In this case, read certain blogs or visit certain types of websites and forums. They aren’t good for me. They don’t benefit me in anyway.
I noticed in my paper journaling a few months ago I was expressing dissatisfaction about a certain Christian blog I was reading and how I was treated for posting a Catholic perspective. Knowing the WWW and the way most blogs/forums work, this was concerning but not overly so.
Blogs and whatnot go through cycles were things can get nasty for awhile but then people take notice of their behavior and apologize for the nasty and get back on track. They get away from the tearing down and go back to the building up. They even catch themselves when they slip and they are willing to take fraternal correction when somebody points out where/when they might be straying. They even take breaks so that they don’t lapse back into that bad behavior.
Unfortunately, some of the Christian blogs I had been reading have gone almost completely into tearing down fellow Christians instead of building up. Name calling, questioning someone’s sincerity in being an actual “Christian,” damning people to hell, wishing pain and suffering on people because they didn’t support a particular bloggers view, etc. Oh, there is a lot more bad than good. But looking at this and what I was writing in my paper journal I came to the conclusion that these blogs were no longer of benefit to me. I was becoming more angry and upset over people’s need to tear down and justifying their tearing down as “Christian.”
It became all about hurting and very little helping. If you confirmed the bias of the bloggers, you were considered good Christians and saved and allowed to keep posting, especially if you put down whom the bloggers were putting down. If you questioned, even a little, you were bullied and harassed and called names and had pain and suffering wished upon you and then eventually banned, all because of a minor fact checking.
The bloggers themselves may argue that they allowed discussion and disagreement but it is a lie. I’ve seen people who provided proof as to why they were questioning and still get banned with the bloggers claiming harassment and other things going on behind scenes. Things that can’t be proved, of course, but bloggers never lie, right?
Then there is what I call the sob story effect. It’s when somebody tells a story of hardship, harassment, bullying, even shunning all done by The Church® (which has nothing to do with the Catholic Church, just to clarify, though She might be brought in as a comparison and we have to mention those pedophile priests (gag)). These storytellers all claim to be abused, how they have had their faith in Jesus Christ shaken so bad they no longer believe or go to church, and are telling their story to stop others from becoming victims.
First, I want to say that their are true cases where individuals have been hurt and abused by their churches. I grieve for these victims. Their stories are true, they are painfully real, and they seek change and healing, for themselves and the church they were/are a part of. These stories I do not doubt or question.
However, there are stories that are patently false or are so full of lies or are only true in the very beginning but then spiral out into a great fish tale. These are the ones where the storyteller plays the victim, is out to hurt the church or people in church they were in, or just wants to be in the spotlight (the old wanting attention schtick), or hates religion and is out to attack or those that just want to blame others for their failures. I have a major problem with these people. They are only in it to advance themselves and/or their agenda. They hurt and make those that are telling true stories look bad. Readers don’t always get all the facts so they can’t judge the truth of the story. Liars especially rely on this. And they rely on the emotional reaction they get.
Playing the victim card is especially notorious for playing the emotions. They tell a sob story that must be true because it plays on the heart strings. They may be a few truths or facts but the rest of the story is complete fiction made up to elicit an emotion. On the one blog I was reading, it seemed more and more stories were posted mainly because they were emotional rather than true. I would read stories and something would be off or not quite believable. I could tell the bloggers themselves hadn’t checked the story at all. Hence, the sob story effect.
If it seemed like a good story, it was automatically judged true. Facts were missing. Elements were not checked. Things just seemed off. But that didn’t matter to the bloggers. They posted it as fact and if anybody questioned, it was automatic moderation and then banning. Mostly it was straight to banned.
Even though I don’t trust most news sources, most reporters check their sources and factors because even one little lie gets you blackballed. They don’t do it. They check and recheck. They verify and if things don’t make sense they keep digging and doing research. They don’t accept at face value what they are told.
So I am no longer reading certain websites, blogs, etc. and I won’t mention specific blogs here because I have seen supporters of those blogs go after people who don’t wholeheartedly agree with the bloggers with severe vitriol. I don’t need my blog attacked. I don’t mind charitable disagreement but I don’t want name calling and other deplorable behaviors either. These people prefer to tear down instead of engaging in debate.
Tearing down the Body of Christ hurts everyone. I refuse to take part in it. While the blogs I refer to are Protestant, I have seen this among Catholics as well. I may disagree with Protestant theology but I don’t agree or permit tearing.down fellow believers in Jesus. I believe most Protestants are doing the best they can with the churches they have all in an effort to follow Jesus. I won’t badmouth them. That’s not loving my neighbor.
I don’t have a problem in pointing out errors or problems in teaching or beliefs or practices. It can be done in a charitable manner that doesn’t condemn others or tear them down. It also helps if solutions are provided and those who point out problems are willing to support and help in implementing the changes and solutions. I’ve seen too many people willing to point out failures but stop from suggesting solutions because they argue that it doesn’t involve them. If you’re willing to point out then you have to step up and truly support the changes, not just keep pointing out failures.
Or as the T-shirt says: If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.