Sex, religion, politics – funny how the most interesting topics are the ones we’re not supposed to address in polite company, that is, if we’re determined to keep things polite.
While most of the time I am prosaically non-confrontational, I jumped into a social media forum last week with less than my usual diplomatic aplomb, but seriously, the other guy started it.
(By the way, if you’re my mother and you don’t understand what I did, it’s as if I were passing by a group of people, overheard a total stranger’s comment to a distant acquaintance, and stuck my mouth in.)
I’d like to know if any of you could have resisted:
“I don’t know,” the guy moaned. “I don’t really have any opinion on any of the candidates or anything and I’m not up on any of the issues and I don’t know if I’ll get around to it, but if I ever do decide to vote, I’ll do it on Biblical principles.”
This guy is scary. Whatever Biblical principles he was nominally thinking of, I’m sure the average atheist would agree that they don’t encompass apathetic witlessness and passive illiteracy of oblivious thought, the latter an activity I engaged in when my fingers moved faster than my brain synapses to type:
“A major Biblical principle is to love your neighbor as yourself, and any politician who promises to stay out of our lives and let us live and let live is probably as close to Biblical principles as you can hope to get,” or something like that.
I don’t deny that I calculatingly tossed in that gauntlet, and it was no surprise when a sweetly religious woman lassoed me with a series of Bible verses, tying me up and trussing me like a chicken, but not so tightly that I couldn’t tap out a few gasping thoughts.
Do I never learn?
Within minutes she was back, shards of glass embedded in the rope this time, pretty much garroting me with a select choice of verses and her appropriate interpretations, forcefully instructing me that “live and let live” is not a phrase to be found in the Bible (I know that), unequivacobly bringing the “conversation” to a close with,
“This has been a nice discussion and God bless.”
I am eternally grateful – no pun intended – that I encountered and made my decision about Christianity before meeting people like this.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Christians need to be in politics, or that they don’t need to be in politics, I’m saying that if people are going to take Christians seriously – in the political, social, commercial, private, and public arenas – then Christians need to be serious about
2) Listening to the ideas of others
3) Responding with grace and humility
4) Recognizing that we can disagree and promote our opinions without resorting to beating people into submission with words, platitudes and Bible verses
5) Accepting that it’s not our job to change the world, but in the lifelong process of allowing Christ to change and shape us, we will manage to do so despite ourselves
“God bless” is not a salutation or a sign off but a heartfelt wish for the wellbeing of the recipient’s soul, and it’s not very convincing coming from someone who has just made us feel small, unimportant, injudicious and irresponsible. End of conversation. This has been nice. God bless us all.
And social media sites are not the best platform for connecting with people – beyond a hopelessly superficial level – on key issues like sex, religion, and politics.
I wonder how long it will be before I grow up and learn this?
Whoa! Yes, indeed, and Whew! I love your list. Perfect list– obviously very carefully worded before posting. And I love your statement:regarding the “God Bless Dagger Lady” in which you say: I am eternally grateful – no pun intended – that I encountered and made my decision about Christianity before meeting people like this.
The tricky bit about this sort of thing is not to become judgy while being offended by someone who is judgy. I have a guilty story where I castigated the castigator to a point where I was acting too much like her and realized it. A humbling event.
But yes– one must state what one will and will not take…just as your daughter was taught in regards to the bully in an earlier post, Carolyn. I say you have stood squarely on principle without bludgeoning anyone with it. YAY!
Wise words indeed, Susan — tricky to not judge a person who judges, and my success rate is not as high as I would like!
The grace of God is not only a blessing but an example for how we are to live our lives. The pursuit of graciousness is Godly and the easy dismissal or rebuke of others, a clear departure from the Word. Compassion for the angry and (my guess is) lonely woman you encountered would not be out of line.
I love your list. Nice post and God bless:)
Your compassion is duly noted and respectfully accepted.
I have met many of these lonely women, and while I am better than I was five years ago, my level of human immaturity is still at the point of letting my defenses rise as my hackles do. At some point, I will be able to accept their limitations with grace, as I would hope that they would try to accept mine.
Carolyn, I don’t think this has as much to do with religion as it does with the lost Art of Conversation – not meaningless chatter, but actual discourse that requires thought, reflection, and listening. But then, that precludes passivity, apathy, ignorance, and laziness. Well, I would have jumped into the pot anyway just as you did, purely out of frustration.
Bea: yes, everyone in this post was decidedly human, and my foible is jumping in and letting myself in for it!
You are correct, as well, about the downgrading of our ability to communicate — orally or in written form — effectively and well. It is easy to forget, in our passion of our beliefs, that we are not only on different sections of the road, but often on different roads, and mere words and arguments will not easily change a person’s mind.
