Since coming to USC in September, much has been said and written about my transition from evangelical Christianity to secular humanism, especially in the evangelical community. I haven’t read all the articles, let alone all the crazy comments and arguments that follow them, but I’ve seen enough to be reminded of my first rule of informed media consumption: Don’t fully trust any portrayal of anyone you don’t already know.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying anyone is going out of their way to make me look bad. On the contrary, while none have actually called to interview me, even the evangelicals most upset by my story (like Ed Stetzer of Christianity Today) have treated me fairly and with compassion.
No, my problem is that even when real journalists have taken the time to talk with me directly so that every quote and fact is accurate, by the time they’ve condensed everything enough to fit their publisher’s requirements, I can hardly recognize myself or my ideas. I’m a human being after all, and there’s more to each of us than any single interview or profile can fully capture.
If you’ve ever watched the TV highlights of a game or concert you attended, or read the obituary of a loved one, or overheard a friend describing you to a stranger, you know what I’m talking about. Something always gets changed or spun or left out altogether. Remember that the next time you read or hear something about Justin Beiber or Eric Garner … or Jesus of Nazareth or Mohammed for that matter.