Some of you may wonder why our family seems “hardened” to controversy, so I should give you a little back story. When our kids were little, Doug wrote a weekly column for our local newspaper, and back then our community was the one blue dot on the otherwise red map of Idaho. In other words, there weren’t a whole lot of conservatives in town, and the letters to the editor were often filled with critical letters about him. One day I opened it to see this from one of the liberals in town: “Dear Editor, Doug Wilson is a complete idiot. Signed, So-and-So.” I felt like someone had slugged me in the stomach. When Doug got home, I showed the horrible thing to him, expecting him to be outraged. Instead, he laughed out loud and said, “You should write back and say, ‘Editor, So-and-So doesn’t know the half of it! Signed, Nancy Wilson.'” As a result of that conversation, which I consider as a turning point in my perspective on these things, I cut the letter out and put it on the fridge, where it stayed for some time.
As the years have gone by, the charges have ramped up. He’s been called a racist, among other equally hateful things. I remember having a hard time with this because I knew he wasn’t. Why would people tell outright lies? Doug helped me to see that lies are all our adversaries have. And many of these people were and are outright God-haters. They don’t pretend to be otherwise. Others are misguided. Some have a personal grudge they are hoping to ease by yelling out all kinds of bitter lies.
But if you allow yourself to get bitter back, or to nurture hurt feelings, you are the one who suffers. If they really are lying, and they are, then we must do what Scripture tells us to do, and that is to rejoice. Having opportunities to apply the Word is always good for us. A couple of posts back I quoted John Bunyan and Spurgeon and others. Who remembers the names of their adversaries? Yet we are still blessed by their writings and faith. So we consider it our Christian duty to rejoice when the hate-mongers fire up their websites, whoever they are. You can read my husband’s latest blog post on this whole topic here.
That is a terrific way to keep perspective. Let me give you an example. Years ago on the day one of our beautiful granddaughters was born, I had just come home from the hospital when Kinko’s delivered a box containing hundreds of pages of “charges” against my husband, all dutifully signed and even notarized by a couple of malcontents. I took a brief look at the gist of it, and then I put the lid back on. I had a beautiful new grandbaby! We had much to rejoice in already, but I realized that the enemy wanted to distract us away from our joy. We have, by faith, agreed with God’s perspective on these things. We choose to laugh at false charges, no matter who brings them. And we know that God uses these things for good; it is for our benefit. It is an opportunity to trust Him. And He is always faithful. He knows the truth about us all. He knows my husband is no racist, etc. We don’t have to convince Him! And we’ve never yet had an adversary of this kind who really cares what the truth is. They like their lies just fine, thank you very much.
So we have learned that when our adversaries say laughable things, we laugh. God has a sense of humor, of course, and we have learned to laugh with Him. He has, in the midst of these seasons of slander, given us some rather funny times. But if you get all wounded, you miss the funniness.
This latest round of slander fired against my husband has left me feeling bad. Not hurt. Nowhere close to hurt. But I feel so bad when I see a Christian man who should know better making a big public blunder. It’s embarrassing and I feel bad for him. That’s what Professor Anthony Bradley (a professor at King’s College and a research fellow at the Acton Institute) has done when he goes off to get some “research data” from this crowd. Pitiful. I told my husband that he should have interviewed some of the protesters at Bloomington. (This is where my husband was invited to speak to a Christian group and a bunch of protestors showed up. You can see some of that here if you want.) They could have given him some hot stuff too.
When an otherwise respectable man like Professor Bradley does something foolish like linking arms with this crowd, it brings to mind Ecclesiastes 10:1 : Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.
I have no idea why this nice man thought mining from the other team would make my husband look bad. Any fool could rummage around on the internet to find stuff like this. We expect more of actual professors. But I know God means it for our good, and I’ve seen Him use this tactic for our good over and over. In fact, if this keeps up, I’m going to have to dip into next month’s party budget.
Having him link up with some of these old-timers has brought back a bunch of fond memories. This is what I mean about seeing God’s sense of humor in the midst of slander. Like the time one of our very public “detractors” accidentally left a long message on our answering machine in which he was requesting food stamps and left his name (spelling it out for me so there could be no mistake) and number. I of course called him to let him know he had gotten the wrong number. That was a howler! Especially because we knew him to be fully capable of making a living all by himself. But he was busy firing up controversy and couldn’t be distracted by a job.
