Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The land of Insta-condemnation

I don’t believe in message boards. I think they are places where the lowest forms of life exist to not only bring down whatever the topic is but bring down anyone else who may be foolish enough to comment about said topic.

Having said that, I sometimes will make the haphazard decision to read what is in front of me, specifically if I’m looking at a Facebook post or an Instagram photo. The comments are right there on the screen and sometimes I’ll glance at them. There’s no harm in the glance, but when you start scrolling through…

A friend retweeted an Instagram photo of a very well known Christian music singer’s engagement photo. They’re on a beach, they’re elated, it’s wonderful. I was looking through some other photos on the singer’s page and there was one of Justin Timberlake mid-concert. Fun, I wish I could go see his show too. Then I made the mistake. I looked to the right and at the comments.

A debate had ensued in the comments left on the photo. A group of mostly women began an argument about the “spiritual repercussions” of the singer’s actions in the photo. Please bear in mind that her action was to go see Justin Timberlake sing and dance about a suit and a tie.

One woman said “I don't judge her! However - it's such a thin line to cross just because she's becoming more and more known around the world, so it requires being a little more careful with these things. Secular music is not bad, but someone with her shoes, this wasn't such a bright idea to post...especially to new believers who are coming to Christ. That's the only thing I see in this...”


Then another woman agreed with her! “I totally agree with you! Such a bad move. Being a worship leader, she should set an example to those new believers. Such a shame.”

I fail to see the shame in going to a Justin Timberlake concert. I have a friend who saw him this weekend actually and loved the show. I also fail to see where it’s any of these people’s business to comment on the decisions this singer is making.

Sure, I know that we post things for people to see and comments come with that. Everyone has something to say and these women are allowed to be as loudly ignorant as they want to be. What concerns me is that their loud intolerance for decisions made by others is being thrust out into the world and people like me are stumbling on it, even if we don’t follow the singer on Instagram.

At what point will Christians understand that they have to function in a real world, where not everyone believes exactly what they believe, makes the same decisions they make or acts like they do? This insta-condemnation that is so readily accessible in much of Christian culture is the heavy hand that swats away people who don’t believe as they do. How do you expect someone to listen to your message with an open ear if you continue to slap them away at even the slightest hint of disagreement?

An old friend of mine posted an article from a VERY conservative site about the pastor of Hillsong church in New York City and about his approach to what he does. He then went on a rant about how wrong this man’s approach and doctrine is and that this is the problem with Christianity today. Now, I’ve been to said church and I know that things there don’t happen as they would in a small church on the buckle of the Bible Belt, but in no way did I feel like the teaching became a watered-down free-for-all.  I stated my opinion in the comments section, (there I go again, that damn comments section) and was ultimately told I still wasn’t correct in my thinking.

Christianity today doesn’t look like it did a decade ago. Why? The world doesn’t look the same as it did a decade ago. Just as pastors have to take the words written thousands of years ago and make them applicable to today’s living, we have to continue to do that over the course of our lives. The context when we were children isn’t the context we exist in as adults. There are so many people from where I’m from (Bible Belt) who are so afraid of the changes within churches like Hillsong who are welcoming to all people, approachable in their context and God isn’t portrayed as an angry being ready to strip us of our salvation at any given moment. Do crazy-overzealous-Christians go to Hillsong? Yes. Are there gay people at Hillsong? Yes. Do they sing in the choir? Yes. Are they open about their lifestyle? Yes. Does Justin Beiber attend when he’s in town? Yes. Is he the most obnoxious person in music? Yes. But all are welcome.

I personally don’t believe Jesus would be thrilled with the way Christians treat others, especially the way they treat their own. I think He’d be pretty saddened by it. I also don’t think He’d be all that pissed that this singer went to a Justin Timberlake concert. He would probably want to hear N’Sync songs just like the rest of us.  

My favorite comment though was by someone who had a least a modicum of sense. “You all obviously recognize him so you’ve listened to his music too. So you all need to sit down.” 

The power of a reboot

Nothing went right this morning. From the moment my feet hit the floor, it has been a sitcom-style-series of unfortunate events.
It took longer than expected to get ready because I couldn't find my pants because they were wadded up in the corner of my apartment for some reason.
Then I just missed the train but another was right behind it. A momentary break of luck. Too bad that two stops after boarding the train, it went out of service and hundreds of irritated New Yorkers got to wait on the platform for another train to show up. Which it did, minus the air conditioning the first train had.
The train took its sweet time getting downtown, all the while I'm beginning to sweat, which isn't a cute look when you're en route to the office.
I missed another connecting train before I finally got to where I was going, only to have little rain droplets begin to ping off my head.
This calls for an iced coffee. That fixes all things right? Except, I wanted some coffee with my sugar and creamer and apparently they missed that part of the order. So I have my coffee-laced sugar water and I finally made it to the office.

Time to reboot.

It's amazing really. No matter how strange our day has been, we have the ability to reboot just like we would a computer that's acting up. Some people haven't figured this out yet and if they "get up on the wrong side of the bed" in the morning, their entire day is somehow ruined. But there's such value in being able to put a mental stop to the bad moments to make way for the good.

So as I sat down at my desk, I rebooted along with my computer. There's no use hanging on to what happened this morning and letting it affect the rest of my day. That'd be a wasted day. Waste not, want not. And don't worry, I've got my coffee-laced sugar water to keep me alert.