Is Anything More Abjectly Frightening than Abject Ignorance?

This is a post I began nearly a month ago, after a series of stupid comments on the internet (I know, I shock you! ) got me–steamed up.  As I’m a woman who doesn’t often get to shuffle out that 20,000 words a day (I think that’s the supposed average), there’s a lot of verbiage, being heaped up higher and higher in my brain, needing to be used, and when the ignorance on display (instantaneous thanks to the web) gets to me, the fingers just fly over the keyboard.  I typically try to avoid reading comments (especially on Youtube, the home of the proudly quick-clicking ignorant), but some are real gems.
Here are a couple that were posted beneath a ‘fake’ religious article published on a Nigerian news site.  The article sensationalistically declared that the current pope has done what many are probably fearing (maybe even reasonably so)–he’s denied core Christian doctrines (for example, the biblical teaching on Hell).  Skipping over the article here, I post below the top comment, and a young woman’s response to it:
Comment 1: “Wow!this is truly the last days,the great tribulation is about to start.the bible says that God is the same yesterday today and forever.His words never changes.God is not like man that he should change.instead of men to change and meet Gods standard now the church is changing and and forcing its members to conform with the dictates of the world.according to him(pope)as written here;’the Bible is now a beautiful holy book’ with outdated passages.Christain beware this is not the voice of a servant of God.He does not see the bible as the sacred word of God but a piece of literature with outdated passages.Those things the word of God and the bible condems he now embraces.The bible warns that nobody should subtract or add to the words written in it or else God will remove the person’s name in the book of life or add the plagues and diseases written in the bible in the person’s life.believers please watch and pray for the end is near.

calm down lol. the end is not near. honey the bible is equivelent to greek mythology. it’s stories with a message. the message is love. he’s preaching love, and acceptance of your fellow man. the end is not near, this is very much the beginning…. the beginning of us building our brotherhood and communities again. don’t fight it because of your silly stories. you’ll just be the one left out of the love.”

… Huge [SIC], by the way.  I know, it’s painful.

I will not comment on the first comment–I have only provided it for context.  For the majority of this post, I’m going to focus on the assertion(s) made in the second.  There were many more examples of shocking, mortifying ignorance on display in the comments section beneath this article, often expressed in lackluster language and writing (almost as depressing as the half-baked thoughts and assertions conveyed), ranging from allegations of hypocrisy against a Christian (I assume) in the comments thread, but it was difficult to know to whom it was directed.  It was posted by someone who is apparently a data analyst at [a?] state department of education, who, unfortunately, appears to be only half-literate (perhaps he turns off his brain when he’s online & logged into Facebook).

And then there was a long diatribe by a supposed witch, so excited by the *gulp* unity (?) Francis is promoting.  She was droning on and on about ‘energy’ a la Cesar Millan…with a such a huge gap in worldview between her and even a super-liberal Roman Catholic (setting the pope aside for the moment), how can she possibly think that this a sign of great things to come, and that all Catholics, much less all Christians, are going to recognise that the Wicca and spiritualists have been right all along, or something?  People really do come out of the woodwork and onto the internet to voice their baseless and ridiculous opinions.

Anyway, onto the reply comment.  As I’ve written in (hopefully fair) criticism of fellow-Christians before, people really should know what they’re talking about before spouting off in public forums.  Perhaps you don’t like religion, but if you can’t explain why, your opinion isn’t worth anything.  And if you choose to denigrate a religion by equating it to something you find ‘silly’ (an attitude toward an ancient religion which, this girl probably doesn’t realise, is extremely intolerant and condescending), but at the same demonstrate that you don’t understand the religion in question, or the silly thing, you have just disqualified yourself from taking part in the Exchange in the Marketplace of Ideas.  It’s probably time for you to just listen for a while.

