Monday, March 14, 2011

Shit That's Really Starting to Get on My Nerves, Part V: Heavy-Handed, Guilt-Inducing Messages About What I Should Believe and Do

You know what kind of message I'm talking about; you got them all the time as soon as well-meaning friends and family members discovered the internet in the form of chain e-mails: Forward this petition if you have a soul, the text called from underneath the canopy of strangers' e-mail addresses. Forward this if you care about abused women, abused children, abused animals, the poor, the destitute, conspiracies, the oppressed minorities of third-world countries. Ignore this if you are callous about starvation and genital mutilation! Go ahead. I dare you.

The aim, of course, is to establish the sender's moral superiority over you in order to guilt you into making the statement and/or taking the action called for in the message. And while the aforementioned demands typically refer to political issues and ask for signatures on ineffective petitions, another loathsome breed of guilt-baiting has sprung in the form of religious fervor. The message is basically this: "I believe in Jesus, and I'm not ashamed to say it" [read: I'm self-righteously unafraid to declare my devotion]. I occasionally see this on my Facebook news feed, simply rolling my eyes and continuing to the next item. Here's one I came across last week, though, on the profile of someone I work with:

Can anyone tell me why it is so hard for people to pray, but easy to swear? Why it is so hard to re-post a [C]hristian status, but easy to post gossip? Why can we worship a celebrity, but not Jesus? Gonna ignore this? Most of you won't re-post this. The Lord said, 'If you deny me in front of your friends, I will deny you in front of my Father.' I posted. Will you?

In spite of my lack of religion, I pride myself on being tolerant of people's convictions and their desire to publicly express them, but this is completely ridiculous. And while I enjoy the company of the person who posted this and have even spent time with her outside of work, this is the first I've heard of her supposed religious zeal. She swears, gossips, and reads celebrity news, and therefore is clearly not above these things. Condemning an action does not negate it.

That said, the person I really take issue with is whoever wrote this self-righteous drivel, and I am going to respond to it point by point.

On why it is "so hard for people to pray, but easy to swear": Because we have become an increasingly secular society. While there are plenty of people who still say grace before their meals and have crucifixes on their walls and otherwise have their religion woven tightly into their everyday existence, this is no longer the case as much as it once was (and still is in some cultures). Besides, swearing and praying are not mutually exclusive; plenty of people do both.

On why it is "so hard to re-post a Christian status, but easy to post gossip": It is not a matter of being 'hard' or 'easy.' Religion is a very personal thing for many people. The number of times you post about how much you love your deity on a social networking site is not directly proportional with how genuinely committed you are to your faith. Conversely, gossip is shallow, and there is very little at stake for the person spreading it (though it is, of course, often harmful and damaging to the object of it).

On why we "worship a celebrity, but not Jesus": To compare Jesus's relative cultural importance to that of today's A-listers--most of whom will be all but forgotten in a few generations--is the most ludicrous part of this tirade against godlessness. No, Jesus does not make too many appearances on the cover of US Weekly, but he is still the star of the second half of Western civilization's biggest bestseller and continues to be one of history's most influential figures thousands of years after his time. Whoever wrote this either doesn't understand the difference or gives our superficial culture way too much credit.

On whether or not I'm "gonna ignore this": I'm not ignoring it. I'm pointing out what's wrong with it.

On the assertion that "most...won't re-post this": Even if I considered myself a Christian, I would not allow myself to be intimidated into re-posting something by someone who is employing such immature shaming tactics, and the same goes for any "post this or you're an asshole" messages.

On what "the Lord said": By refusing to re-post, one is not "denying" Jesus so much as rejecting the method of delivery of such a message.

On whether or not I will post: I suppose it is self-evident by now that I will not be re-posting.

If I have something to say about religious, social, or political issues, I will be writing my own status.

5 comments:

  1. Every time I get one of those "forward this email or god won't answer your prayers" emails, I always wonder did god ignore everyone's prayers that came before email was invented? lol

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  2. I make a point of not re-posting any of those "chain status" on FB. I'm a Christian, yet I wouldn't re-post...what's the point?

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  3. "I'm not ignoring it. I'm pointing out what's wrong with it."

    hahaha. Shit like this really gets on my nerves, too.

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  4. These people can sure get annoying. Good for them, I guesS?

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