Monday, June 09, 2008

Christians on the web

I don't know about other folks but my relationship with Christians on the web has been a weird mix. I either become really good friends with them or I become the object of their gossip. Truth to tell, it's only the really odd Christians who like me -- the non-cookie-cutter types. I am always finding out -- often before I have said anything too snippy or outrageous-- that some Christians were gossiping about me.

So, then, what exactly is my problem? Why do so many "normal" Christians -- especially normal white Christians-- consider me their enemies?

Okay, the group that I first had the problems with was a group that immediately set out to dislike me because I said that many of my gay female friends were raped as children...by their brothers or uncles or by people in the church. Well, I got a big slap-down saying I was being pro-gay. Whatever. Then the next thing I said was that I didn't like the Iraqi war and that Bush was being creepy to start the war. Well, that got me another slap-down. Then I was waay frank about my critiques of their stories. Not good because they could not take criticism and were so in a rush to be published that they wanted to believe their badly-written stories were ready for primetime -- they were aiming to be published as quickly as possible. They said I was a harsh critiquer. Then one woman was talking about good hard-working people who don't take welfare. She pretty much assumed that black people were on welfare...and that they were welfare queens who didn't like hard work like the "typical American." I -- because I could not keep my mouth shut-- said that I didn't like the racist euphemism "hard-working" because it implied "white." I also didn't like the assumption that blacks were the only ones on welfare because poor whites are the largest group on welfare and there is also corporate welfare...like some of the corporations certain politicians were involved with. I further declared that my son was sick and I was sick and we were never on welfare even though we both coule have taken it. And what does the group do? They start sending mean notes about me to each other offlist. How do I know this? One of them accidentally sent her comment about "Carole's bad behavior" to the list.

That's what I especially dislike about Christians on the internet...the herd mind. (Heck, maybe Christians in real life are as bad.) When my book Wind Follower was being toured by one group, the head of that group wrote me an email saying, "Many of our readers have had problems with this book because of the sex and the violence and the difficulty of the writing because they feel you're such a bad writer." First, I told him he should not have told me that folks were gossiping about me. Sh*t, who wants to hear about that? I would've liked to be in total ignorant bliss. I didn't say, "What the heck are you guys talking about? You're either non-published or self-published and you are judging a book edited by a super professional at a traditional publishing house?" But although I didn't say that I couldn't help but to become snippy. It's hard not to have snippy dynamics when one hears people are talking behind one's back.

So now this morning I realized that yet another of these Christian groups to which I belong has removed me from its list. (I think I got removed from this last list because a woman was going on about how she wasn't going to get married. I simply said to her --and the list-- that it was her choice but she should remember that A) Paul said in only one letter that people should not get married. In another letter he said that women under sixty should get married. And in Proverbs and Genesis, we are told to marry. Then I said B) that if she decided not to marry, she should take care of her health. Sickly non-married older relatives end up being a burden to nieces and nephews and grand-nieces who have their own parents to take care of and don't really want to go figuring out medical and financial issues for sick aunts. YEAH, WELL!!! IT'S THE TRUTH. I was in major financial mess last winter with medical bills and my aunt ups and dies and all the nieces had to pool money to bury her. So I was being honest. But Christians on the web do not really appreciate honesty. It's all about sweetness and light.

Upshot: I now have a reputation among some web Christians as being bitchy and short-tempered and rude. They don't seem to realize that I am only bitchy and short-tempered and rude to Christians on the web. And that they do deserve it.

But the funny counterpart to all this is that I keep meeting atheists, especially feminist atheists -- especially WHITE feminist atheists-- with whom I get along quite well. I keep becoming friends with non-Christian gay guys on the web who totally appreciate my honesty. Heck, when I told one internet gay writer buddy that I -- a born-againer wanted to review his book about his rather odd cruising sex life as a male prostitute, he said, "ooh, that'll be a great hook in the review." I told him not to fear and that I wouldn't savage him. He says he's cool; he knows I won't be cruel. Now what is that about? Also, when I get into a heated discussion with one of these folks, we work things through. I have told white feninists that they do NOT suffer as much as black minorities. (Quite the to-do because they always want to excuse white privilege.) and then we get into a deep heated discussion...and then we're closer than before. Try that with a Christian on the internet sometime. It's really strange but Christians are probably the most unforgiving types...and they don't tell you why they have cut you off. Very self-righteous types who think they know all about you.

Not only are many Christians on the internet part of a great gossipy herd-mind, but they are so into this weird idea of "sweetness" that they don't quite know what to do with honesty. So -- in spite of myself, or maybe because of myself-- I am now stuck in a bind of having to forgive these jerks. So annoying. Here I am trying to work on all my spiritual issues and this new one just creeps in on me. It's been said that God forgives people and keeps his relationship with them. But humans forgive and often sever relationships. Well, uh...I'm human. I now am stuck with folks who have "forgiven" me (or maybe not) yet have severed their relationships with me. Because they all gossip together about me without trying to understand where I come from. Basically, they reinforce each other's prejudices about how a good Christian ought to behave and I simply have been weighed in the balance and been found wanting.

I'll forgive these folks who all think I'm wrong and evil because I don't share the same agenda or racist/political notions that they do. But I will not partner with them. Nor will I have a relationship with them. No anger, mind you. But how can two walk together unless they be agreed? -C
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