Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beliefnet, Banality and Evil

There's this guy who prowls the Beliefnet Christian Welcome and Faith and Life forums -- I'll call him Billy Bob -- who drives me absolutely crazy.

He is, I think, a Southern Baptist of the Jerry Falwell end of that theological spectrum, so it's pretty much a given that I will strenuously disagree with almost everything he has to say.

But antagonistic online religious blowhards are a dime a dozen. That's not what drives me crazy.

This guy, Billy Bob, has a disturbing tendency to find some lost soul posting online in a state of spiritual distress -- and then verbally bash the hapless individual over the head with his King James Bible and pretensions to his own righteousness.

The other day someone began a topic thread explainng that s/he'd been the victim of an armed robbery, and had been so shaken by this experience that s/he was starting to lose faith in a good God.

Along came Billy Bob. Instead of offering this person comfort and encouragement, he lit into the robbery victim for daring to doubt God; for having such paltry faith. He suggested that if this person's faith were so easily shaken, then s/he probably wasn't a Real Christian[tm] to begin with, like Billy Bob.

Well, needless to say, I weighed in with what I hoped was more helpful and theologically responsible advice to the individual who'd been robbed at gunpoint. But I didn't address Billy Bob directly, because I was sure I couldn't do that without violating the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct.

I don't want to get all hyperbolic-Martin-Luther here -- but if Satan himself responded to this hurting individual, I am convinced that he'd sound a great deal like Billy Bob. And I couldn't help but think of what Jesus had to say about people who cause the anawim, the "little ones," to lose faith.

Lord, save us from your followers. Again.


ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

Hmmm, in accord with today's sermon text, would that guy be one of the weeds or the wheat? And even if he was a weed, the Gardener wouldn't pull him out. Darn it.

Anonymous said...

And let all God's people... the real ones... not the shallow, plastic ones... say AMEN!

LutheranChik said...

If I can't weed him...can't I just prune him a little?...

toujoursdan said...

We certainly seem to run into some doozies on Beliefnet. Sometimes I wonder how they cope with life and what they do to those around them. I took a look at the thread and had to laugh when this "Billy Bob" made it all about him instead of the individual asking for help.

Mary Beth said...

Weighing in = pruning. :)

LutheranChik said...

I confess that, this morning, I "took a little off the top."

Dan -- yes; "Lord, I thank thee that I am not as other men are" seems to be this individual's motto.

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

Only the angels get to get rid of the weeds.

It does seem to be the case, in general, that "controlling people" have some personal issues of lack of self-esteem. And people who have a theology that says that they have to "do something" to be saved or "keep doing something" to remain saved seem to have some lack of confidence (rightly so!) in accomplishing this and some self-esteem issues as a result. People like this seem to make an issue of checking up on other people's faith and projecting their own insecurities. Some part of this theology seems to encourage being judgmental about whether the other people will get to heaven or are truly saved.

Have pity on people who don't realize that Jesus already accomplished our salvation 2000 years ago!

Beth said...

I've always said that the Church would be a better place, if only we could weed the sinners out. 'Course I immediately realize that would also mean that I'd have to leave. Still, I have a hard time not being judgmental when I see (or hear of) a Christian going on the attack when they hear that someone's struggling with their faith. Kudos to you for stepping in!

Crimson Rambler said...

"save us from your followers" -- oh yeah.
I remember the late lamented Ronnie Hawkins (OK I find my theology in odd places) protesting when someone accused him of not believing in God. It went something like this: "How can you say that? I do too believe in God. Ain't nobody believes in God more than me. It's his effing ground crew I can't believe."
And that about sums it up.

fausto said...

if Satan himself responded to this hurting individual, I am convinced that he'd sound a great deal like Billy Bob.

Actually, Satan would probably sound a lot nicer. Satan actually tries to win souls.