Greek Religion and Christianity have a couple of things in common: they are belief systems [one of which is far more coherent than the other, for what that’s worth] which endeavour to make sense of the world; they provide a way for humans to relate to the Ruler(s) of the kosmos.  And that’s about where the similarities end.  One is polytheistic, one is monotheistic; one has an internally consistent, singular narrative of cosmology, while the other has a myriad of variations; one has a deity who has revealed Himself several times throughout history, to people in certain circumstances, as well as though Holy Spirit-inspired writing, that again is consistent, personally, morally and theologically; the other has many deities, with the potential for incorporating more, whose natures are unpredictable, whose individual power, influence, character, and righteousness are fluid, depending on the narrative, and depending on the stage/period of the culture; salvation, if, in Greek Mythology, there is such a thing (in most periods, there wasn’t), is gained by doing something impressive, or heroic.  But this was in myth, not necessarily regarded as something accessible to human beings.  In Homer, death was the great leveler: the afterlife was a dull flitting about in the underworld, to which everyone goes, and Achilles himself says he would rather be alive, a slave working a field, than a famous *dead* hero.

Later, things became a bit more complicated.  Some Greeks believed in reincarnation; some hoped to become permanent members of a god’s entourage through a mystery cult.  If you were extra special, you might be deified, and your family or village might erect a little shrine to you, present your shade with votive offering and prayers, the origin of many hero cults.  This also became trendy later in Imperial Rome: several of Roman emperors got to become divi, declared so by SPQR post-mortem.

As far as the meaning of life and nature of man, the world sucks and people do bad because of various things described in the Theogony–the gods wanted man to work, or to suffer for wrongdoing (it could have been because of a profane(d) sacrifice, it could be because of Pandora, or Prometheus– the explanations are varied).  At any rate, any sort of ‘relationship’ with the gods was reserved for the few.  Ritual and sacrifice were the focus for the devout, or even semi-devout, it was very much a matter of practice rather than spirit or heart, and was very much sort of civic glue, since religion was public rather than private, and involved the whole polis (with the exception of the hearth gods and mystery cults, which still involved the community attached to it) .   Narrative in Greek mythology concerned the shift of power between heroes, cities and empires, and speculations as to why power would shift from one people to another, and why the gods chose some to be successful, and others to fall (this did not depend on any given person’s or group’s ‘worthiness’).  Myth and history are intertwined in terms of how power works.  Certainly there were always developments in Greek Religion as such, especially after the arrival on the scene of the great philosophers, pre-Socratics through Aristotle and on.

But anyway, this person was speaking of ‘Greek Mythology’, so we’ll keep our focus there.   In Christianity, there is essentially a single narrative focus: God’s plan of redemption.  The Bible tells us exactly why the world is the way it is, and why mankind has been separated from God.  It tells us exactly how God responded to the Fall, and how he worked to set apart a people for himself, not because they could be good enough to deserve it, or because they in themselves pleased him, but simply because he chose to act in grace and mercy, and not to judge all the world, as He rightly and justly could have done.   After centuries’ worth of history of intervening for his chosen people, He sent His son Jesus Christ to take man’s place, and die to redeem all who believe in him.  Then Christ rose again, proving that he was the Messiah, the son of God and perfect savior.  Greek mythology has NOTHING on this (nor does any other faith, for that matter).   Regardless of what you think of either religion, they are not the same.  Sad that someone could assert the equivalent of, ‘this apple and this orange are the same kind of fruit, and oh, both are stupid’, and more than that, put it in writing and throw it up online.  Still sadder, in our world, someone can do that and (not wrongly) expect to be taken seriously.

All this, and we haven’t even talked about her interpretation of the Bible’s ‘message’ of ‘love’ and take on human nature.  Except for perhaps ‘lol’, I doubt she can explain anything she wrote.

After all that depressing grind, something positive is required.  But it is just a grey rainy day…

Listening to F4F, and for the first time in a long time listened to a Marty Python vignette in its entirety.  They included a reference to Montezuma’s Revenge, which reminds me of Chocozuma’s Revenge.  Which chuffs me.   (This email’s making fun of you!) But I have to admit, I did enjoy the pirate adventure.   Almost makes up for the terrible ThinkGeek ad Pirate Christian Radio runs: the supposed ‘geeks’ say that the makers of Star Trek invented ‘proton’ torpedoes.  So lame–why didn’t they find real trekkies?  We’re not that rare!  And even people who aren’t die-hard trekkies know that it’s ‘photon’.  Ugh.   I comfort myself with Haribo!

In our next post, we will discuss something more substantial, perhaps even query letters!



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