Tag Archives: ignorance

Tumblr Theology and Facebook Faith

I love the Internet. Practically the sum of human knowledge is available to me at any given time, delivered to my iPhone in seconds. 

…Which makes the general ignorance and indifference in our culture all the more inexcusable.

Whether it’s a ridiculous conspiracy “news” post from the Right or a ridiculous slam on a mistaken interpretation of Christianity from someone on the Left, I have no stomach for it.

Here’s a gem that crossed my feed:

 

Something is very wrong… the simplistic interpretation of Christianity. But whatevs, it sounds funny, right?

Off the top of my head, I think of the verses where Paul deals with predestination. “Jacob I have loved, and Esau I have hated” is an Old Testament quote Paul used to discuss people that God apparently created knowing their undesirable end. If we’re honest (and knowledgeable) about our Christian theology, this puts a little asterisk on the modern Evangelical “God loves everyone” sales pitch.
But we have to get on those homophobic Christians and make them realize what misguided sheeple they are. Plus it’s comedy gold. It doesn’t need to be true; it just needs to get laughs.

I am not saying God hates homosexuals. And I am saying we  (Christians) have NO right or freedom to do so. 

Or consider this one:

 

Sick burn! Clearly not what the verse is addressing in context, but hey–that burn’s so hot the Devil recoiled.

The latter portion of Galatians 3 is about belonging to the family of God based on faith. “You are all sons of God through Christ” is the verse that immediately precedes this. So Paul elaborates that in Christ we are all on equal footing, regardless of race, social status, or gender. 
If Paul really meant this verse to do away with gender and bring in some kind of enlightened spiritual gender identity, then this same Paul would not have written in several other places about the different roles of women and men in the church.

We could discuss what those passages mean, and plenty of varied interpretations exist. But it’s clear from multiple verses that Paul did not think once you become a Christian, you no longer belong to one of the two traditional concepts of gender.

Whatever. It’s making fun of transphobic Christians and their outdated, oppressive beliefs. So who cares if it’s accurate? 

Again, I’m not saying we (Christians) should hate on transgender people. In fact quite the opposite is clear. We’re not called to hate or harm, but to love and disciple others. 

Instead of defending Christians hating (which I believe is indefensible based on Scripture), the point I’m trying to make is that a theology that survived and grew over the past 1900+ years isn’t likely to be properly captured or lampooned in the few words you can put on an image on social media.

And my frustration is directed at Christians too. We love to post things about how President Obama is doing this, or some atheist is doing that. But people don’t always bother to fact check before posting. 

I saw a headline claiming President Obama said the Statue of Liberty is offensive to Muslims, so he wants to remove it. 

My rule of thumb is, “If it sounds exactly like what your political extremists want to hear, it’s probably not true.” So I looked closer.

The so-called news site didn’t have any facts or proof. And the two-line “story” was about an impending government shutdown. The President supposedly said that if the GOP doesn’t send him a funding budget that covers Obamacare, he’ll veto it. 

Which would likely lead to shutdown. 

Which would mean potentially closing national monuments like Lady Liberty temporarily, until the government is funded again.

Nothing to do with Muslims, nothing to do with removing the statue. And this is on the very website making the claims in the headline.

Why would anyone trust this? Why would anyone share it?

It’s what they want to hear. Who cares if it’s wrong?

For nonChristians and Christians alike, there’s a danger in heaping up voices that tell us exactly what we want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).

Ignorance can be fixed with information. But moving past apathy depends on the individual. 

And I’m not convinced enough of us care to be bothered with all that effort. 

Obey the Law

The other day a Facebook post showed me a white police officer with the quote:

“It’s really simple–obey the law, and we’ll get along just fine.”

We do like our one-liners and hashtags when we talk about culture and politics in America. But anything that distills a complicated social issue down to one line is inherently ignorant, brushing aside facets and facts to make a punchy point.

I don’t think we should settle for ignorance, even if it sounds cool.