You pretty much got it right. People like the correspondents you had run-ins with would be the way they are, no matter what religion they use as a label, because they are not displaying Christian qualities. They use religion as an excuse for what ever they want to do, or do to others. You can see the same in the Moslem world, it’s the individuals, not the basis for the religion. Most of the great religions have very similar hearts, then the self-centered “interpret” to fit their own desires.
You are correct. I suppose I see this and lament, however, because I am a Christian, and I know how much Christianity has to offer and to say. The lifestyle is so easily vilified and ridiculed within contemporary pop culture, that it always hurts when additional fuel is added to the fire.
As you observe, however, it is an individual thing, and there is always the challenge in each of us as individuals to move forward to the best of our ability, and to try to get it right.
Lots of opportunities to try, fail, try again, taste success, fall down, pick up, try again!
Just noticing that making a real Christian choice of action (the kind of choice that you can tell afterward that God Blessed) turns out being the opposite direction of doing what seems religious.
I’m still learning too.
Sometimes, it seems that it would be easier if it were laid out thusly: “Do it this way, not that,” but the beauty of the God we serve is that He leaves a lot in our court, requiring us to do a lot of thinking, praying, seeking, searching, and sitting still and listening.
It’s never boring, learning, that is.
This “opposite” phenomenon is consistent through the teachings of Christ. Bless those who oppose, give the thief your cloak and your coat as well, etc. I have never forgotten the talk on this that I heard from a missionary speaker back in the 60’s. It’s one of the things that puzzles people all the time…both the people trying to practice it, and also, even more, the people who are the recipient of the unexpected response.
OMG, I laughed so hard when reading this – because I have been guilty of the very same thing – taking the bait and giving my 2 cents worth, only to be drawn and quartered with Bible verses. So now I have an evil little solution. I write my comment and then – yes! I don’t hit enter. So I’ve had my say, vented – but didn’t add fuel to a hungry fire.
I do believe its true that people tend to get a bit more cantankerous from the safety of the cyber world than they would face to face. Hopefully, the meek shall inherit the earth, or at least the virtual world.
Kate — A wise strategy indeed — not hitting that Enter button. Just. Can’t. Do. It.
But since I limit myself, as seriously as I do eating chocolate mousse made with real whipped cream, you know, the kind with the calorie count of 936 per half cup serving, I don’t get myself in trouble too much!
I like the thing about not hitting the Enter button. I do a similar thing when I save to drafts, or even to a folder somewhere so I don’t hit enter by mistake. Give a day or so for ice to melt, or wrath to cool. Then reassess. Printing the thing out helps, too, if you set it aside in a place where you will dare to pick it up later. I do have unsent letters standing by my monitor as we speak.
Slow to speak, slow to wrath, it says…right?
So true, Susan. It’s that hitting the Enter button by mistake that is so scary!
I agree! I respect people’s opinions as long as they don;t always try to present it as fact.
Social media is push in the costume of dialogue. Social media moguls great win was getting the public to beleive that we all want to hear what everyone is thinking. Seems to me social media is the addiction of this decade. I wonder when DC will decide we need to fund clinics to help people get off of it.
I probably sound cynical…I am right now. Love your writing.
Social media is an interesting phenomenon, isn’t it? I am endlessly surprised at the various things people are willing to share right out there in the open, and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to people posting death and funeral information. I know it’s quick; I know it’s efficient; it just seems a little . . . brutal.
Just as everyone has an inner artist that longs to come out…everyone has in inner writer…and “social media” access suddenly gives everyone that coveted syndicated column that they can freely blab away on and get published!!! EGO.No wonder the addictive quality! Very good leverage for commercial exploitation. And of course where there is no screening, the pickings are very much like a landfill!
Some of this, some of that, and a lot of it stinks. If a prophet preaches on the top of the landfill, will anyone come?
I have a theory about blogging, and it’s that it is popular because it is an opportunity for quiet people — the ones who don’t commandeer the room with their hearty laughs and little jokes and “people-person” moving about clapping others on the shoulder — to actually speak their thoughts.
Granted, there are a lot of bad blogs out there — I think the “people-persons” write them because they just can’t bear to not be heard everywhere — but there are some gems by thoughtful, introverted people who observe their surroundings, process what’s going on, and write about it.
It’s why I blog and comment. It’s a quiet room into which to deposit one’s thoughts, whatever may happen to them after they leave your desk. Bread on the waters, as it were?
Social media, like any communication system, can be used by the angels and the perverts. It’s a war!
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