Why I Don’t Support Paula Dean

I’m bored, it’s late and I’ve committed myself to writing more; so here goes. I know many of you won’t believe this but I actually have a lot of opinions. I know, I know, I manage to keep them hidden so well, but every now and then they pop out. Actually, as I’ve stated before, I don’t want my writing, writing that is read by a scant few, to interfere with my ministry as a pastor, so I don’t feel fully comfortable addressing such peripheral matters.

1. There are more important things happening in the world, and specifically where I live and serve.

This can certainly sound arrogant but there is truth here that I don’t want to lose sight of. In my quest to set right the wrongs of the world I often look past the real lives directly in front of me.

Last night as I perused the RedBox selection for my oldest daughter, I met a man named Michael. Michael was recently released from the hospital and smelled strongly of alcohol. He asked if I could spare a little change and we shared a few minutes of conversation as I located the movie and then talked with him. I talked with Michael about the hope that is found in Jesus, gave him $5, and then spent some time praying with him.

Michael probably made a bee line to the convenience store a block away to buy another quart or two of rotten liquor. I don’t know. What I do know is that crusades have a tendency to so occupy my mind that I push past people like Michael; blaming them for their condition, and praising myself for my “goodness.”

2. What Paula Dean said, and did, was wrong.

I have said some of the things that she said. I certainly have behaved as she is recorded to have behaved. I don’t say this proudly, but rather with shame. Had she appeared contrite it might be easier to support her in the interim.

Her only defense seems to be that others have done what she has done and that what she has done is not that unusual for the time period in which she has lived. I agree that it was not unusual for a Southern individual to speak as she has spoken, but it was wrong. It was wrong in 1963; wrong in 1973; wrong in 1983; wrong in 1993; wrong in 2003; and it is still wrong, and should be recognized as such, in 2013.

You may not like what the media has done in their castigation of her but please don’t argue that it is unfair. Please don’t state that it is unfair for her to use words that others use – this sounds as if you would like to be able to use those words yourself; which is reprehensible considering their origin and purpose. Please don’t spend too much time arguing that some get a free pass while she doesn’t – this is a reality of life, and it should encourage us to pursue after the One who is the rewarder of those who live justly.

3. She’s not my grandma, and she’s not my kids grandma.

Years ago, Christy and I followed Paula and her cooking shows fairly closely. Like many others we were enthralled with her fat-filled recipes and fascinated by her rags-to-riches story. She seemed to be the quintessential Southern woman with charm and an ability to hide 2lbs of butter in a 3lb pecan pie.

I have read many statements espousing how “sweet” and “charming” that Paula is. Uh, not so quick. Watch her live shows. If you’re cool with that kind of behavior as being a role model for your kids, then I’ll just leave you there.

4. We need to learn to accept the fallibility of those we look up to.

Why do we feel as if those whom we look up to must be infallible? This type of behavior is detrimental because it places the emphasis on perfection instead of on the character traits that individuals develop. It also places undue emphasis on the end result of an individual; 7 Tour de France championships, elected to public office, or any other “winning” reality.

There is much value in what someone learns along the way and the lives that they have an opportunity to learn from, as well as the lives that they impact. Too often our only emphasis is whether or not someone “succeeded” or won.

I have no interest in destroying Paula Dean, but I won’t add my clucks to those who are crying foul.

Published by Daniel M Harding

Husband, father, associate pastor.

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