The criticism has begun. Pro-Pearl defenders who appeared with me as guests on Anderson Cooper's show have written a piece wherein they claim "the entire show was twisted" and how they "watched time and time again as Anderson Cooper and everyone else on the show habitually cut off the Rev. Pearl as he was trying to answer emotionally charged, biased questions." (emphasis mine)
I have refrained from sharing my own experience about the show. But I will share a bit now.
Michael Pearl was given ample time to share his views on the show. Indeed, he had more air-time than anyone else. When he was interrupted it was because he was rambling. As a preacher, people listen to him--I got the feeling that he rarely listens to others and is unaccustomed to being questioned.
As far as the questions being "emotionally charged and biased," well, the subject matter itself was emotionally charged since we were dealing with the actual deaths of young children.
Additionally, if the Pearls had shown a little humility, grace and genuine sorrow about these tragedies, then the line of questioning wouldn't be as tough. But instead, the Pearls have repeatedly--and brashly--defended their views, refused to modify their harsh recommendations all while calling their critics "uninformed" and accusing bloggers like myself of inflammatory rhetoric.
Here's the thing: I never set out to be the official voice of criticism. I am simply a woman who, as a young, impressionable teenager was deeply entrenched in an abusive, fundamentalist church. I read and learned and LIVED the Pearl teachings. I will never know how I survived my abusive environment or how I had the strength to reject the teachings and not perpetuate them upon my own children.
But I did survive. I did escape. And this is why I speak out.
Since taping the show I have thought of all the ways I could have said it better or differently. I have second-guessed myself. I have lost sleep worrying about how I failed to say it all the right way.
But then I think: remaining silent is worse than saying it badly.
And when I was trapped inside an abusive, scary church, I was grateful when people were brave enough to speak out--even if they made mistakes while doing it. Eventually, enough people spoke out and the evil in my church was exposed. Their courage inspired me to do the same.
Perhaps my courage will inspire you, as well?
Tomorrow the show airs and today, I have lost my appetite. I cannot stop the tears. And yes, I feel scared. I have received some pretty mean-spirited backlash....from other Christians.
Still, I truly believe in living a courageous life--from the heart. Just know that I am very human. Right now as I type this my fingers tremble.
Pro-Pearl defenders would like nothing more than to frame this issue as an attack on Christianity by the "liberal media." But that is simply untrue. I am not part of the so-called "liberal media." I am simply a wife and mother to five children. In my own, imperfect way I seek to follow the compassion of Christ.
I have no agenda other than speaking out on behalf of hurting children.
If I make mistakes and don't speak perfectly, forgive me.
It was better than remaining silent.
The show airs on network television (not cable! not CNN!) tomorrow. To check local listings, go here and find out when it's on in YOUR area.
updated: if you're in Southern California, the show has been bumped to air on Monday due to Pac-12 coverage. But clips from the show will be available online at www.andersoncooper.com . Since I have to wait until Monday to watch the whole thing, I'll be relying on all of you to email me/FB/tweet me your feedback. :)