Sometimes one needs to reassess one’s purpose. The purpose of this blog has always been to help creatives to use their gifts in ministry as well as their Spiritual lives in general. For that purpose, a few days ago, I posted my cartoon reflections from our recent church conference. I sketched the cartoons as I listened to some very difficult business sessions. They expressed my emotions in the moment and posting it was sort of like sharing my diary with the world. These were honest impressions of the things I was feeling, a sort of journal, if you will. My hope in sharing this was that the folks who regularly read this blog would see ways to use their gift to deal with their internal struggles in a positive outlet. That was the purpose. Now here’s what happened.
The cartoons were posted to at least one website for my denomination. That’s okay with me, I post these ideas in the hopes that they will spread. The good news is the previous record number of hits in one day for this blog was tripled and we had some really good interaction as a result. The bad news is several people were offended by my cartoons. Offense was not my intent but it happened.
So what can we do about offense? Well the first most honest answer is almost nothing. Nearly anything we do in this world is going to offend someone and the only way an artist can be completely inoffensive is to do work that will please everyone. I doubt it’s possible and if we tried the work would probably be completely bland and say nothing. When it comes to creative self expression, with few exceptions, everything you do will offend someone. Add a faith component to your work and the potential for offense goes up exponentially.
Perhaps the best advice I can give is to avoid being intentionally offensive for the purpose of being offensive. Don’t be hurtful. Adhere to the golden rule and love others. Speak the truth in love. From that point on, realize almost everything will upset someone. Listen to your detractors with an open heart and make a decision. If you’ve been wrong, take it down (I did that with one of my cartoons) but if you feel you’re right, sign your name to it, own it and stand by it. We can’t always be inoffensive but we must always be loving. Sometimes speaking the truth in love is offensive. Neither truth nor love can be omitted. Truth without love is mean and love without truth is a lie.
Offend as rarely as possible but sooner or later if you are true to your calling, you will offend. Jesus couldn’t avoid it, neither can we.