More crankiness

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This is a blog of exploration and seeking, not of arguing and debate. I have always tried stay positively focused on the values and ideals that are important to me. Arguing with proselytizers or self-proclaimed guardians of truth from the religious right distracts from that goal, and it wears me down quickly. I don't have the time or inclination to waste my time arguing with trolls or with people who are not interested in serious dialog or discussion.

The recent attacks against me in a posting at a right wing Anglican blog came out of nowhere. For the most part, my blog has been barely a blip on the blogosphere's radar screen. Hardly anyone reads it. Suddenly it got a lot of attention from a lot of people, for both good and bad. My guess is that this attention will soon pass and I will go back to being an obscure blogger who often writes entries that are far too long to hold anyone's attention, whose blog lacks the bells and whistles that others have, and who most people on the web don't even pay attention to.

I wasn't about to get dragged into a fight I didn't pick, so while I did read some of the obnoxious comments to the blog posting that attacked me, I certainly wasn't going to go to that web site and participate in those discussions against my will. The comments to the original post covered the gamut from positive to negative. They ranged from insulting (and often blatantly false) personal attacks against me (by the original poster and his staunch defenders), to condescending (by those who consider me a prospective proselyte), to wonderfully supportive (by those kind souls who stood up for me.)

Reviewing the comments, I noted that the original blogger, who had trolled the net and found my post-Easter entry, defended his behavior by trying to have it both ways. He claimed on the one hand he had borne no hostility to me at all when he posted his message; in the next breath, however, he went on to justify the very hostility that he denied having(!)--claiming that my posting "drips with contempt", and further accusing me of being "lazy" and "self-centered". This process of wanting to have it both ways makes it impossible to pin people like this down on anything, and inevitably any discussion with such individuals is slippery and useless.

It is interesting to note that he justified the "lazy" accusation with the lie that I was one of those who "couldn’t drag themselves out of bed before most Christian churches start their Sunday morning services" (namely, 11 AM)--something that, if he had actually read the posting that he quoted almost in its entirety, he would have known to be untrue, since I wrote about showing up in time for a 10:30 service and then showing up in time for an 11 AM service, but attending neither (in fact, I alluded in my posting to the fact that I was up early enough to attend a 10 AM service in the city, but not the remote suburbs where I would have to drive a ways.)

I was curious what other attacks against me have shown up on the net behind my back, so I did a little internet search, lo and behold, I discovered another instance in another blog. After discussing in the comments section of John Shuck's blog some of claims that the gospels had made about Jesus , one of the individuals of a literalist bent who I had responded to in the comments section of a posting there decided to respond in turn to my comment--not in the same section of that blog where I had posted my comment, where I would have seen it, but in his own blog. There he attacked what I wrote and referred to me explicitly by my blogger id, without telling me. Seeing what he wrote there, it was clear that a major element of what I had said had gone right over his head--but of course, I couldn't correct him on it, since I didn't even know that he had written this response. But never mind, it was a convenient way for him to attack me on his home turf in a way without me readily knowing about it, and besides, to go to his blog now and argue with him would be exactly the thing I am trying to avoid--namely, sapping all my time and energy engaging with obnoxious bloggers.

The author of the posting on the right wing Anglican blog that attacked me is not about to apologize for his behavior. People of that ilk rarely do. I've seen plenty of these sorts of Warriors for the Cause of Truth on the internet and elsewhere; knowing that Truth and God are on your side excuses all sorts of actions in some people's minds. Dialog and discussion are simply not possible.

I believe that there are some people who hold conservative views who are nevertheless willing to engage others as equal partners in a friendly and fair dialog. If I sense that this is (or might be) the case, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, at least until they demonstrate otherwise--and unfortunately, some of them do prove otherwise in short order. But I try not to judge people too quickly on that score. For that matter, there are also religious liberals with whom I may have theological disagreements, but I can have friendly discussions with them in a spirit of open and respectful dialog. I encourage and enjoy this kind of discussion, as a matter of fact.

