Thursday, February 18, 2010


schiz·oid (skĭt'soid') adj.
  1. Of, relating to, or having a personality disorder marked by extreme shyness, flat affect, reclusiveness, discomfort with others, and an inability to form close relationships.

  2. Of, relating to, or suggestive of schizophrenia. No longer in scientific use.

  3. Informal Relating to or characterized by the coexistence of disparate or antagonistic elements: "This schizoid town is part resort, part sardine cannery" (Jean Anderson).
It's the third definition I was thinking of when I used the term in a meditation I wrote for Ash Wednesday. It never occurred to me that this would be offensive to anyone. But apparently many health care professionals were offended because they descended upon Episcopal Relief & Development with angry outcries.

This was not ERD's fault; it was my failure to be mindful. But as the publisher, they took the fall, and now must scramble to do damage control. They have issued an apology statement to all those who receive the meditations via email, because they take people's feelings seriously. When language usage is harmful then the responsibility must be accepted and addressed. My feeling is we both have done that.

In my life I have not ever been especially conscious of the politically correct way to do things. George Carlin is one of my heros, and he was probably the most offensive comedian to walk the earth; may he rest in peace.

And… I have to admit I'm still processing my feelings on this. People who know me (and like me) thought nothing of it. It's just the way I talk and my voice comes out in my writing. But people who don't know me, who have no reference point to hear my inflection… they are the ones I must worry about.

So now I'm second-guessing all the meditations I wrote. What else did I say that will offend somebody somewhere with a sensitivity to something I'm oblivious to? Time will tell.

This is definitely going to be a most interesting Lent.

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