You may not have heard of Matt Walsh, but I bet you’ve seen his blog posts shared on Facebook. His conservative allies view him as straightforward/no-nonsense, and his progressive rivals view him as combative and condescending. He runs an incredibly popular blog, where he writes about social issues more than political ones. He writes about his beliefs about marriage, relationships, raising children, religion, and social policy, among other things.
I write about those things, too, but if you were to name any issue, Matt Walsh and I would probably be on opposing sides.
- Walsh believes that feminism is an excuse for women to kill unborn babies.
- Walsh believes that working moms and stay-at-home moms are locked in a battle against one another, and that stay-at-home moms are morally and spiritually superior to their working counterparts.
- Walsh believes being transgender is some sort of mental disorder, and that parents who acknowledge that their child’s gender identity doesn’t match his body are somehow abusing the child.
- Walsh believes that a little boy carrying a My Little Pony backpack to school is a way to attract bullies, and he would never allow his son to do such a thing.
- Walsh believes that people get divorced for no good reason, and that people enter into marriages too flippantly.
- Walsh believes that liberals are big ol’ meanies who send disgusting, hate-filled e-mails to him when he says something controversial on the internet.
There are some great bloggers who have already rebutted many of Walsh’s writings. (What Is Matt Walsh Wrong About Today? is my personal favorite.) However, as I’ve been thinking about him more and more lately (probably because of how frequently he shows up in my news feed), I’ve realized that I don’t want to try to prove him wrong by arguing against his point of view.
It’s as a friend said to me last week: Walsh already thinks that all liberals are his enemies, and that we’re hate-filled, mean, terrible people. He believes in an us-vs-them world at its most extreme. I don’t want to engage in that fight. My decision to avoid rebuttal blogging is part of a greater narrative that I find myself in right now: an attempt to avoid needing to correct everyone and explain away everyone’s wrongness. An attempt to recognize my own wrongness.
So I decided that I must pray for Matt Walsh. He says that he is a Christian. I say that I am a Christian. Even if our faiths look very different from each other’s, we both fall under the very large umbrella that is the Christian Church. My prayer for Matt Walsh is not satirical. It is not under-handed. It is not meant as a sly attack or a challenge. This is not easy for me to do, because everything in me wants to tell you how wrong he is and how hurtful his beliefs are. (They are hurtful.) But even though I don’t know much about prayer these days–how to do it or if it matters–this is my prayer for this person who represents everything I disagree with.
I pray for Matt’s continued financial success. I pray that he is able to continue to support his family with his writing, because what wonderful thing that is!
I pray for Matt’s family. His wife, his children, his parents, his loved ones. I want him to be surrounded with love. I pray for their safety and health.
I pray that if he is right about the things he writes, then he can learn to communicate better than he does now. Right now he alienates so many of his readers, and if he is right about these things, he needs to learn to be a more effective persuasive writer. Instead of just being good at preaching to his choir, I pray he learns to communicate with people who disagree with him.
I pray he learns to see the humanity in his enemies, his rivals, and his critics. I pray they learn to see the humanity in him.
The cynical part fo me is tempted to pray that his beliefs are challenged by difficult circumstances–to pray that one of his kids is gay (or at least a liberal), or his wife leaves him, or that he experiences the hardships that have led many people to progressive politics. But I can’t do that. It’s wrong and selfish to pray for those things. Instead, I pray that if he does go through hardships–the way we all do–he would find comfort. If he needs to change his mind on certain topics, may his readers give him grace and room to change. If he holds onto his beliefs, may they withstand the difficulties of life.
I pray he gains more empathy for people who are unlike him.
I pray that there are people he respects who will challenge his beliefs and his presumptions, who will prod him forward in his journeys of faith and humanity.
I pray that his blog does not corner him into being unable to change. I pray his public persona can evolve as his private life changes, as we all change over time, but few of us have our thoughts read and shared by tens of thousands of readers.
I pray for Matt Walsh. I pray for my heart to be softened to him, so that he does not make me feel anger. I pray that I can always see him as a person first, and an ideologue second. I pray that in a time where opinions are so sharply divided on every topic, that we could find common ground.
I pray that we could see that we are in this together.