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Monday, August 1, 2016

Catholics on Facebook

Harpies by Gustav Dore
If I knew nothing about Christianity or Catholicism except what I experienced of them from Facebook, I would not choose to be Catholic. I would not choose to be Christian.

Facebook friend "Bill" has wall-to-wall Christianity on his Facebook page. Christian books, Christian studies.

Bill called a woman a "harpy" because she had had an abortion.

"Harpy" is a chimera – a monster – from Greek mythology. It is half woman and half bird of prey. The women's breasts are conventionally exposed and exaggerated. The evil and destructive nature of the bird of prey is emphasized.

The word "harpy" exists to insult and dehumanize women. It's up there with the n-word. It reflects one male view of women as nothing more than sexual allure – the heavy breasts – combined with deadly, carnivorous rapaciousness.

I spoke to Bill, as one Christian to another. "Women who have had abortions are human beings, not animals. We are not to hate people because they are women. 'Harpy' is a misogynist word. Further, speaking of women who have had abortions in this manner will not stop a single abortion."

Bill responded with what sounded to me like rage. "Mao was a human being!"

So – if you are a woman who has had an abortion, you are comparable to Mao Tse Tung.

"And don't you dare play the misogynist card with me! I have a wife and two daughters!"

Lots of ISIS fighters have wives and daughters. That doesn't make them anything but misogynists.

I think it was also Bill who said that anyone who didn't vote for Trump worships "Molech." He meant Moloch, the ancient deity to whom Canaanites sacrificed their children.

Trump, of course, has called for torture and the murder of terrorists' innocent family members. If you don't vote for that, you sacrifice your children to a Canaanite god.

This is just one story.

I'll tell one more. A day I'll never forget. A "Christian" said that the idea of a woman priest is "Satanic."

I could go on, but you get the idea.

I encounter a good deal of misogyny among self-identified Christians and Catholics on Facebook. I also encounter judgmentalism and rage.

In my own very subjective experience, I don't encounter a lot of what Jesus talked about in Matthew 25: "I was naked, and you clothed me. I was hungry, and you fed me. I was in prison, and you visited me. I was sick, and you looked after me."

I've been dealing with a lot of stuff the past four years. I have needed rides to medical appointments and a lot of bucking up.

I have to confess that I have noticed that the more overtly religious someone is on Facebook, the less likely that person is to do any of the Matthew 25 stuff in a way that is visible to me.

This is a generalization. I know a couple of overtly religious people who are also genuinely caring and supportive.

And maybe the overtly religious people who never seem to show anyone any love are doing it privately, but hey – Facebook is people. Facebook's little boxes of text are full of people's thoughts and feelings. If you are talking about women as Satanic harpies and Hillary voters as worshippers of Moloch,

And if you are never reaching out your hand to your fellow to be supportive, to be kind, to be patient, to give someone a smile,

how does that mesh with the command to be loving?

It's like Jesus never even said those words.

I've gotten private messages from a handful of people who have really offered concrete help, which, frankly, most of the time I don't accept.

An example. I recently asked for a ride to a medical appointment. I was feeling depleted by medical treatments and afraid to drive. I could not get a ride. In the end I drove myself, putting myself and others on the road at risk.

A Facebook friend who, afaik, is an atheist, lives in a different state. This person offered to send me money to pay for a taxi to the medical appointment.

I did not accept, but I'll never forget that offer.

Often, not always, the people who have shown me concrete kindness, from a card in the mail to sharing a funny meme, have been atheists, Jews, secular Jews, Pagans, not-very-showy look-at-me-I'm-so-Christian, or "none of the above."

One more thing.

Christians, why is it so easy for you to yell and scream about women and homosexuals, but so many of you can't bring yourselves to make a peep about jihadis slitting the throats of priests in Catholic churches and stoning Copts in Egypt?

Do you release your righteous rage against women and homosexuals because they are an easy target, and give jihadis a free pass because they might hurt you?

If this post causes anyone to think twice about how he or she talks about his or her fellow human beings while purporting to be Christian on Facebook, this post will have done some good.

And yes I know I am imperfect, and if you want to point that out to me, please take a number. 

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