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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Transparency

I’ve recently heard a great deal about the need for transparency in our relationships with one another and I must admit I have more than a few reservations concerning this trend. If transparency means being open and honest then I would quickly agree this is an essential element in any successful relationship but if being transparent means we should openly express our every thought and emotion without regard for the consequence then I suggest we reconsider.

I’ve always believed that it’s best to first prayerfully consider my thoughts and desires before expressing them out loud. Many times I find my feelings are invalid and the thoughts they spawn would be nothing less than a lie if verbalized. Should we not first bring these thoughts captive to Christ and put away the thoughts of the flesh? Shouldn't there be a reasonable limit to what we share of ourselves and with whom? How can you balance being transparent with “seasoning” your speech?

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29 Comments:

Blogger dorsey said...

My take on transparency is, as I think you're suggesting, the dropping of the facades that we hide our real selves behind. Some people call it the Sunday Morning Game Face. I have watched people who I know are dying inside offer smiles and "doing great!" to people who greet them in church. Then, they crawl away to suffer in silence. They hide for fear of being deemed somehow less worthy or loved for their failure or frailty by self-righteous people who are just as weak and broken.

If we are to have a healthy relationship, I NEED you to know how completely screwed up I am. I need it because, when my weakness is apparent, then I can't throw stones at you when you blow it. That's really the only way love in community can flourish. Otherwise, everything is a maneuver.

9/11/2007 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse I can’t think of anyone to better discuss this with than you.

I know we agree that our primary concern should be to ensure or incite our love for God and one another and I’m concerned that in an effort to be transparent we might easily overlook our primary concern.

If my understanding is correct then our “screwed up” disposition, both emotional and situational, is a direct consequence of our screwed up actions or more often our unconsidered reactions when confronted with problems in our lives. We leap before we look and spend the majority of our time trying to survive the consequence of our fall.

Let me try to use your example of the person who allows fear and prejudice to provoke them to lie to their brethren. Her fear and her prejudice are most likely valid and so she is wise in withholding her pain but unwise in allowing fear and prejudice to determine her actions. By choosing to lie she has brought on herself more guilt, which in turn increases her anxiety and pain. As an alternative could she not simply respond by saying she would appreciate prayer as she’s not doing so well but is not really comfortable discussing it? In this way she has been open and honest and filled the need of that brethren without being so transparent as expose her self to more harm. Her need to discuss the problem could then be met in one of her more stable relationships. She has loved God by refusing to lie and her brethren by granting their need.

9/11/2007 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

I think of transparency kind of like the mantra for pastors back in the 1990s, which then, was that we needed to be authentic. The moment you set out to be authentic, is the moment that you are not.

Just be yourself, or better yet, be who God is making you to be, warts and all, repentance and all. These PR stints are ridiculous. God has made us to be who we are, and to set out to be something so that we can say we are transparent or authentic is silly. Especially since we are transparent. Don't worry, everybody sees our sins... :)

Blessings

9/11/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

I don't want transparency as much as I want real intimacy. I just hate all the pretend stuff to the point it makes me angry. However that does not even come close to using what you think because it is what you think to pour on everyone else in the name of being transparent.

In order to have real intimacy you have to be caring, honest, kind, merciful etc. Self elevation and things like that destroy intimacy.
The issue is people as a whole or at least the people I have meant are very uncomfortable with intimacy, thankfully some here and there not and they and I are wonderful friends.

I think when your trying to hard to be transparent then again we are back to it being all about you.
Thats always wrong, to myopic.

Be loved

9/11/2007 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I'll be the first to say that it's a hell of a lot easier to talk about than to do, but transparency is at the core of authentic relationship, and intimacy is an illusion without it. I think creating a facade is much more self focused than just being who you are. That's something you don't have to think about. Then you can focus on the other in the relationship.

Kc, to my reading, your question coalesces into this, "In order to be real, how vulnerable must I make myself, and to whom?" With the current changing of the guard where I am, It's a question that plagues me, because I don't have a good answer. Transparency is part of a symbiosis of a sort, along with relationship, trust, risk and accountability. I wish there was a good guideline to follow, but I'm afraid that each of us must navigate those waters according to circumstance.