For example, on obeying the law, there’s a viral video showing what happens when two men legally carry their AR-15 rifles in public.

In case you don’t watch it, here’s the story:

The first man (average Joe white guy) is walking with a couple friends, all recording what comes next. A policeman shows up, exits his vehicle, approaches and asks for their IDs. The man says, “No, you have no need to take my ID, I’m not doing any crime.” The officer accepts this and begins questioning why the man is walking with an AR-15. The man replies, “Just exercising my rights as a legal firearm owner.” While the officer isn’t happy with this, the camera fades and we see nothing else after that.

The second man, who the video description calls a black man, walks down a street with his AR hanging at his side, untouched. His pregnant wife follows behind, both recording everything that happens next. A policeman stops in the street, steps out of his vehicle, draws his weapon and yells, “Get down on the street.” While the man lays in the street, he explains what he’s doing. “I am a legal firearm owner, exercising my rights to open carry, are you detaining me, sir?”

Not only is he detained, his wife is too. She is ordered (at 7 months pregnant) to sit on the curb while all this is sorted out. More police arrive, first one with gun drawn, then another car, then two others and still another. The police calmly approach and remove the AR, then search the man despite his protests and refusal to consent to search. He is led off to the sidewalk, his gun is taken (presumably for a check against some database), and a K9 unit arrives.

Both men obeyed the law but experienced a very different situation. One man was able to challenge the officer and flat out refuse to comply. One man’s life was threatened immediately for an extended duration.

Should I still believe it’s as simple as “Obey the law, and you’ll be fine” then?

But the sword of ignorance cuts both ways. There’s more to the story than the viral video suggests (go figure).

The two videos were shot in two different towns, one in Oregon, one in Nevada. What are the crime rates and demographics of those towns? We don’t know. From the video’s limited view, they do appear to represent two different economic levels. Is violent crime more prevalent in one than the other? Several factors can affect how police respond.

Both men set out to make videos about open carry rights, not anything race-related. The “black” man is actually a Hispanic Filipino. Certainly other minorities also can endure disparate treatment, so I’m not saying that to downplay the ridiculous difference in responses.

Supposedly a report was filed about the second man brandishing the weapon, but the video (and the longer original version) shows proof he did no such thing. Still, that report might partly explain a much more aggressive response.

The point is, an argument that chalks everything up to race might miss some key points. More importantly, I’m concerned by what seems like misleading and inaccurate presentation by this group claiming some kind of fair experiment where the only difference in the two clips is skin color of the gun owner.

In the process of writing a novel about racial tensions, I took time to research others’ experiences as well as what drives our reactions to race. I believe race is a factor in how we respond to one another on an unconscious level. I believe it because there is scientific proof.

Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink goes into this snap-judgment mechanism that helps our mind process myriad flows of information on a subconscious level. His book shows how this can be good in some cases, detrimental in others. In making his points, he presents examples of properly conducted scientific and sociological experiments. He addresses how our minds deal with the many emotions and notions we bring to the subject of race.

The end result? Turns out we’re all pretty racist, on the subconscious level. Thankfully, most of us control or resist those feelings very quickly, because we believe it’s wrong to judge someone on skin color. Yet experiments prove there’s still a delay between our conscious better reasoning and our unconscious first judgment.

Most of us–even the enlightened and progressive, even the cops–respond differently at first to the darker skinned person in cornrows than to a lighter skinned man.

Knowing that means we can think about it, talk about it, recognize it and work to reduce how long we operate off that misguided initial snap judgment. And then we can also talk about all those other factors and sides of the story that influence race relations.

That conversation won’t be simplified to a one-liner, and we can’t be satisfied with attempts to do so, regardless of which viewpoint we support.

Bordermarches: Curses

I’ve introduced many of the features of the Bordermarches so far: magic, science, the Divine, and Gracemarks.

Now I’d like to present the opposition to the Divine.