Bekah has a great story about ol’ Potok (that’s what we’ve been calling him for years at our house). He is the head of the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center, and one of the “authorities” Professor Bradley has gone to for information on my husband. And I thought it would be best if you heard this story straight from Bekah, a star witness.
So, Mom asked me to tell you all about my little brush with greatness I had a while back. ‘Twas truly awesome.
There was a history conference being held in Moscow, and the topic of said history conference was “Revolution.” Someone, somewhere, I forget all the details, started a rumor similar to the recent debacle, that the conference was actually on slavery (and the virtues thereof). Of course, it wasn’t on slavery, and even if it had been, it wouldn’t have been about the virtues thereof . . . but this didn’t slow down the rumor train one little bit, despite the fact that we announced and announced till we were blue in the face that it WASN’T ABOUT SLAVERY!!!!! Somehow they were all too worked up by this time to notice.
Many people were called into action – crusades were mounted against Douglas Wilson and anything he’s ever touched. Ridonculous stories were spread about him. This was the moment that Rachel bumped into the lesbian wearing the anti-Doug Wilson sandwich board. A full page ad in the newspaper announced that Doug Wilson needed to get out of town, and attached a bunch of signatures of people who would like him to leave. (Interesting side note: those signatures were incredibly interesting. There were the usual suspects – all the leftists and lesbian activists were there . . . the same ones who are currently posting nasty links over on Anthony Bradley’s blog – but so were some other Christians, who had gotten disgruntled and left our church over paedobaptism or whatever, and then decided to sign on with the God-haters asking Douglas Wilson to get the heck out.)
This is when the New Saint Andrews front window was smashed in, the sidewalk in front of the building was decorated with swastikas and other charming things, etc. Anyway, it was during this breezy moment, the Southern Poverty Law Center got involved. They began issuing alerts about the hate levels of Moscow folks. (Not the Moscow folks who were so quick with the swastikas, or the folks telling Dad to get out of town . . . no. Not them. Rather, it was a hate alert about the people planning a conference about Revolution and who were possibly even going to go to the awful length of bringing up the poetry of Percy Bysche Shelley. Incidentally, the speakers were against Revolution.)
A large scale protest was mounted – with a lot of people, time, and energy being used up to protest the Slavery Conference. Of course, the anti-slavery protest was going to be happening outside the building where we were all going to be inside hearing about the French Revolution, but that didn’t appear to matter to the protesters. At some point, the Southern Poverty Law Center determined that things were so bad in Moscow they needed to get in on the actual action of the protest instead of merely issuing hate alerts from afar – and Mark Potok decided to come in person to help out. He likes to be on hand when Hateful Events are going down . . . and no doubt a conference that will be discussing the philosophy of Nietzsche brings him running every time.
We heard that he was coming. Ben was in charge of lining up speakers for the New St. Andrews weekly forum called Disputatio. He thought this would be a great opportunity to actually meet the guy who was busily spreading the word about how evil we were . . . and he thought we might actually make progress if there could be a face to face meeting and an intelligent discussion. So he invited Potok to trot along over to Disputatio while he was in town and tell us what he thinks of us.
Shortly thereafter, I was home with my three small children and my enormous pregnant belly. I was doing my usual thing, sweeping up the dining room every six minutes and trying to get the Sharpie out of the couch. The phone rang. I answered, “Hello?” and what I heard was this . . .
“This is Mark Potok, P-O-T-O-K, have you heard of me?”
Unfortunately, I hadn’t. I had no idea who he was. Ben may have told me he invited him and I forgot, or maybe I never caught the guy’s name. But I had absolutely no clue who he was! I hemmed and hawed for a second, madly going through the files in my head to see if I had ever heard of P-O-T-O-K. It was awkward. He, I think, sensed that he had struck out there and eventually just asked for Ben. I gave him Ben’s office number, and he called to decline the invitation to speak. Turns out there’s a bit of a pattern there I think! However, I’ve always loved that as an introduction to a phone conversation. “Hello there, this is Bekah Merkle, M-E-R-K-L-E, have you heard of me?”
Anyway, I hear that P-O-T-O-K is back in the game again, with his professional views of Doug Wilson being called upon. So just bear in mind that he too refused to speak with us when invited! Dialogue is not their strong suit.
So all this is to say, that we have learned the secret of rejoicing in times like these. Why not? God is in heaven. He has ordained even this. He often writes stories with this plot line, and we have seen His faithfulness to us over and over and over again. That’s why we can rejoice and celebrate in Him.