My friend Becky Garrison and I have been emailing about the various coalitions that have been forming or not forming around the question of evangelicalism and homophobia. Becky is a Christian satirist -- that is, a Christian who writes satire, not one who satirizes Christianity, though come to think of it she does that, too. But like most satirists she mocks because she loves, and because she loves her faith she's angry about the way it's so often abused. We have sort of an ongoing mild debate about what to do about it. Becky's keen on alliances, but I'm wary. Whenever one group or another tries to recruit me and my books for their cause I get uneasy. This morning I came up with an absurdly mixed metaphor of cliches to explain why:
To be honest I find the whole project of "common ground" to be a distraction. My first interest is the story. Second comes politics. Politically, I think there's a lot too much bridge building going on. Sometimes you need to tear shit down. Or, to put it another way, writers shouldn't be in the business of building big tents. We get on the stage and tell a story and leave it to others to decide whether they want to listen. And then those folks, if they're all standing around together, might want to build a big tent for themselves -- at which point, the writer had better skedaddle or risk getting stuck telling the same story over and over again, ever more polished, like an 80s one-hit wonder trapped in the matinee slot of a second rate Vegas casino forever.
So I tell my stories about C Street or the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda or some other problem of fundamentalism. People want to build coalitions with that information, great. People want to bust up coalitions with it, maybe even better. The myth of common ground is the lie of empire. It's also the bane of literature, since common ground can only be achieved by shaving off sharp edges and losing specificity.
Becky, fortunately, keeps the sharp edges; that's what satire is good for. Here's one of her sharpest, the fabulous cover of her new book, coming out next month: