Ever since starting to engage in the blogosphere (and Facebook, and anywhere on the Internet, really), I have frequently encountered the phenomenon of "trolling." Wikipedia's definition of an Internet troll is "someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community...with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." I think this is a fairly adequate description of what so many of us have experienced with disdain. I am not sure though that these frustrating people who like to antagonistically comment on everything are always doing so entirely intentionally. Sometimes, I think people actually think they are responding intelligently to something or engaging in a legitimate discussion when in fact they are not at all.
It seems that these days the whole controversial issue of homosexuality (though I would say it's becoming less and less controversial in North America) has degenerated into an argument about whether gay people were born that way or choose to be gay. We only need look to Lady Gaga for a prominent example. This is sadly an irrelevant argument though because it actually doesn't matter. At all. The fact is that whether you chose something or whether you were born into it has exactly no impact on whether it is right or wrong, true or false, moral or immoral. In fact, everybody knows this in almost every other area of their lives. For some reason though, homosexuality has become a social exception.
Let's think about this for a moment...
In April 2011, soul artist Anthony David put out the above music video for his song "God Said." Watch a few minutes of it and you'll start to get the idea behind the lyrics. On his own blog, David outlined his reasons for writing this song and making the video. Here's an excerpt:
"I wrote a song called GOD SAID after watching Pat Robertson declare that the earthquake in Haiti was because of a curse from God. After hearing a man named Rev. Wiley say that he was praying for President Obama's death during the election (the prayer didn't work BTW). After hearing people fiddle around with the idea of a curse on Japan after their recent disaster. After hearing about Koran burnings and battles that seem to have peoples' interpretations of religious texts at the foundation of them all.
I'm not one of those who claims that religion is the ONLY thing that causes all of the wars and bloodshed, but it has caused many. But not necessarily even the religion but the interpretation of a few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence. I figured it was time to have a conversation with extremists like this, and put that kind of thinking in its proper perspective.
It's just my opinion, but I suspect peace-loving people from all walks of life will agree with me on SOME level."
Let me first say that I have a huge amount of respect for David just for writing and releasing this song. He shows that he cares about this world, about his fellow man, and about truth. He cares about making a difference through his music, not just selling records. And he cares about people, not just winning an argument. For these reasons alone, he is automatically a better artist to me than the vast majority of them out there.
He has a lot of good things to say too. He rightly criticizes Rev. Wiley Drake for praying for Obama's death and calling it God's will (should we really be giving people like that the title of Reverend?). He demonstrates his heart for the people of Haiti and Japan by speaking out against those who would call them cursed. And there is no question that he is right about the atrocities caused by "a few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence."
BUT there are some clarifications that need to be made...
Note: If you are not familiar with Westboro Baptist Church prior to reading this open letter, watch a bit of ABC's 20/20 report here. You'll get the idea.
Dear Pastor Fred Phelps and members of Westboro Baptist Church;
I forgive you.
That's probably not what you were expecting. You probably don't think you need my forgiveness. Most other people reading this probably don't think you deserve it. Nevertheless, I forgive you.
I often hear that Christians are "intolerant" and "impose" their beliefs upon others.
And it's understandable, really. There have been many tragic incidents, both today (see Terry Jones) and in the past (see the Crusades) where intolerant and imposing people identified themselves with Jesus. Why this applies only to Christians and not to all of society, however, baffles me. Joseph Stalin's administration was pretty intolerant too (atheist regime). So is Osama Bin Laden, at least from what I hear (Muslim). So are Canadians (...pretty much everything you can think of).