The example you offer is realistic, and probably more common than we would hope. But I think the girl is correct to follow the course you suggest. I don't think it's prudent to lay one's soul bare to the whole assembly (you can't have that many people wholly accountable to one another). But sharing details with one's core of friends, and not pretending nothing's wrong with everyone else, is a sensible and honest approach that sidesteps the shame of hiding from each other.

Of course, it all falls apart if the law of love is not the core and context of all these relationships.

9/11/2007 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Let me add this. It must be understood and assumed that every one of us is as screwed up as the other. No one is immune. This must also be part of the context. For the purpose of your example, the girl needs to know that no one to whom she is making herself vulnerable is possessed of a righteous high-ground. No one in the assembly requires less grace than she.

9/11/2007 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Wise words on being yourself Pastor. Be sure your sins will find you out! I think I’m a little more comfortable with the concept of being real than being transparent.
(Thanks for checking up on us brother!)

Lady Z you’ve given some great thoughts on intimacy. I was a little set back to realize the tendency people have to be short-sighted in their attempt to be transparent but that might well be why we would overlook the primary concern to love. Excellent insight Sis!

Dorse the more I read you on this the more convinced I am that any difference of opinion we might have in this is purely semantic. When you say that intimacy without transparency is an illusion I need only replace “transparency” with “open honesty” to understand and agree. I totally agree with your perspective on all else. I must be getting smarter! ;-)

9/11/2007 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous rrbj said...

Kc,

Are you trying to find out who your true friends are ? I didn't know the meaning of the word Transparency till I looked it up in the dictionary ! It means something meant to be viewed by shining a light through it.

Do you suppose the inventer of the word was saying to let your little light shine meaning as the Light of God shine thru us instead of darkness?

I know that I believe in being yourself 24/7 and not being ashamed of who I am ! I don't believe in going around my elbow to get where I'm Going .

I think everybody has said some good words on the subject ? The post I wrote on my blog " You Are What You Are. " awhile back is a good description of Transparency ?

You never know when you might lift someone up by what you say ? I know that Mrs Zeke always sign Her comments " BE LOVED YOU ARE " and back in the summer Cole was reading blogs and said to me that he liked Mrs. Zeke because she acts like She cares about people ?

I told him that was Her little light shining !

Blessings.
Ron.

9/11/2007 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

As I was thinking more about this and reading comments I also thought this..

I love many people I mean really really in love with them head to toe. But not every one of them is to be privy to everything about me for the sake of being transparent. Stumbling blocks often come from well meaning intentions.

I have to disagree with Dorsey who is one of those I love head to toe. I do think real intimacy can come about without transparency. Without honesty never. Love is honest.
am I making sense?


be loved
KC your way to nice to me, I would tell you why but that is to much transparency :P

9/11/2007 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Gordon Cloud said...

KC, there has been some excellent ideas presented in this discussion. I tend to agree with Dorsey's take on transparency. (Does that mean I am becoming a Dorseyist?)

I'm not sure that transparency with others requires full disclosure of every detail of our thoughts and feelings. I do think that transparency would dictate that there be no pretense in the way we relate to others.

From my own experience, I grew up around many pastors who constantly tried to develop an portray a particular image, thinking that people would respect them more for it. I was very dismayed in the early part of my ministry to discover that this approach only served to build an artificial distance between myself and the people to whom I was trying minister.

What Bro. Timothy said is true. It's best to just be yourself. I think that if we are serving under the law of love, it will be obvious when we need to share certain things and to what extent we need to make ourselves vulnerable.

Transparency is not something that can be manufactured, it just simply occurs when we remove the artificial tint from the windows of our lives.

9/12/2007 12:51:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Grandpa Ron with that definition you gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to be transparent! What a great picture!

Lady Z I’m still laughing at your lack of transparency with me! ;-)

I’ll let Dorse answer for himself but I suspect your disagreement with him is only in the definition.

Preacher I think I’m understanding Dorsey’s perspective of transparency as being the absence of pretense and, if so, I also agree. Your last statement is a gem,

“Transparency is not something that can be manufactured, it just simply occurs when we remove the artificial tint from the windows of our lives”.

