The landscape of Christian belief continues to become increasingly fractured. Lines aren’t just being drawn as much as bulldozed. Camps are being set up, artillery amassed, and snipers live on high alert.
No, I’m not talking about the doomsday-preppers, but the splintering groups of liberals, progressives, conservatives, ultra-conservatives, reformed, non-reformed, cool kids, home schooled kids, public school kids, those who take one perspective on homosexuality, those who take another, and still those who take a completely different stance all together, those who are for gun control, those who are against, those who believe prayer should be in the schools, those who believe we’re better off without it, those who pray nine hours a day, those who are lucky to squeeze in nine seconds, those who ___fill-in-the-blank___ and those who don’t—who claim to be followers of Jesus, lovers of God and find themselves expressing their views online.
The conversations among these groups about a myriad of topics have become increasingly heated, uncivil, unkind. Post a blog or perspective or insight that someone doesn’t agree with and the internet snipers come out to play—and they’re not just packing handguns, but far more powerful artillery.
The alliances often circle around who is right, really right, leaving everyone else wrong, wrong, wrong. [Tweet this]
Rather than engage in helpful, healthy debate or conversation, it only takes 2-3 online comments until mean-spirited accusations come out such as “Well, you must have never read your Bible” or “You probably don’t even go to church,” or “That’s the kind of attitude that caused the Holocaust.”
Another tactic is to shut down the conversation (or attempt to) by throwing out the God Card: that ultimate claim that attempts to trumps all perspectives—such as, “Well, we shouldn’t spend that much on a church building when thousands of people die each day from curable diseases,” or quoting a single Scripture (usually pried out of context) and declaring, “The Bible says it, and the Bible is always right, so I’m always right and you’re always wrong and I’m never changing.”
The splintering taking place in Christianity combined with these unhelpful, uncivil responses just helps polarize people even more.
Meghan Daum, in her brilliant article on Haterade observes:
“COMMENTING CULTURE INFECTS THE INTERNET, INVITING US NOT TO ‘JOIN THE CONVERSATION’ SO MUCH AS TO JOIN A FIGHT–OR AT LEAST GAWK FROM THE SIDELINES.”
Yet despite these challenges, I still believe in creating a place where people can dialogue, exchange ideas and helpful suggestions, and learn from each other. [Tweet this]
I believe in creating a space where we can learn to use the Internet and interact well. [Tweet this]
That means we’ll all have moments when we take the bait and say things we shouldn’t, but if we’re intentional about responding thoughtfully rather than just reacting, hopefully we’ll begin to look a little more Christ-like online.
So if we’re going to wage any war online, let’s wage a war on haterade. And may it begin with us. Becoming more thoughtful, prayerful, compassionate, as we interact, post and learn to play well with people whose perspective is (gasp!) different than ours.
That’s why MargaretFeinberg.com is a HATERADE-FREE zone. You are welcome to have opinions, and strong ones are welcome, but even the most lively discussions can take place without being mean-spirited, personal attacks, or throwing down the God Card or Hitler comparison.
I recently posted an article, In the Wake of Rob Bell Coming Out for Marriage Equality, I Found Wisdom and Encouragement in the Story of Dan Cathy. I was so proud of those who engaged in the conversation on the site. For the most part, people were kind, gracious, thoughtful, engaging—even when they didn’t agree with one another.
Reading the comments, I felt hope...maybe it is possible to create a haterade-free zone.
Your comments are always welcome here. Just check your hate at the door.