Though I do enjoy good vs. good storylines, I also have a place in my heart for the “simple” clear-cut good vs. evil conflict.

Given my intent to take advantage of biblical themes and perspective, my evil is a lot like Tolkien. It doesn’t create anything new. It corrupts that which was originally made pure.

There are seven Daemons working against the purposes of the Divine in this fantasy setting.

In response to Light and Truth, there is Deceit.

To oppose Strength and Passion, there is Rage.

Nature and Growth are countered by Corruption.

Justice and Order are pitted against Chaos.

The rival of Knowledge and Creativity is Ignorance.

Love and Beauty struggle against Hatred.

The foe of Eternity and Life is Destruction.

My good buddies Merriam and Webster tell me that “Daemon” probably comes from a Greek root that means “to distribute.” The term implies oversight of a thing. These seven Daemons are no different, distributing a Curse similar to the Gracemarks of the Divine.

Serving darkness is not without benefits…

There are key differences. While a Gracemark is under the control of the bearer, the Curse, or Kem, can take control of its host. When this happens, the bearer is more like a husk or shell, a puppet on strings pulled by the influence of the Daemon. Once under the sway of the Curse, the bearer’s true form is revealed, that of a massive horned demon twice the size of the average man.

How YOU doin'?
Kem’neth should look like this, even if it’s blatant stealing from Legend… because Tim Curry is amazing.

Gracemarks are given either as a divine favor or as a symbol of acceptance from a religious order, and they are not transferable. Curses, however, can be granted as a gift of power to a servant of evil, or they can be transferred to an individual who kills a Cursebearer. The person who slays a Kem’neth (or Cursebearer) is usually given the option soon afterwards to accept or reject the Curse. Some people are exempt from the offer: Devoted of the Light and Soulforged of Justice are two examples.

Gracemarks generally give two or four powers associated with their Aspect of the Divine. Cursebearers receive all seven powers, one related to each Daemon, although they each have one strongest power.

No one man should have all that power…

Deceit inspires followers to buy in to the Cursebearer’s lies. But more than that, Deceit allows the Cursebearer to appear to be in two places at once during combat, projecting false images into the minds of enemies.

Rage incites bloodlust and murderous intent in the hearts of others. It also grants the Cursebearer terrible strength.

Corruption warps the hearts of others to serve the Cursebearer’s purposes. It can also twist creation to serve the Cursebearer’s needs, turning Nature against the Cursebearer’s enemies.

Chaos allows the Cursebearer to release bolts of uncontrolled energy. In pseudo-science terms, the Cursebearer tweaks physics on a quantum scale.

Ignorance keeps minions in check and muddles the minds of enemies.

Hatred permits the Cursebearer to detect and track particular enemies over long distances.

Destruction allows the Cursebearer to draw on non-sentient life nearby in order to regain energy or empower magic.

Everything floats down here!
Kem’neth should also sound like Pennywise… because Tim Curry.

There’s only one way to kill a Kem’neth…

The one other advantage of the Kem is a limited immortality. Having given themselves completely over to the service of the Daemons, the Cursebearers are only vulnerable in their hearts. Even if decapitated or torn in half, a Cursebearer will eventually regenerate; the heart must be destroyed in order to put the Cursebearer to death.

Kem’neth can come in both genders and all races, but humans are the predominant race.

That statement doesn’t mean much unless I introduce the various races in the Bordermarches, so I had better do that next.

Think of the Children

I’m usually a pretty calm person, especially when it comes to dealing with other people. It takes a lot for someone to really get under my skin.

I do have my moments. Technology that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, for example, is like turning on a flamethrower in my chest. (I’m looking at you, Microsoft products, with all the ways you try to ‘help’ me by complicating the simplest tasks.)

My dog peeing everywhere, just brazen and unashamed. Yeah, that gets me ‘perturbed.’

But mostly, I keep calm and drink my coffee.

One thing that does get on my nerves is when people spew venom in the name of Christ.

