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Over at FB, I've seen several people post this meme;



It's not that different from lots of other memes that float around there, and I feel a bit guilty for singling it out. Particularly as I'll be posting a link of this to FB and really don't want to single out my particular friends. So let me say at the start - I'm not trying to single out the people who shared this. I know they meant well, and my frustrations have to do with a much larger problem. In particular, several larger problems.

#1. Armchair Activism: I always get frustrated with altruism, activism, whatever that doesn't require any real sacrifice. The Kony2012 video is a great example of this phenomenon. You also see it in stores that make donations if you buy a certain product, like the recent October Baby that would donate ten percent of the profit to pro-life groups. Whatever practical good they do, they inoculate us. There's something we're supposed to care deeply about, but all we have to do is go to the movie, or share a YouTube video, or share a picture on FaceBook. And suddenly we feel like we've done our part.

Loving God and loving your neighbor should require more than that. It's supposed to be hard - certainly harder than sharing the news about the new Hobbit movie. And of course there's nothing wrong with doing the simple stuff either. But I know in my experience, with things like this, so often this is the end of the story. You're outraged over child soldiers, you share the video, and there's this catharsis; your angst is relieved. My faith requires more of me.

#2. The "Christian Nation" Vibe: This picture says that 97% of FB users won't repost this simple message. I bristle at drives to "won't you please forward/repost this" on principle - they strike me as manipulative even when they're not meant that way! - but here in particular it seems to assume that all FB users are the kind of people who will post Christian-themed things. There are around two billion Christians in the world, last I heard - roughly 1/3 of the world's population. And that includes people who are Catholic because they were born in Italy, or Southern Baptist because they were white and born in Atlanta, or whatever.

In lots of areas of the world, if you're born there and you don't really think that much about religion or theology, you're probably going to be a member of a certain religion. It's actually a very rare person who considers the different views on offer by the different religions and secularism, chooses the one that best matches up with his own, and is as likely to be a Buddhist or a Jew as he was a Baptist. It's a matter of identity (and of necessity - understanding theology takes a lifetime of study and living with it; not everyone can afford that). Christian Scripture pretty much teaches this fact - cf. Mt 25.

Whatever you think of people like this, it's not just that they're lazy. Acting like the whole world is Christian, let alone devout Christians, is misleading at best.

(For the record, I'm one of those Christians that feels odd about public professions of faith. Not because I'm embarrassed or anything, but because what Jesus said about using faith in God as identity - you know, the people that prayed loudly in the temple, who'd already received their reward. It's not laziness on my part, either.)

#3. He Sees You When You're Sleeping... It's the last bit that really pushes my button. You should post this picture because: "Repost if you love God. He already saw you read it. That's just insulting on many levels, as if the way I live out my faith is just because God's watching over my shoulder. It actually reminded me about another meme I've been meaning to blog about. Will just link to it because it has some triggers for domestic violence, but I can't say it any more plainly: the kind of love depicted in that picture - and that grows out of the fear implied in that last line - is not worthy of worship. Or even sharing on FaceBook. And it's definitely not worthy of God.

(Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.)

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August 2012

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