I love Easter. It’s my favorite religious holiday: solemnity, rejoicing and all. And yet… I also dread its arrival. I don’t dread it to the point that I sweat blood and beg for the Father to take this cup away from me, but I am unhappy the two weeks leading up to Easter, as much as I enjoy Holy Week. Why? Ultimately, the reason is people online.
We all know the Internet exposes the moldiest, most festering corners of humanity and human nature. Every day there’s another story, making that fact of life all too apparent. In that context, my complaint is trivial, but that does not lessen the amount of distress it causes. Right before Easter, the Internet explodes.
People who tend to be very overtly Christian go all out with their hellfire, brimstone, “type ‘Amen’ if you don’t want Satan to win” and all that ranges from obnoxious, to ridiculous, to reprehensible. Everyone has seen the memes on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media forums.
And everyone has seen the other side—that of the overtly anti-religion. Out of the woodwork come of the accusations of peddling torture-porn, traumatizing children, along with the usual taunts and demands for proof. The obnoxious, the ridiculous, the reprehensible… again!
If nothing else, it reminds one how easily a crowd can go from cheering to howling for blood—an admittedly seasonal reminder. And it conjures up the oft-appropriated words of the late Rodney King; “Can’t we all just get along?”
To that, the answer seems, at least superficially, to be no.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. At Easter, or at any other time. I offer no great words of wisdom for everyone to throw down the knives and let peace begin (although I have opinions). I offer no defense of the people who call themselves “Christian” and cause very real harm to innocent people because they think they are right (again, seasonal… the Pharisees and Scribes thought they were right. Pilate just wanted to go back to bed), and everyone probably knows who I’m talking about. Their exploits are plastered all over that self-same Internet.
Still, it is worth remembering that there are plenty of people not causing harm with their observance of the most important holiday in the calendar, and that the observance of Easter is nowhere near as obnoxious as Christmas tends to get. And even though I’ve probably already fallen into the #notall pit already, it’s important for bleeding everyone to step back, determine whether there is a clear and present danger, and when there’s not, to shut up and let live (especially when you’re at the top of the social food chain). For Christians, it means letting practitioners of other religions or people with no religion go about their business without trying to convert them, or announcing their damnation. No matter what you think… it’s not helping, and yes, just up and telling someone that they’re going to burn in hell is in fact aggressive/bullying/uncalled-for and just generally not copasheshy.
The evangelism problem isn’t as big outside of Christianity, but the sentiment goes for the other groups, including the not and/or anti-religious.
Now I change focus to directly address my extended family by religion (aka fellow Christians). Today is the second day of Lent. There’s over a month now until the Resurrection. Let us Christians especially make it our priority not to be obnoxious, ridiculous, and certainly not reprehensible this and all seasons. We should and often do know better than that.
The Internet will thank you (in secret), and all our hearts will be softened by the lack of confrontation and annoyance. Thus we can appreciate the miracle better when the time comes. Isn’t that better than another electronic chain letter?