Father Brown is the creation of G. K. Chesterton, a kind, but quirky and a well-meaning priest with a detective’s heart. Recently, I discovered there is a BBC television series about Father Brown. In the episode, I watched recently, Father Brown was placed in a straitjacket in order to erase his memories. They villains feared what he might say or reveal. Interestingly the villains thought that what they were doing was for good.
Why do people do that? Fear. Agendas. Manipulation. Power. However, it is almost always believed to be good and labeled as something else.
It’s been an honor to speak for churches from several different denominations. Our biblical views differ on minor points. I’ve only addressed our differences when requested by my hosts to do so. That is not a straitjacket, it’s respect and love. My respect for my hosts only increased because of their willingness to listen carefully, dialogue and ask questions. That’s healthy. Unity doesn’t mean unanimity.
It’s dangerous ground we tread upon when we try to silence those who disagree with us or defame them. We run the danger of group think.
- Then we run the danger of disagreeing but not rocking the boat.
- Then we run the danger of children, teens and others thinking we agree with the keepers of the straitjackets because we didn’t speak up.
- Then we run the danger of fines, prison sentences, loss of business or life when we realize we must speak up.
This summer Becky and I talked with a beautiful young business woman in Sofia, Bulgaria. Among the many beautiful items in her Balkan shop were religious art pieces. When I asked about them, she didn’t know the simplest of Bible stories. Because it was illegal for parents to talk with their children about the Bible or take them to church when she was a child she told us. Why? Because of what the truth of God’s Word might do!
Vaclav Havel, after serving four years in prison for his work on behalf of human rights in Communist Czechoslovakia would become a leader in pressing for Democratic reforms. Later he would become the elected president. He wrote the following in an essay, entitled, THE POWER OF THE POWERLESS about another communist dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. “Why was Solzhenitsyn driven out of his own country? Certainly not because he represented a unit of real power, that is, not because any of the regime’s representatives felt he might unseat them and take their place in government. Solzhenitsyn’s expulsion was something else: a desperate attempt to plug up the dreadful well-spring of thought, a truth which might cause incalculable transformations in social consciousness, which in turn might one day produce political debacles unpredictable in their consequences.” (italics mine).
My prayer for all of us is that we will be thoughtful and our speech will come from good hearts and be transformative, encouraging, uplifting, truthful, loving and God honoring. Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.” Our Lord said, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (Luke 6:45, NLT)