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Shooting Mongo and other Lessons in Theology

I have a love hate relationship with the internet. I love that so many things are a Google search away. I have had access to some of the best literature, best conversations and best teaching courtesy of the World Wide Web. I learn best by listening to conflicting opinion. I don't mind arguments. I respect people who can argue their position without making personal attacks. There are plenty of places to find opinions that differ from mine and I don't mind folks trying to convince me they are right. What I hate is the way so many people use the internet to be mean and spiteful. Internet bullies- people with opinions who lack the intelligence and/or communication skills to articulate their opinions without resorting to what amounts to brute force intimidation tactics; ad hominems, sarcasm or deception. I hate it when I spend time actually reading what these folks have to say. Why oh why do I subject myself to their tantrums and rantings? As if life here isn't difficult enough without willingly opening a portal of grief and allowing trolls to spew their sewage all over the world behind my monitor.

Know what I hate most about it? I hate that I want to respond to them. I want to ask them why they think that their hateful words are going to sway my opinion on their position? I want to ask them what part of their behavior is Christlike since they are professing believers. What part of their argument leaves them so insecure that they cannot defend their position without attacking or maligning the character of someone else? I hate that what bubbles up in me resembles what I am loathing in them.

This morning I asked my friends to shoot me if I considered returning to a particular blog. I made a joke about tossing my cookies, dumping my history and begging for "Eternal Sunshine on my Spotless Mind." Yeah, I watch too many movies and too much television. I do want to lose my way to this particular blog. I don't ever want to read it again. I used to be mildly amused at watching the trolls play there. I considered it a bit of an experiment. Instead of an ant farm I watched rational folks try to reason with the unreasonable. Sort of as a pastime. After all, I am a counselor, which makes me an observer of behavior, right? Well, the behavior I need to watch is mine.

It is so easy to get sucked into the foray. Someone says something that is close to your opinion and you want to chime in. Another person says something way out of line and you want to call them on it....the next thing you know you are knee deep in the cesspool and you are slinging sewage with the rest of the trolls.... and someone somewhere is behind a monitor watching with mild amusement not knowing they are only a couple of keystrokes away. Sometimes I wonder if we are not in an episode of the Twilight Zone. My friend, teacher, mentor and all around hero of the faith has said that there is a dehumanizing factor that happens here on the net. People will type things they would not say to someone in person. He's right. I just didn't realize that he was talking about me. Not me in particular, I only mean I am not immune. I see that now.

One of my favorite scenes from arguably the most outrageous movie of my adolescence comes from Blazing Saddles. Alex Karras as Mongo comes into to town riding his Brahma bull. Mongo is a one man destruction derby and the town begs the sheriff to do something. As the sheriff dons his holster to go deal with Mongo, Gene Wilder calmly tells the sheriff "No, no... don't do that. If you shoot him, you'll only make him mad!" Odd as it may sound, that's what I thought of today as my fingers were poised on the keyboard ready to comment on the blog that will not be named.

The Christian life is full of decisions we have to make about when and where to act. Is the rebellious child a prodigal that should be left to eat slop without fur lining the pigpen or a lamb that is lost and needs rescue? Admonish or encourage? Discipline or mercy? Shake the dust from your shoes or keep trudging through the mire hoping to reach someone? I don't pretend to know with certainty how to respond in each situation. I do know that I must avoid sin. If I am entertaining a sinful, sarcastic, comment I need to back away from the keyboard. If I can't read the blog without entertaining sinful, sarcastic thoughts then I need to avoid reading the blog.
God is fully capable of straightening people out without my help. Better I should let Him judge their hearts and the words that spill from them onto their keyboards than for me to willingly become a troll and be judged for mine. I repent.

Psalm 32:1-5
1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!
3 When I kept silent {about my sin} my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away {as} with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5 I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.

Ephesians 4:15-16
15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all {aspects} into Him, who is the head, {even} Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


Vicki said…
Wise words for sure.
I wish I had not gone there either. My curiosity is just dangerous sometimes. It is hard to watch professing Christians act like a bunch of wolves-verbally devouring someone with lies and false accusations and just outright vehement hatred. It is harder still when you know the person being attacked and you know that it is all a bunch of lies.
My comfort is that God also sees and knows: if those are genuine believers(and I find that hard to believe)God will deal with them. "Whom the Lord loves-he disciplines and scourges every son who comes to him". I have been under that divine correction myself-times without number.
I fear that the internet is a very dangerous place for immature Christians anyway-the ugly and vile words and accusations one finds at certain blogs-would probably not happen in a face to face encounter. There is also the danger of being able to carry on in this sin in an anonymous way-with no leader or elder or Pastor able to hold one accountable.
This technology that we have available causes us to live in a world where it can be said "it was the best of times-it was the worst of times"
Please excuse my long meandering, Rosemarie,but you really got me thinking today-thank you!

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