Lessons From a Dixie Chick
- Eric Hogue Radio Talk Host and Syndicated Columnist
- 2007 13 Feb
What lesson should Christians learn from the saga that is the Dixie Chicks?
I watch the 49th Grammy Awards Sunday night with amazement. Here were the Dixie Chicks gathering five music awards from the Association, as their CD and song peaked at only No. 36 on the Billboard Charts. “That ought to disqualify them from winning best country album alone”, said Alabama radio station WTDR-FM owner Jim Jacobs.
I agree, it was a peculiar presentation in Hollywood, but that is not my intention of writing today. I didn’t then, nor do I now, agree with the young ladies' short, but powerful diatribe offered toward one man that fateful night in London.
As it was, nine days before the War in Iraq, lead singer Natalie Maines drew cheers when she said, “We’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas”, in an open display of free speech and opinion in from of thousands that became millions. The Dixie Chicks’ flippant statement – free speech – turned into a raging debate about persecution versus consequence.
Herein rests the obvious but often overlooked fact; they decided to offer their ‘free speech’ and their opinion, when it returned to them in kind, their outrage was; “How can we face this unfair persecution and attack?” Truth be told, it wasn’t persecution at all, it was self inflicted.
Whether you agree with their opinion, or not, you don’t offer a statement with that type of ‘tone and tenor’, lack of consideration of physical location (out of the country), immature content and abused context, without getting return fire of the same. Free speech is free, but so is the consequence of speech offered in return. The Dixie Chicks were wrong to play the victim after the verbal rift. They were wrong in categorizing the countries return speech as persecution. It wasn’t, it was best described as raw hurt.
There’s a civics lesson in here for everyone. Free speech is free to offer, but consequential in its return. When we offer flippant statements with poor “tone and tenor”, bad physical location, void of mature content and taken totally out of context for shock value, then we are creating an atmosphere for hurt – not intellect.
Now the lesson for those of us in Graceland, how often do we as Christians say something with the same erroneous “tone and tenor”, without proximity or location, bad in content, poor in context and them scream that we are being persecuted for the cause of Christ?
We get goaded into feeling that God needs us to set someone, something straight, and we grab the first emotion that hits our storage of coin phrases and fire away. We come across to the receptor as mean, intolerant, self-righteous and ego centered. What we meant to say in grace, is delivered in condemnation and human judgment.
Our physical real estate is poor. We stand in a location that is removed from ‘country’, behind the pulpit, at the microphone during a stirred up rally at the Capitol steps, at the keyboard of our vibrating blog page, ever being the people pleasers looking for the quick fix of self aggrandizement without any understanding of the situation with grace’s conduit of compassion.
When we hear the applause and approval of the gathered crowd, we kick it up a notch and add contextual misrepresentations and “evangelistic” stretching of the truth. We make predictions of coming judgments, curses of character, and explanations that Katrina’s winds and water were but a shower to rid us of the filth that was.
As I watched the Dixie Chicks, I watched myself. Oh, the number of times I’ve offered what I thought was powerful reasoning in hopes of opening eyes, only to deliver an open wound instead. I too called it persecution, as the receptor wrangled in pain – and if I could have, I probably would have written a theme song for my ‘I’m the victim tour’ entitled, “Not Ready to Make Nice”.
Yes, the easy viewing experience Sunday Night would have been launching at Hollywood (again), the music industry and end at the Chicks themselves…“there they go again”.
But God has me in Graceland, revealing to me that the tongue is an untamed member of my body. I need to speak through grace if I want to reach the community with His grace; not my “tone deaf tongue”, which is susceptible to speak in poor proximity (location), offering no redemptive content or context for this generation.
A lesson learned from the Dixie Chicks, time to watch our “distant words”, and turn to the “liberal application”, (can a Christian say liberal?), of Jesus’ grace for true success.