What will clue me in about the pointlessness of further discussion with certain individuals are any of the following: a slipperiness that makes the other party impossible to pin down; a quickness to judge me or what I am saying without sufficient information to make such a judgment; or out and out proselytizing. The former two characteristics are associated with a hostile stance that makes discussion a waste of time anyway, and the latter with condescension, which also makes discussion a waste.

Trolls, unfortunately, are a fact of life on the internet. They justify their behavior by arguing that the internet is a public place where commenting and responding is part of the game--and since anyone can subject public blog postings to response and ridicule, that makes it okay to do so. This attitude that, if you can do it, then it is okay to do it, is a strange one for the self-proclaimed moralists of the Religious Right to be making, but there you have it.

It is always difficult to have your scars rubbed raw. My scars from my fundamentalist youth are something that I will carry with me throughout my life. One of the most difficult challenges for me over the years has been to explore religion despite those scars, and I believe, thankfully, that I have reached a point in my life where I am actually able to do that. So I am handling this whole incident with more ease than I might have many years ago. I guess just knowing that is a valuable lesson that I can draw from this experience.

8 comments:

John Shuck said...

Hi Cranky Seeker!

I love your blog and what you write. It is filled with depth of thought and candor. I usually don't respond to stuff about me on other blogs. I did before, but now, I realize it isn't much fun. I let them go.

To get attacked is really a badge of honor. You are writing about things that matter. Good for you! Don't get discouraged, but cranky is just fine!

Keep up the great work!

John

Heather said...

John is right, in that you're being attacked because you write about things that matter. Not that it makes the process anymore enjoyable.

I did end up checking the website that referrened, and then "critiqued" your post, and ... wow. In a way, they were responding to your post in the same behavior that they claimed you had.

MadPriest said...

Hey, you are very much part of a neighbourhood that is far from obscure. You obviously can take care of yourself but if you ever want reinforcements you know my address. We've had this sort of trouble before and we have found that if we send Dennis over to their place they soon shut up.

Ruth said...

I really hope that you are not deterred form continuing with your blog. I've only just found it and it is excellent - really thought-provoking. I question my faith; a lot. I look forward to commenting further and discussing some of my questions with you.

klady said...

It still dismays me that such a wonderful blog with no allegiances or ties to any party in the church wars could get hit like yours did. Forgive me, but it made me so angry that the best I could do at the time was to speak rather dispassionately on my own. Thanks to Madpriest, Dennis, and others who had the guts to go over and stand up to them.

I love your blog, too. It reflects the kind of probing, thoughtful writing at length that I like best as a reader and can only hope to someday aspire to as a writer. All it takes is a quick glance at a few entries to know that your attacker hadn't bothered to read anything but the bits he wanted to tear out randomly and skewer from his own twisted point of view.

Anyway, you have every right to be cranky. But please don't let it deter you from writing freely in the future. Clearly you have flourished as a result of having this place of your own. Don't let anyone take it from you.

Mystical Seeker said...

Thanks John, Heather, MadPriest, Ruth, and Klady for your support. It means a lot to me to hear what you've written.

Eileen said...

Ditto to what everyone else said.

quakerboy said...

You write: "My scars from my fundamentalist youth are something that I will carry with me throughout my life. One of the most difficult challenges for me over the years has been to explore religion despite those scars, and I believe, thankfully, that I have reached a point in my life where I am actually able to do that."

Friend, you speak my mind! How many of us are out there that love God in spite of our fundy upbringing?

It took years to reconnect to spirituality after giving up my black and white worldview. My partner is just now coming around...his folks are connected to Bob Jones University and even the mention of Jesus would make him angry. Now he is okay with Jesus...the Jesus of the Gospels that is.

Press on buddy! We might be under attack but how many folks are out there who will one day shed the garment of dogmatic legalism and rejoice in the freedom that Jesus can offer?

Love and peace,
Craig