I think we need a ruling here…Is it Dorseyist or Dorseist? Dorseyism or Dorseism? (Whichever I would say you are one) ;-)

9/12/2007 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

I vote - with my literary scepter - that Dorseist or Dorseism is correct. :-)

To me transparency would describe how I should be viewed - like what Ron said, what can you see when you look through me? I think it more specifically describes my motives. Are they apparent or hidden? Transparency is a passive quality, so I have never considered it to require spewing my opinion for the good or the bad. The term "being real," on the otherhand, for me has the connotation that it is less passive and possibly does require spewing. It's like you say, KC, maybe it's just a matter of semantics.

9/12/2007 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

It began as "Dorseism," but even though the e was silent, it still looked like "Dorsey-ism" (to me, at least). So, earlier this year, in the interest of simplicity and to clarify pronunciation, I dropped the e from the spelling. It's now "Dorsism." However, as Point of Dorsism #23 indicates, if you use one of the variations on you Love Faith Seed Gift check, we'll still accept it.

Does anyone know how to get an entry into Wikipedia? I think Dorsism would be a good one. :D

Mama Zeke, I adore you without reservation, mostly because you are such an extreme love-er yourself. And maybe it's that disposition that causes us to see the same thing, but from different angles. Let me offer this, and tell me if you agree. Given the nuance that has been offered here regarding transparency (lack of pretense, artificial tint on our windows; meant to be seen with light shining through, etc.), I would argue that transparency and intimacy are not all that distinct from one another, and that the extent of the intimacy we enjoy is directly proportional to the level of our transparency. It's not either/or, it's just a matter of degree. This seems to be where you differ with me (as Kc suggested, I think it's a semantic difference, really).

For example, I enjoy intimacy with my precious wife. I also experience intimacy with my good friends. I have even shared what I would certainly call intimate moments here on the blogs. But clearly, these do not equate with one another. I am far more transparent to my wife than I could ever be to my friends. As such, the level of intimacy we achieve on a soul-to-soul level is exponentially greater than what I could experience with anyone else. AND, the degree to which I hide myself from my wife or my friends is the degree to which the illusory element of intimacy comes into play.

I like Missy's observation, that transparency is a passive quality. Also, as I have commented to this thread, I keep getting the picture in my mind of Adam hiding from the Lord in the garden. I think there's some rich imagery there that pertains to this issue.

9/12/2007 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Dorsey, is there a central source for the tenants of Dorsism or would I have to comb through years of comments? I would be great fun to author a wiki entry for it!

Mrs. Zeke, I don't think I've ever specifically addressed you, but I love your heart and observations! I think, with my definition of "transparency," that real intimacy requires it. Hidden agendas and motives destroy intimacy - it's simply an illusion of intimacy. But, I think intimacy can be achieved without complete vulnerability, and I think that is what your meaning is?

9/12/2007 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Since one of the early iterations of the Protestant Pub, I've kept track of the points of Dorsism as they have revealed themselves to me. I will be happy to make them available to anyone who wishes to chronicle this small, but mighty movement for future generations.

I also agree with your comment to MZ.

9/12/2007 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Well maybe we are all saying the same thing, you all know I am slow so let me see if I can expand and we discover it is all the same :)

There are real intimate relationships I have and by that I mean close, honest, loving and with integrity that are very one sided for lack of a better term. That is because in those relationships I often hold someones deepest darkest struggles and I am that persons place to be safe and honest.

It is not that I could not share in a transparent way but rather to change my role would take me out of service for that person that to me would be unacceptable.

Maybe I am seeing it wrong honest love for sure is transparent, but many intimate relationships are really service to another. They or you risk everything to be honest and they are you help hold it never causing them harm with it.

That is what a husband and wife have and very good friends and I dare say that is the way it was intended.

How do you know when your attempting to be transparent that your really not just turning focus on yourself? I think I am a tad confused.

Dorsey my dear I agree I think..but its ok cause I trust you enough to know agree or not you would not bring harm. Dorseyshzism its ebonic for it.

Missy yep yep thats it. So in my effort to understand I think I am looking at transparency as an agenda or effort and then it becomes something that destroys intimacy.
I am probably looking at it wrong..so Ill just agree with everyone else but mostly Dorsey so I don't get kicked out.

