A year or so ago, I posted something about the weird habit people have of “calling you out in love” – and how anti-phenomenological the whole thing is.
Well, no one ever calls me out on the internet anymore, I guess because they figure I’m a lost cause and bound for hell no matter what. At first I thought it was that the online community was developing a sense of decorum, but that was wishful thinking. Apparently it’s still happening, just not to me.
Of course, cyberbullying is a problem that extends far beyond religious groups, but it’s particularly troubling in the context of (supposedly) Christian conversation, because it seems a trifle oxymoronic to give oneself carte blanche to be unChristlike for the sake of Christ. I understand impulses to meanness, wrath, mockery, sarcasm, and general shittiness, because I succumb to them all the time. But meanness for Jesus? Really?
Christ walked among us, the divine incarnate, all-good and all-knowing, and tolerated us in our stupidity. Considering the astonishing rarity with which he lashed out ever, at anyone, I would think that we who claim to follow him would hesitate before justifying our snark by saying it’s “for Jesus” – or “for the Church” or “for the truth” or (best of all) “to save your soul.” Because, honestly, we’re not winning any hearts that way. If you want to be nasty, have at it – just don’t try to put the blame on God.
Like I said, no one bothers me much these days, but in case you HAVE been the fortunate target of the online inquisition and their metaphorical torture implements (for the good of your soul, heathen!) – here is a form letter you can use for response. Fill in the blanks according to your situation in life. You may fill in with as many answers as are relevant.
Thank you for your repeated attempts to save me from the hellfire of ______________ (modernism / fraternizing with homosexuals / feminism / sharing articles from Huffington Post / worrying about the environment / swearing / looking too hot in my profile picture / not thinking capitalism is the bee’s knees / liking Pope Francis / etc). I appreciate your sincerity but must in honesty remind you that, according to the theology you and I both share, you cannot save me. Only Jesus can. Considering that you have failed to represent with accuracy this hugely important piece of dogma, you are not entitled to be an online inquisitor.
Furthermore, you have indicated yet another heretical bent, precisely in the nature of your concerns. Since we have been acquainted, I have had occasion to post a number of details about my life, including: _________________ (my child’s illness / the loss of my job / financial worries / flooding basements / gun violence / an auto accident / toenail fungus / the bubonic plague / etc). While you have never yet commented on any of these difficulties, or offered to assist me or my family in any way, you repeatedly call me out for the ideological offense(s) noted above. This leads me to believe that you do not recognize the intrinsic and objective goodness of the material world that God created, and subscribe to some pernicious neo-Platonism, perhaps even of a Manichean or Albigensian bent, believing only the soul to be truly important. For this reason, also, I regret to inform you that you are not qualified to fill the role of online inquisitor.
In case you happen to be sincere when you state that you are genuinely concerned for my soul, thank you. However, before you begin the arduous task of fixing me, I suggest that you embark on a rigorous journey of study with a variety of fully qualified theologians and catechists, as well as sign up for a few classes on logic, rhetoric, and ethics. And maybe get thee to a psychiatrist while you’re at it. Thinking you’re Jesus not only is bad theology; it’s not healthy.
I’m not actually telling you this because of my deep Christlike love for you. I’m telling you this because you’re annoying and I’m not virtuous enough to be completely charitable about it. But God loves you, you asshat, all the same.
Pax et bonum,