In my blog travels I have come across two very different sites. One is by a woman in Alaska who wrote a very good piece on dealing with nasty comments by those who leave remarks on your blog. It really was very good advice on dealing with nasty people in any area of life, whether hiding behind anonymity on the internet or up-front, in-your-face people in real life. She was so thorough she even included a flow-chart!
The other is at an “Internet Newspaper” site which is quite opinionated, as the Internet often frees us to be. In this article/blog a man writes how anyone who believes in the God of the three monotheistic religions is wrong. He goes on to post a quite articulate, however, inaccurate accounting of Judaism, Christianity and Islam which is obviously only focusing on partial information as he believes all three are quite insane, war-mongering and violent.
Now, as you may imagine, the latter’s blog really disturbed me. It did not really make me angry, although I know people who would have immediately become defensive about such vitriol* splashed out everywhere for the world to see. I just really felt sorry for him because he misses the entire point of faith, focusing so much on flawed humanity.
Now, the first one really helped me to deal with the second as you could imagine. The fact of the matter is that there are people out there who will not agree with us, and even attack our deepest held faiths and most sacred beliefs. We have a few options on how to handle these things, we could return jab for jab the hate-filled comments, OR we could follow the leadings of Jesus…turn the other cheek, love our enemies, and pray for those who would persecute us.
Too often we (in the name of God, Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham, etc. ___________ fill in your own good and righteous cause here) respond exactly the opposite that our faith dictates we should. We rise to the goading of those who want to see us stumble and fall just so they could say, “see that is exactly my point.” We even make it easy for them to write articulate articles on how crazy and violent religious people are all the while they have the ability in their reason to sit back all cool, calm and collected like without having their beliefs and faith stepped on.
Speaking from a Christian standpoint (because I cannot speak from a Jewish or Muslim one) we are to pray for these people. (No, not that God will smite them.) St. Francis of Assissi tells us to “preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” We are to live our faith, not bitterly fling venom back at those who would fling venom at us, that isn’t want Jesus would want us to do, nor is it what Jesus did.
It saddens me that over the centuries we have so created God in our own image that we truly believe God hates everyone we do.** When the fact of the matter is God tells us to love everyone God does. Whew…that will be a lot of people, even the man who thinks we are all wrong.
* vitriol (vĭt'rē-ōl', -əl) definition #2 in the American Heritage Dictionary, “Bitterly abusive feeling or expression.” OR also definition #2 by WordNet, “abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will.”
** Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, referencing her priest friend Tom.