All righty then!
Anyone who has bothered to read the drivel I clog the web with knows I can argue against most things from about twenty different view points. For the most part the only argument I have for anything is that I believe people need to focus on applying their rules to themselves instead of applying their rules to others.
I have gay friends and some of them are overjoyed about the death of Fred Phelps. They are every bit as judgmental of him as he was of them. I could argue against Fred Phelps or homosexuality, but, in both cases I think people have a right to free speech and to choose their own life styles.
Last week the church sent out an e-mail about changing the e-mail address, again. About ten years ago the church asked me to put together a web site, so I did. About a year and a half later the site was hijacked by someone else in the church and I was locked out. No one even discussed changing web masters. The guy who took it over put up a web site that linked to an embedded Google map. Some of the more savvy out there are probably grinning right now about the band width issues related to embedding on web pages. Occasionally the site would go down because the church exceeded band width.
Look, when I put up the site I paid for everything out of my pocket and I didn't bother with paying for high band width since the church is small and techno-deficient anyway. Besides, I built the site to be fast, small web pages, not much scripting. The guy who took it over, with a brand new degree in computer science, didn't understand band width.
Fast forward a year or two and the site goes down. Oops, someone forgot to renew the domain. Oh, someone else snatched up the domain and held it for ransom. Total disaster, most people at church didn't notice. (Yes, I transfered registration. I'm not that spiteful)
Who ya gonna call when stuff goes to crap? You guessed it. No, I am not going to fix the site. Ask Joe. (a Freshman college kid with a much better understanding of networking and graphics design than our aforementioned CS grad). Joe put together a nice site, but, the people at church didn't enable e-mail for the domain. In fact, the CS grad and his hooligans disabled the e-mail and forwarders I had set up.
Yeah, some of you are shaking your heads. Brand and domain recognition is marketing 101 in this information age. Now you understand why membership is dwindling, essentially it is dying off. Love my church, love the people, they just don't get it. All of us are like that sometimes, some of us try to correct that using the gift of literacy and the humongo library we call the Internet. Not everyone believes in knowledge though, some people believe they already have all they need.
"All I need is this chair....and what I already know"
So I send out a e-mail, some called a flame and some called a rant, that I considered simple criticism. We need a permanent e-mail address based on the domain (marketing, brand recognition), just set up forwarders and we don't have to keep changing it.
Yeah, the uberknowledgable (sic) powers that maintain ignorance at our institution of judgmental authoritarianism decided on a gmail address in response to my criticism, thereby donating brand recognition of our organization to Google.
When I hit Sunday School one of my classmates suggested I had been ranting. I disagreed and explained it was criticism. Nothing heated, just a quick exchange.
The sermon had been on service. How Christians are supposed to be servants. A lot of Christians believe they have been endowed by the creator with a judgmental authortarianism that gives them the power to rebuke everyone for the speck in the eye of the sinner without needing to address the wooden box over their own heads, since Christ forgave them.
Actually, a lot of people (as in the gay Fred Phelps bashers mentioned earlier) do the same stuff without the benefit of Christian salvation. I see it as, pretty much, a human condition.
Our teacher mentioned how many had been serving in the church for years and never had any recognition. I interjected my 2 cents and explained that I appreciated the way she had been teaching the class for the many years I had been attending. I believed she served by helping people grow in Christ as opposed to being a judgmental authoritarian demanding adherence to a specific doctrine. This, I believe, is a primary difference between the pseudo-christian and the true Christian.
This led to a discussion about correction and once again I donated my 2 cents. Proverbs tells us, rebuke a wise man and he will love you, rebuke a fool and he will hate you. This invited a discussion where some people are actually wrong in their rebuke. Imagine that, Christians being wrong when they rebuke someone.
I explained, what God had explained to me, that when someone who rebukes us and is wrong, we can accept the rebuke as wrong and still love the person by accepting the rebuke as a genuine attempt to help us become better people. I used the guy who said my e-mail was a rant as an example, I think he is wrong, but, I love him because he has genuinely tried to help me become a better person.
This is a different way of looking at schtuff, but, it is one I have been using for many, many years.
Three lessons here for anyone looking for a moral to the story.
1: Sure, you can argue against someone's lifestyle from 20 different perspectives and there is nothing wrong with that. What we should be doing is applying our own rules to our lives. We can share those rules, but, we should not be demanding others adhere to our rules. Not even our rules about being accepting and tolerant. Insisting people be tolerant is showing intolerance.
2: Try to serve by helping people learn rather than being a judgmental authoritarian forcing people to accept a specific doctrine. (yeah, this sounds similar to the first. The first is "apply your rules to yourself" the second is "help others, don't try to force them")
3: When people criticize us, right or wrong, consider the critique. If right we have learned and become better. If wrong we have learned that the critic cares about us and is trying to help us become a better person.
Is that last one always true? Is a critic always loving and trying to help us become a better person? No, some are assholes trying to make us feel bad (a good example is the player I dated recently). Does believing that some people are scum improve our lives? I don't think so, I think believing the best about people and rejoicing in love is better than accepting or believing that the vast majority are total and complete scumbags.
Sure, being open, trusting, giving people the opportunity to hurt us through deliberate and demented acts can be difficult. People can hurt us, especially when we believe they care. Some people enjoy going out of their way to lead us down a path just to jerk that path out from under us. We can protect ourselves by living in a plastic bubble (or a cage, a prison, of our own construction).
I would rather be open to what life has to offer and rejoice in love so I choose to believe my critics are sharing love.