepage for more dates and locations.



Categories: Religion

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60 replies

  1. In the few days I have been reading your blog, you have had material posted every day. This gives me a reason to come here. If you keep the quantity up, the quality will take care of itself.

    • Chamblee,

      Thank you, I try and post an article every morning. I have hundreds written in advance, but it takes me a bit of time to edit them for publication, but I’m usually pretty good at having a new one every day

    • I try to have content every day. I have a 2700 post archive, and will post a rerun if the muse takes a day off.
      Btw, you say that Intermezzo is going to be an Atlanta visit site. They have multiple locations. You may want to specify which one. The one on Ashford Dunwoody Road would have more parking than the one on Peachtree.

    • Chamblee, I’ll be at the Midtown location in the morning on Saturday March 1st 🙂

  2. It would be interesting to meet you if you make it to Tucson – one of your non-Christian readers.

    • David, I’m not sure about Arizona yet….. once I find a tickets to Texas & San Francisco, most of my schedule will be set and I will see how many weekends I have left to add.

  3. Who improves that does not self reflect? I have been part of many organizations and groups of people. As a member it is our purpose to express clearly what is working and not working for all. Who better to understand problems then those invested in their removal. I have recently been approached by many friends in my group for sympathy of a members death. I have made it a point to send all well wishers off with a way to be more helpful to the next recipient of their “help”. Even the ones they don’t much identify with.

    • “I have made it a point to send all well wishers off with a way to be more helpful to the next recipient of their “help”. Even the ones they don’t much identify with”

      Well said Ellen 🙂 self-reflection is vital and its the people who never self-reflect that get stuck in vicious cycles of never-ending repetition

  4. Well, the truth sometimes hurt and so pain. Good and bad are part of life, we must face it, we like it or not. Showing the truth is not easy. Some people will say no respect, but the truth is truth, no need to be defensive. It needs us to be open mind, get some positive things behind it. For me, I love to my God, after read it, more… Human is a human.. who had fault, never perfect.
    Hope I can sit with you, here in Indonesia.. 😀

  5. I enjoy reading your posts. I don’t mind the negative posts, I write them myself frequently. 1) as a way of venting, and 2) because, let’s face it, the negative is more entertaining. If all we wrote about was the wonder and splendor of life, we’d never have any fans. 🙂 BTW, I’m a Christian in SE Michigan, you headed this way?

  6. No one can deny the daily negative overtones in our world; I can agree with that. Regarding Psalms 1 the writer is warning against receiving bad council and surrounding one’s self with negative influences. I do not consider warnings of danger a negative. Seeing a young child about to touch a hot stove would be met with “don’t touch that” and likely with a raised voice. The warning is to prevent pain.
    A Servant

    • A Servant,

      Good thoughts. The goal of the Psalmist is to ultimately point out that the world is not perfect; i.e. there is ‘bad’ in the world and we can either acknowledge what is wrong in the world and choose to act differently…. or can we can just go along with the crowd.

      In terms of Christianity; there is much ‘bad’ with the modern church such as lack of community, lack of outreach to the poor and neglected, the list is endless. We can either acknowledge that these negative things exist, or we can identify them by pointing them out and saying, ‘this shouldn’t be so’….and that is what I was getting at in my article 🙂

    • When I hear the word selfie I think of the pictures people take and post. I don’t like to use the words religion, fundamental or charismatic. However the way we live, act and interact with the world at large is also a selfie that the world posts about us. So what should a good Christian act like? Just ask non-Christians, they will tell you. Christianity is no mystery.
      A Servant

  7. Thanks for a good post. Another great example is the Ten Commandments. Most of them are stated negatively: “Thou shalt not.” It’s according to the aphorism in Isaiah 1:16-17: “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.” When we see, identify, and stop doing what’s negative, it leaves room for us to start seeing and doing what’s positive. You can’t stop doing something wrong until you realize you’re doing it. It’s like the old saying about not being able to escape from your cage until you realize you’re in one. Identifying the evil makes it possible for us to begin the process of escaping from it and moving toward the good.

    • “cease to do evil, and learn to do good”

      I love the verse reference, its a good one. Not only because it is so applicable to what I was writing about today, but also because its such a universal truth that can create discussion between numerous religious and non-religious groups; because who can deny that pursuing ‘good’ is a bad thing!

  8. Excellent post, Kenneth. You are real. Keep it up.

    I will admit time doesn’t permit me to read every single post you write, but I read quite a few. As long as you are not crossing the line from agreeing with your accuser to becoming an accuser, I’ll keep reading. So far, so good.

  9. What I love about your blog is that you always give me something to think about!

  10. When I first started reading your blog I thought you are obsessed with religious, but I see you trying to pick on what stands out the most .
    It’s the quality of your words, not the quantity or loudness that could click on readers’mind. Lot of of heavy words, negative thoughts; the painful truth must come out, like the flowers needs the rain that comes with thunderstorms. ☕️

  11. Interesting post! I think that we have to write negatively at times because the world isn’t always a positive place. There are positive and negative sides to many things, especially complex ideas such as religion.

  12. The good people of the world focus on the negative. The more helpful way to view the world is from the point of view of a REPAIRMAN. talking about what’s good in the world has a place, but that place should occupy something less than 10% of our time and energy. The important thing is to identify what is wrong in the world and try to find a way to fix it. Of course this isn’t only about Christianity, but Christianity certainly shouldn’t be exempt. I’ll stop before I spell this argument out from the dark side.

