My mom is an habitual questioner and provider of the answer to the question. She is 71 years old, quick-witted, irreverent (of all but her God), and suffers fools with grace and kindness. Mean people she gives only a dose or two of kindness then moves on to … candor, let’s call it. The woman has an opinion formed by her experiences. Her opinion is not often tempered by the world’s ideas.
She lives in a very rural part of Virginia which is ethnically diverse but not socially integrated in any great degree. In general, the people are kind and loving. Though they talk about each other terribly, they show up when someone needs help. My mom, however, breaks too many of their rules.
She wants to be in leadership in her church(es) because, though she is female, she has more business and life experience than most others. She wants youth ministry to be important even though, “Yes, they can be disruptive.” She wants to question the quote that air-conditioning contractor gave the church because “It seems high and… are you related to a deacon?”
She argued on behalf of a preacher being interviewed for one church’s pulpit call. During the interview process he had said he would certainly minister to a black family should they need it. That was all the pulpit committee needed to hear and they negated his application. (My family is Caucasian… or “white” as we still say. This church, clearly, is a uniformly soiled lily-white.)
None of these opinions are things that get you invited back. In fact, they get you invited out because these thoughts are outside the realm of good taste in her community. She treats good taste like it is a disease.
Good taste equals the accumulated opinion of a group. Good taste is what the group, behaving as one beast, believes is right. That one beast is composed of lots of smaller beasts, some more powerful than others. The beast’s opinion, like any average or median, doesn’t exactly reflect many, if any, individuals’ beliefs.
Good taste effectively quells clear thought, original thought, and forward movement. It is a solidifying of past thoughts, whether past thought was right or wrong. I hope that Mother gets thrown out of three or four more churches during my lifetime. I cheer her each time. And I think God does, too.
As for the message I take away from her actions and thoughts, it is “Have an opinion on which you decided, as opposed to the one you were assigned.” Oddly, Seth Godin often writes this very thing using different words. I am guessing Seth and my 71-year-old mother who drives her own tractor have little in common. But, based on his unwitting alliance with my mother, I give Seth a lot more credibility than I would have otherwise.