29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. 30 Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy—you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4:29-32, CEB
This summer I got to spend part of the week at a conference talking to and learning from James Alison. I’ve written about this a few times. He’s the one who alerted me to the reality of scapegoating. Ever since, I’ve felt horribly convicted about a number of my relationships.
James writes for an organization called the Raven foundation, and one of the primary themes in the stuff they publish is “peace.” They believe that the alternative to scapegoating and violent relationships is peace through unity. One of the things I read as I continued to study this line of thought is that “gossip” is a way of scapegoating.
It makes sense. I’ve begun to realize that it’s often easy to bind together in conversation through talking badly about someone who isn’t present. Why do we need to do this? Is it really that hard to have a good conversation where we don’t drag someone else down in the process?
Why am I bringing this up? Well, at the holidays we spend time with a lot of people we don’t see that much. It’s sometimes easier to get involved in a conversation where we all rally together by dragging down someone who isn’t present. It’s an easy escape from digging in and digging deep in these otherwise surface-y relationships. So, in the spirit of the holidays, I’m going to make it my mission to try to offer “peace” instead of engaging in gossip to feel comfortable.