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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

I’ve been around the internet for long enough, well before the days when “state-of-the-art” looked like this (flashing N, we hardly knew ye), so I’m not exactly surprised when I come across articles like Jennifer Wrist Knust’s latest opinion article, which dropped my jaw to levels previously reserved only for Dan Brown.  Says Knust about Biblical sexuality, “In Genesis, for example, it would seem that God’s original intention for humanity was androgyny, not sexual differentiation and heterosexuality.”  Where to begin?

While I thoroughly disagree with Knust’s methods, evidence and conclusions in myriad ways, I don’t want to just flippantly dismiss her.  The reason is because she attempts to thoughtfully engage with an issue (viz. homosexuality):  she actually employs (fallacious) methods, offers (shoddy) evidence, and draws (misguided) conclusions.  Discussion can thence proceed.

Not so with many of the “comments” posted after her article, and frankly just about any other comment on a widely read post that deals with the Bible, or Christianity.  I’ll paraphrase a few that typify the genre:

“The Bible is a bunch of bunk anyway, with not a shred of evidence to prove it.”

“Christianity: One small voice away from murdering your entire family.”

“When will Christians get over the fact that Jesus is a myth?  Get out of the dark ages.”

“Why do I care about what a book written 2,000 years ago on the other side of the world says about anything?”

These “comments” ought to irk and embarrass everyone, no matter their world view.  It seems that no world view is free of people who give their world view a bad name.  Christians certainly have their fair share.  Their contributions are noise at best, and the internet, for good or ill, is an amplifier with a very low signal to noise ratio.

It’s easy to recognize the internet as an amplifier of previously existing conditions. For example, there has been bullying in school since school existed.  The internet did not give rise to bullying, it has amplified it, indeed creating the whole new category of “cyber-bullying.”  There was pornography addiction in the days when the words “personal computer” would have been an oxymoron.  The internet didn’t create lust, it has amplified it.  So, it should not surprise me (though it still does) to see naked assertions with inflammatory intent following an article.  Incendiaries are no new phenomenon.

There is no desire for interaction or real discussion among those who comment.  Exchanges between two or more of these people are most often sets of monologues, with no appreciable purpose other than to deride others, and promote oneself; to be heard, regardless of whether there is anything worth listening to.

For some, it seems that their online personality, thanks in large part to the internet’s precious anonymity, is their id: that unrestricted, raw feeling that they might think, but never say to anyone face to face.  This just intensifies issues that are already controversial, and highly flammable.  The result is greater polarization on issues and less tolerance for opposing viewpoints.

As a Christian, it is disheartening for me to read much of the religious discourse on the internet, especially in the blog-scape.  I come away with a (sinful?) feeling of hopelessness: Where to begin?  How in the world could I hope to reach people with Christ if this is indicative of their posture towards Him?  Despite God’s Word, which reminds me how capable He is of reaching the hardest of hearts (e.g., Paul), I can also take solace in the fact that if I were to turn off the amplifier in between the brazen comment and the commenter, more often than not I’d find a person just as broken and needy as anyone else in the world, one whose company I would probably enjoy, and certainly one who needs redemption just as much as I do.

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