I really hate it when they use children as their excuse.

I really, really hate it when they look right past their own faults to point at the faults of others.

You can’t expect mercy for your sins while proclaiming judgment on everyone else’s.

(I probably hate that because I’m often guilty of that myself.)

So… at some point or other I got signed up for a “defend marriage as one man and one woman” page on Facebook. I only recently noticed some of the stuff they post in pursuit of their cause.

I’ve gotten into it with the faceless individual(s) behind the page. Every now and then, someone says something completely asinine, and I feel compelled to share a reasonable voice with a logical counterpoint to the ignorance. It would be one thing if people were having thoughtful discussions and clarifying how their beliefs intersect with government and freedom and tolerance and all that. Most everyone I know is willing to admit we may not all agree, but we can disagree in a civil manner and hopefully all learn something from the debate.

Not everyone seems so inclined.

This little tragedy of grammar and graphics got posted on my wall today:

I’m not posting this because I agree with the image. First off, I can’t agree with incorrect word choice and terrible cut-and-paste graphics…

I don’t know why, but I happened to read the ten comments on the picture.

It was like a religious frat party, with people giving each other textual fist bumps by reminding everyone about God’s original plan for marriage and how sad it would be when the child eventually says, “I wish I had a father.” Someone ridiculed the smiling faces, conveying the tragic nature of this hypothetical union and its dangerous impact on the child’s development. Someone simply responded with, “Oh, barf!!!!!”

I’ll leave aside the fact that there are children being raised by gay couples around the world and not all of them are collapsing under the burden of self-loathing or grief. Both sides will point to various “experts” with studies that “prove” that gay couples raising children is “no harm done” OR there is irreparable damage. Whatever. Let’s just agree that there are a lot of kids out there who are going to grow up with two mommies or daddies (yes, this is a proper time to use the plural ‘daddies’).

And they’ll be just fine.

There was one voice of reason, who made the outrageous and satanic comment that “Making fun of gays is not going to help. This is a serious issue and a heated debate which deserves a thoughtful response. Insulting people is only going to burn bridges.”

One voice out of ten.

You can’t hear my sigh, but trust me, it’s a long one. (My wife can attest to this.)

The response from the page?

“We don’t believe putting adult lusts above the needs of children deserves consideration.”

Those dirty gays, sacrificing the souls of impressionable young kids on the altar of desire! /sarcasm

Full disclosure: I’m Christian, if you didn’t get that yet. I believe what the Bible says, though I understand a lot of it comes down to interpretation and theological debate. And the Bible seems to clearly identify homosexual activity as a sin.

But that’s not all it addresses.

What do I mean by that? I’ll let my response on Facebook to that picture speak for itself:

“Putting adult lusts above the needs of children is terrible, but people do it all the time. It’s just their sins are heterosexual. Or perhaps just gluttony, or alcoholism. Maybe it’s simple neglect. Maybe even it’s how some parents worship their work or ministry by devoting all their time and attention to those things while forsaking their responsibilities to their children.

“Maybe it’s the arrogance of adult Christians who forget that they’re looking down on the needs of some children out there, children who think they’re gay, who know they’re different from most everyone else, who absolutely know without any doubt that the Church is the very last place they’ll find love or acceptance (and I don’t mean acceptance of sin, but acceptance of them as a human being worthy of Christ’s sacrificial love expressed through us).

“Maybe our need to communicate how disgusting homosexuality is gets in the way of God’s desire to communicate to THEM how incredibly powerful and merciful and life-changing His love is, and maybe it gets in the way of His desire to communicate to us that in His holy sight all our sin is just as repulsive and ‘barf-worthy’ as theirs. ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ doesn’t mean much if we don’t do it.”
I don’t want to abuse God’s mercy or call sin ‘righteous.’ That’s not within my purview.

I haven’t torn out any passages in my Bible that claim homosexuality is a sin.

The difference is that I’m paying attention to the rest of the passages too.