BLM takes to the streets to protest the deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers. Much of the nation turned out to protest the death of George Floyd. How many "Q" marches have you seen?
Why so many Trump supporters crave apocalyptic bloodshed https://t.co/wZacxTk0SK— Raw Story (@RawStory) June 2, 2021
The introduction of this story to this discussion is instructive here, not tangential. Anyone familiar with church life knows less than 10% of the congregation does all the heavy lifting of the congregation. Not only are they the ones who attend church on a regular basis (most churches have far more "members" on the rolls than ever they have in average attendance), they do all the work of the church: treasury, grounds maintenance, cleaning (in small churches), or just the governance of the church (in large and small churches). The vast majority soon figure out who the volunteers are, and leave it to them. They may bitch and moan, but they can't be bothered to take the merest responsibility for anything.
Evangelical pastor warns people are taking QAnon as a religion: We're no match for '24 hours of Facebook'https://t.co/E2rChAPuZX— Raw Story (@RawStory) June 2, 2021
"It is a situation where conspiracy theories are going through not just churches, but the entire community," said [Russell] Moore [former President of the SBC]. "As a Christian, I am concerned about this because we are people of truth, and we are people supposed to be looking for truth revealed by the words of God, not conspiracy theories around social media."
Yeah, that's a lovely idea, and one I came out of seminary full to the brim with, even as I knew from my then 40+ years of living that was not exactly what people in churches were looking for. Fact is, the vast majority of them not only aren't looking for that, they don't want it provided to them, either. Church for those people, the majority of the majority of congregations, IMHExperience, is all about the cultural comforts. They want the flag of America in that worship space because God Bless America! And they want their positions in society sanctified and certified and never really examined critically. Mostly they want to be told they are God's chosen and all's well with the world and their place in heaven is bought and paid for and just waiting for them to move in, and the blessings of their life now are proof of the blessings of God on them and theirs and what they own and earn.
None of which is necessarily in line with the "truth revealed by the words of God." In fact, most of what people believe more closely resembles conspiracy theories than not. Certainly their fears about nameless people who want to take away what God has given them (and what Godly comfort is that? Don’t ask.). This may be the true revelation of Trump: how what "we" believe is sound and reason-based, and what "they" believe is "conspiracy theories." The log in my eye, the splinter in yours. There is a reason so many people are susceptible to "conspiracy theories," and it's not because of social media.
Which is the other interesting thing Moore says:
"What I try to tell them is, figure out whether the person is confused or whether this is someone who bought in the full package of some sort of ideology, and one would handle those things differently," said Moore. "There are some people who just hear something and saying, what do I believe? And then there are others who are looking for a kind of belonging that they are finding on social media or somewhere else, and that is dangerous. Especially, pastors only have access to people maybe an hour or three hours a day, that's nothing compares to 24 hours a day from Facebook."
Sound advice there (I mean no criticism of Mr. Moore), but that final sentence betrays the whole game. That's the cry of Puritan Americans who tried to control every aspect of the community's life, the better to keep the community "pure" and "on the right path." Read Bradford's history of Plymouth plantation: that control of the community didn't last 20 years. Indeed, the idea of keeping people from going "astray" is a pipe dream, with or without Facebook. But the longing to belong is dangerous; it's as dangerous as lust and desire, the twin dangers Ovid had so much to say about. But Ovid offered his stories as cautionary tales for why lust and desire could be so dangerous to human society (and only incidentally to individuals; our perspective on what is fundamental, individuals or society, shifted ineradicably in the 19th century. That's another problem, but if we don't note it, Ovid becomes an anachronism, and he should never be that.) We can't eradicate the need for community, either. Hell, the concept of the church is built on that.
But can there be but one community? Community, and my community?
It's more dangerous not to consider that issue. But there's something inherently dangerous in Christianity, especially if you take it seriously enough to examine the log in your eye that you see reflected as a splinter in someone else's eye. That kind of self-examination is so dangerous most people don't even want to think about it. But I think the real point of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth was to make us think about those things; at the very least.
How else can you ever hope to be the last of all and servant of all? And by the way, try teaching that was the concrete (not metaphorical) truth revealed by the words of God. But be careful; you'll find it's very, very dangerous. At least to you, as its preacher.