Can spin be redeemed?
I’m not talking about the stuff that advertisers, politicians, and religion in general are pitching.
The question is aimed at us. Can our spin be redeemed?
Maybe I should just personalize this. Can MY spin be redeemed?
I honestly don’t really know. If I asked Sister Angela, the nun my family met at Saint Francis’ 13th century hermitage in Assisi, I think she would tell me no – there is no redeeming quality in spin.
But then if I asked Kanye West, or the average charismatic pastor, I’m guessing they would affirm the many wonderful benefits of spin.
Hmm. What to do?
Well, a few ideas come to my mind. Here they are:
1. If and when we spin—just admit it.
I think it helps when we’re honest about what we’re doing.
Why can’t we say things like, “Hey guys, I just need to brag on my self for a moment – so please look impressed.”
I don’t think advertisers or politicians are ever going to admit their spin, but I wish Christians would. Instead of acting like our particular brand (with all of its various ways of interpreting Scripture) is spot-on, and all the other brands are populated with hell-bound idiots – it’d be nice if we could just admit our spin.
Why can’t we say things like, “Those guys have some great Bible verses about why women shouldn’t be in ministry leadership. We also have some great verses about why they should. We’re more comfortable downplaying their verses and elevating ours – so we’re pro-women in ministry. It’s a tough issue and good people have debated this for a long time. We like our angle on it.”
When we teach, why can’t we just say things like, “I exaggerate to make a point…”
Maybe there is something redeemable about spin when we admit that we’re doing it.
2. Listen to the quiet voice.
You know that internal tension we feel about things? It’s good. Real good. And we shouldn’t ignore it.
There are times when I want so badly to inflate, exaggerate, and spin my story. But there’s also a wrestling match going on inside of me. I know what my ego wants, and there’s a quite voice in my heart that asks, “What about humility?”
That tension is good. It causes me to tap the brakes instead of putting the pedal to the metal for my ego.
Maybe there is something redeemable about spin when we listen to that quiet voice.
“A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.” —1 Kings 19.11-12 MSG
3. Balance spin with ugly truth.
Spin just becomes white noise when it is constant. Like the boy who cried wolf (or cute bunnies), we will eventually be ignored when our stories are always inflated, exaggerated, and spun.
I think there’s a pressure (for pastor-types like me anyway) to be all hype, all the time. Our tweets are full of superlatives: “That was the bestest, brightest, biggest, baddest, bomb-est church service ever!”
I think it would be wonderfully refreshing to share the ugly truth once in a while – something like, “Church wasn’t very good today and we should all forget my sermon—it was bad. I’m sorry. I think it will be better next week.”
If someone was THAT honest, I’d be more likely to believe their hype.
Maybe there is something redeemable about spin when we balance it with ugly truth.
4. Spin “us” less and “them” more.
People who talk about themselves incessantly are not fun to be around, but we all enjoy being with people who are interested in, curious about, and proud of us.
There’s a great lesson.
Brag less about me and more about them. Instead of using all the positive superlative adjectives on myself, use them generously on others.
“You’re my favorite – the smartest 7th grader I know.”
Maybe there is something redeemable about spin when we spin “us” less and “them” more.
“The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: To do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” —Micah 6.8
Is spin redeemable? I guess it depends on who you’re asking – Sister Angela, Kanye West, Pastor McPopular…
So I’m asking you.
What do you think, can spin be redeemed? How would you redeem it?