Tuesday, June 09, 2009

a kinder gentler internet

Chatting with my friend Gentry last night, something came to both us us regarding the internet, emergent and its guardians. It is something thing to think about as everyone talks about Emergent and dismisses those that have either left Emergent, are disappointed with Emergent or want to move on to something else...

just because someone is not part of your group anymore (or never were), does not mean they are not doing anything substantial, especially in their own little world. They may be making the world a better place, so don't assume they are not, just because they are not doing it for Emergent or whatever subgroup you belong to. I saw the Driscollites start down this road a few years ago, now some in Emergent have picked up on the meme (yes, I used that horrible word).

Just because they disagree with you on issues such as women in ministry, gay marriage, the atonement or the global warming and fair trade* does not make them unenlightened, bigoted and not emerging. There is no litmus test for what is emergent or emerging. If you have a litmus test, you are a fundamentalist of some stripe in my eyes (which may make me a fundamentalist).

People of good faith are on every side of every issue. People of very different positioning on every issue are caring for the sick, caring for the poor, clothing the naked, loving their enemies and sharing the Good News of the Kingdom of God and expressing it in churches and outside of churches. People that disagree on all issues, that consider themselves part of Emergent, the Emerging church, every denomination, Origin, Resurgence, the New Reformed crowd and post-church are caring for creation, acting neighborly and creating art. People that voted for Obama, McCain and refrained from voting are feeding the hungry and caring for orphans. People that disagree vehemently on issues like abortion, gay marriage and issues framed as equality issues by some can still love Jesus and want to affirm each other's worth.

But, each of these people can also act as a bully. Each person can make negative assumptions regarding the intentions of another, especially if they don't know that person. Each of these people can assume that there is something wrong with those they disagree with. Each of these people can assume they are superior to those that hold a less "correct" opinion on a vast array of subjects (such as I do regarding American Idol and John Mayer). Each of those people can snipe from behind an avatar and speak to people in an inhospitable manner, writing in a tone they would not use if face to face and calling it "heated discussion" or respectful dialog when it is nothing more than unbecoming for anyone that follows Jesus.

There is this little thing in every major religion that I try to teach my kids. You may have heard of it. I think it is called the Golden Rule or something like that. It tells us to treat people like we want to be treated. It may be handy for each of us as we blog, spend time on forums, facebook and twitter. Maybe we should think about how we want to be treated, what tone we want to hear, what words we find affirming and treat the person we are responding to in such a manner, especially if we don't know that person. Maybe those that consider themselves emerging Christians could create safe spaces, a kinder, gentler Internet, especially when talking about Jesus.

*ironically, I may agree with EV's unofficial stance on many of these issues. I just don't want there to be a stance on any of these issues, just some "ideas" and "thoughts" as Kevin Smith articulated in the film Dogma.

the other irony in this whole thing is that many people that have been left out by others in the past are doing the same thing to others.

I am almost done with this stuff, so I can get back to what is expected from me.. sarcasm.