KC it is not nice to mess with someone after a long break I am out of logic practice

Be loved

9/12/2007 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy you always add a dimension to these discussions that no one else could. ;-)

Lady Z I’m not worried for you. You hold your own very well! ;-)

Dorse thanks for all your input and for the clarifications as well. ;-)

After reading everyone’s thoughts I’ve concluded that the term “transparency” is highly illustrative of the effect of post-modern thinking on language. I would also say I’m behind the times in my thinking. ;-)

9/12/2007 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Dorsey, send that list to me! missy_vinson(at)yahoo(dot)com

9/12/2007 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

"...mostly Dorsey so I don't get kicked out. "

Wow, it's good to know that I carry that kind of weight, but you certainly know I'd never throw it around like that. :p

Love you tons.

9/12/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, are you saying I have an odd way of thinking? ;-)

My dad is here for a visit, and he brought up a point. If being transparent is doing what you are thinking, then the most transparent people are psychopaths. I guess I come by that odd way of thinking quite naturally!

9/12/2007 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Wow, your pop has some wicked awesome insight, Missy. That certainly gets to the quick of it. Perhaps even transparency can to with a little tempering? Hmm...

9/12/2007 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy I prefer the term, “unique”. ;-)

but seriously, your thoughts really do increase the dimension of our discussions.

I have to agree with Dorse on your father’s perspective (Hi Missy’s Dad! Welcome to bloggerville!). I think he clearly understands my concerns.

I’m sorry for being so slow to respond. Brethren please pray for my eldest daughter. She has had serious problems in her marriage and on Monday night her husband had her served with divorce papers.

9/14/2007 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

I have to offer that I think Dorsey is spot on in his comments (all except that meandering rant regarding 'dorsism'....)

Transparency is vital and necessary, in intimate relationships as well as in spiritual relationships (fellow brethren).

What we must understand is that transparency is not the same as effusive disclosure and 'honesty'.

I want... nay. I NEED to know my Pastor used to have a drinking problem, or that he once struggled with faith and turned from the church (or used to be an atheist). I need to know that my church elders understand my problems because they have had problems of their own, otherwise I cannot be secure in seeking guidance for my own failings.

We are all in the same boat. We all have problems and struggle to be 'christ-like'. Even Paul spoke of the thorn in his side. Without transparency there is no safe haven, no trust.

9/14/2007 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Commom sense really helps a lot with this. I know a guy who knew a girl who wanted to date him. She was overweight for his appeal. She made it be known, over time, that she wanted to be more than friends. He, when confronted by her as to why he was not interested, told her that it was because he did not care for overweight women.

IMHO, he could have used a little less transparency and a little more seasoning of speech.

He was the best man in our wedding. I am glad we did not ask him any questions in which he could be thus transparent. :~)

9/15/2007 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Hi KC,
Upon further review...
When I thought about it some more, maybe being yourself is not what we should be, given that Christ never called us to be ourselves, but to die to ourselves. But... I need to ponder that one. Does dying to oneself, mean, not being oneself, or being what Jesus is making us to the point that self is excluded from the picture all together in order to serve others? (Methinks I'm sound a bit KC-ish!)

The point is... how is it best to be oneself in light of the command to die to oneself?

Maybe that is what the transparent-authentic gurus were trying to arrive at.

9/15/2007 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Rose, I don't consider that guy transparent so much as just an inconsiderate jerk.

Timothy, excellent point. I think transparency, as we said earlier, is dropping the pretense and taking off our masks, acknowledging that, as we are trying to put on Christ, that we're all in different places and stages of doing so. It's the masquerade that we have it all together that is such a barrier to relationship.

9/15/2007 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Rev great to see you! Even though you’re openly opposed to Dorsism your comment sounds like it was written by the Dorsmeister his self, especially this, “We are all in the same boat. We all have problems and struggle to be 'christ-like'”. ;-)

Sis it seems your friend could have used a bit more tact. ;-)

Pastor that really does sound like something I’d say. Simply brilliant! (hehe)

I love you guys ;-)

9/16/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

KC,
I knew you would like that one. :)
Blessings

9/26/2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

(hehe) Si! Muy mucho! ;-)

9/27/2007 04:53:00 AM  

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