Walking home from a riveting lecture onChristianity and peace, I had just started to cross the quiet intersection thatleads to my neighbourhood when a black SUV, creeping past the stop line,hesitatingly pulled through the intersection and cut me off. It was not thefirst time this had happened.
Filled with righteous indignation at havingto once again interrupt both my train of thought and my walking trajectory toavoid becoming roadkill, I raised my hand and, ever so lightly, I tapped on theside of the car.
Having completed its turn, the carimmediately pulled over at the other side of the road, lowered its tintedwindows and waited for me.
I swallowed deeply.
Awash in adrenaline as I approached the car,the driver inside looked at me and smiled. “You need to be careful,” he chidedin a friendly tone, “when you cross intersections like this-you need to be sureyou stop first, otherwise vehicles won’t know if you are trying to cross. Also,it’s not very nice of you to knock on the side of my car.”
I tried to explain to him how he had beenthe one who, by pulling through the stop line, had failed in his obligationunder the law to stop-he didn’t agree. After a long discussion on our differingviews about our observance of the laws of traffic, I apologized for knocking onhis car; we shook hands and went our separate ways.
Human beings are self-deceiving creatures.While we are experts in observing and judging when others have crossed a line,we are wonderfully oblivious to the lines we may be creeping past ourselves. AsChristians, we are called to be a people who are sanctified in the truth (John17:17), and the truth is that we cannot trust ourselves to tell the truth aboutourselves.
That is why the church needs an editoriallyindependent media-a set of ecclesiastical journalists removed from thestructures, interests and perspectives that animate our church’s ministries. Notbecause those structures, interests and perspectives are uniquely vulnerable tocrossing lines-ecclesiastical journalism is just as fallible-but rather becausewe are all of us vulnerable to our own obliviousness, and we all need one another’shelp in keeping ourselves accountable.
Just as the church needs an editoriallyindependent media, so an editorially independent media needs the church. Howmany governments, corporations or communities of interest are actually willingto fund and defend a gaggle of nosey reporters who might at times hold theirfeet to the fire of public scrutiny? True editorial independence requires theexistence of a people willing to sanctify themselves in the truth; a people whounderstand that, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceiveourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8); a people who know that thetruth, however difficult at times, will set them free (John 8:33).
As I was walking back to school the nextday, I stopped to re-examine the intersection. The stop line was definitely notwhere I remembered it to be. My righteous indignation fled in the face ofhumility as I began to question the truth of the story I had told myself. Didhe really cross the line, or, did I?