    • The important thing is to identity what is wrong in the world and try to find a way to fix it”

      Very true… some issues are very complex though and there can be gray areas; but I totally agree with your sentiment

  13. Great post! I keep coming back to your blog because the variety of the topics and because I love reading, which is a good match. 😉 Have a beautiful Sunday!

  14. Love this: “Of course, not all Christians are nasty; but I never said they were. In my quest to be authentic I can’t help but call it like I see it; there really is no other way to write except to write the things you see….its similar to an artist, as Marth Rothko said, ‘An artist paints as a way to express their view of the world onto canvas.’” The difficulty is witnessing Christians who are not Christ-like, is that it is so very confusing! I think that many writers are afraid to discuss this issue. Yes, you write about the things you see. This is a good thing! Happy Sunday!

    • Thank you Cate! And I agree, I think there tends to be an attitude within both Catholic and Protestant Christianity where there is a fear that if you write about what you see is wrong then your somehow sinning.

  15. I could also be considered quite negative, but I think it is just being honest or as you said “authentic”. Unless people are honest enough to admit that there are problems in the world, then those problems will go ignored and continue into future generations. I think that being “negative” is the most “positive” thing that some of us can do.

  16. I limit myself to a degree; I shouldn’t write about gardening so much. And I don’t post nearly as often as you. I don’t allocate time to hone my craft. I don’t golf as much as I’d like. And I’m positive that I’ve been too negative right now.

  17. Preach!

    psst, can’t wait until you’re in Philly! I know it’s coming soon! 🙂

  18. ……and of course, you could have added, people only hear what they want to hear – i.e. the negative.

    I guess it would be kind of odd for someone to write and say “why do you only write about the positive?”

    Life, in general, depends on who is doing the talking too. Some people would say I only see the positive because they are positive people and they bring out the best in me and we chat about mutually positive interesting things. Others would say I only see the negative, because they continually complain about negative subjects (and fail to hear me throw in the odd positive comment to their monologue). They hear themselves OR only hear a negative thing I might mention.

    I find it kind of annoying when I mention a fact and people misconstrue it to be me talking negatively. I am merely pointing out that this is what it is (at the time of conversation).

    It all boils down to…………some people’s glass is half empty, whereas others see a glass half full.

    Talking of positive and negative…….a friend or family member will ask me how I am? If I tell them the truth that I’m in severe pain, they might say, you should be glad you’re not “xyz” (bedridden or paralysed or blind etc). In other words, they’re not really interested in your physical (or mental) state at all.

    If I lie and say “Very well, thank you” – they ask me to do something and complain when I can’t do it (due to pain).

    The trick is to say something positive and negative in the one sentence.

  19. If you understood Portuguese, I would say, in reply to your post, “pois é”. In English, the literal translation is, “that’s right”, however it carries a certain weight and feeling along with it when you use it. I don’t even know how I could possibly transmit that in English. Anyhow, I hear you there. Life isn’t all “shiny happy people holding hands” (thanks REM). In fact, a huge part of life entails pain, suffering, hurt, loss, let downs, and the list goes on.
    There’s that word again, “authenic” “authenticity”. Good on ya.
    =)

  20. I think this is one of my favorite posts. I love the ending about wanting to be authentic. I think many writers want to be authentic like many artists – writing is an art form after all. 🙂

  21. As ever, a good thought proving article. To say that your articles are negative seems to be misleading, even when you are commenting on the christian faith and the church. You certainly make the reader think, and you most certainly challenge orthodoxy of thought and recognized and accepted values, but why not. Every body to their own when it comes to peoples faith and thought processes, so long as such things avoid bringing harm or discomfort to anyone, but even the most die-hard optimist can see that some things around us are imperfect

    Sure we can all bury our heads in the sand, and pretend that we are still nebulously floating around a pristine garden of Eden, but what’s the point of doing so when life will kick us where it hurts as it passes us by, and view us with complete indifference as we sit in a corner and cry

    You carry on being authentic, and carry on writing in your own imitable style, and politely forget about the blinkered donkeys that are all around us, as they only have a single ax to grind

  22. We talk negatively so that out own life looks better than what we make of it.
    It may be a good life but we are greedy for better and more. SO make it look the best and talk negative.
    cheers on the sunday roast

  23. That’s so fascinating the way you put it because it implies that a person’s digital audio player is a modern, personalized book of psalms – a sort of cultural archive that reflects the way people live today.

  24. I am a born but not practising Christian (very common in Sweden) I have many times thought of reading/study the Bible, but let’s face it, it is not the most easy scripture to read. Have u ever thouht about writing a “popular” version.

    Not translating it’s message (I guess that it is the purpose of its readers) but only making the language a little more simple (I enjoyed the dude thing). In that way I can focus on the message and not the words.

  25. Excellent point! It drives me nuts hearing Christians talk negatively about Muslims. There’s so much hypocrisy about what’s written in the Bible vs. what’s written in other religious texts (i.e. the Quran.) Muslims hold Jesus as one of the most important prophets (just as Mohamed was a prophet.) Yet Christians focus on “anti-infidel” yet here is an example of Christian “anti-infidel” talk against the Babylonians here in the Bible!

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