Last Wednesday night at church the subject of Rachel Held Evans’ new book came up. Of the 15 or so present only two of us were familiar if not with the book itself certainly with the brouhaha surrounding it, those two being me and my pastor. In fact, no one else there even knew who RHE is, which to some may be a somewhat surprising truth given the multitude of blog posts and twitter updates dedicated to either affection or disdain for her and her book, depending of course on one’s perspective. Love her or hate her, RHE is a lightning rod, no two ways about it.
I would suspect that most of my readers here at the blog are also unaware both of the aforementioned book as well as of the kind of controversies and quarrels that seem to mark much of social media. You may not realize this, but bloggers as a whole can be a pretty opinionated bunch, which, depending on the blogger you’re referring to, could be the understatement of the year. I learned the hard way how sharply such opinions can be expressed. I was a total newbie, a novice of the blog world, and as such completely ignorant of the types of hot button issues that incite a blogger throw down. It was an innocent question I posted, a request for clarification, that resulted in a maelstrom of conflict and controversy in the comment thread. I quickly retreated, waiting several months before I even dared to return to visit that particular site. I have yet to post another comment there.
I’ve often thought about that experience, and other internet-borne explosions of criticism and controversy and though I remain perplexed as to why fellow believers choose to treat each other with such open disdain, whatever the subject at hand, I find it comforting that there are those out there like my fellow churchgoers, believers, lovers of the Lord Jesus, who have no idea what it is we’re all worked up about. In other words, this internet world, important though it may be, is only a small part of the picture.
How myopic our perspective can become! We spend our days compulsively checking twitter and Facebook on our smart phones, drafting witty replies and pithy posts. We formulate arguments, we draw lines in the sand, we elevate sarcasm and derision to an art form, all in the name of the defense of truth. And woe to the blogger who stumbles into one such provocation, however innocently or inadvertently.
Hear me: I am not saying we are not to engage in any sort of debate or dispute, on the internet or otherwise. It is right and good to engage each other in the pursuit of truth. Sometimes we will disagree, of course we will. I am speaking instead to our tendency to forget that some people, a lot of people, most of the people we are in contact with on a day-to-day basis, haven’t the foggiest what we’re talking about. This corner of the internet is a small one and it is even smaller in comparison to the real, non-virtual world
In my more cynical moments I often wonder what might happen if those among us who spend their days fighting the presumed internet wars, moving from one controversy to another, taking their snark and shrill outrage from website to website, what if for each battle, each comment, each blog post, each argument, they unplugged the computer, walked out the door and shared the gospel with someone, someone in flesh and blood, in face to face conversation? Are our perspectives so skewed we can only see our computer screen and not the world beyond? I am asking myself this question. Which is more pressing on my mind and affection: the latest internet drama or my unsaved neighbor?
I am thankful for blogging and for the encouragement and friendship I find here among godly, like-minded women. Lord willing, I will be here engaging and blogging and thinking and reading for many more years. However, I want also to engage the world beyond my laptop by living and sharing the gospel, putting feet to my theology, loving others as Christ has loved me. Yes and amen.