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Right now there are several pastor friends of mine on Facebook who appear to be nearing a cataclysmic brink. A few of them, in my opinion, need a stiff drink. Many, if not most, of these guys are brilliant, to be sure, but they also seem as though they may not have enough to do these days because they’re spending a good portion of their time looking for certain posts so that they can micro-criticize other pastors who, in my opinion, are cut from the very same theological cloth and are actually on their side.
Unfortunately, the situation has gotten out of hand. I say this because one fellow in particular targeted another fellow he considered an opponent, and then that other fellow made the stupid mistake of calling him out on Facebook, and for a short while it escalated to the other doing something similar followed by a massive conglomeration of oatmeal-brained supporters jumping in to secure the battle lines with some pretty ridiculous commentary.
And the whole thing went nowhere.
It’s very sad, but it’s also somewhat humorous. I wish I could say that the whole thing is stodgy and off-putting, but it’s not. It’s rather intriguing to behold, and here’s why.
First, because people have been using Facebook for a crap load of years now and they still haven’t seemed to figure out that it’s not the place for substantive debate or resolving differences of opinion. I’ve never seen anyone reconcile an argument through social media. Social media is the trough at which most folks gather to read and share only those articles that fit their well-established opinions, and it is the same place where you can take a quick and securely distant potshot at someone, and then when that person responds, you can accuse him of being a narcissist for thinking that the post was about him. And when that isn’t enough, in the commentary that follows, you can work to gather your forces to annihilate all those in opposition to you.
Oh yeah, and Facebook is also where you can keep up with old friends, that is until they feel as though your particular political leanings offend them and they decide to annihilate or unfriend you, too.
Second, the situation I’m referencing above is intriguing because as you read the circus of words surrounding what could have been an important point, you come to realize that there are at least a few in the mix who seem to be more so aimed at showing themselves to be smarter than others rather than actually trying to reconcile any particular issue. I say this because one observer appears to have introduced himself more deeply into the mix by charting the microscopic layers of the rather innocent words and actions of one of the original players in order to find weaknesses, when in reality, I dare say that he’s probably said similar things before and neither he nor his Facebook friends have ever taken issue. And had this whole thing never occurred at all, odds are that no one in any of these threads would even be seeing these ghosts.
In the end, Shakespeare said it very well: “One sees more devils than vast hell can hold.” This band of frenzied theologians is seeing a whole bunch of devils where there may not necessarily be any. Wait, there are some, and they do need to be stomped, but just not as many as some may think or believe. Just mostly egos.
So, like I said, a stiff drink is in order. My suggestion, friends: The Laphroaig PX Cask.
In this dram you’ll smell a little bit of the hell some of you seem so desperately set upon discovering in each other, but only in the sense that there’s smoke right out of the gate—not much, but some. It’s more of a gentle, more calming smolder, and as it turns out, you got this one all wrong. It isn’t a hellish foe, but rather a friend. It’s a peated campfire in Saint Peter’s back yard in heaven, and he’s got a newly uncorked bottle of sherry sitting downwind of the flames and sending what smells like dried Morello cherries to your nostrils.
Welcoming you to a seat by the fire, well aware that you are intent upon using some really big words while acting as children—some more so than others—he doesn’t differentiate between you, but rather hands each of you a dram. With a singular digit, he reaches out and tips the base so that you get a sizeable gulp. This stuff hurts you a little. It stops you where you are and prods you to take time to think things through before you post on Facebook. And as you do, you sense smoked and leathered fruits—plums and black raspberries hammered together and dried—two distinct fruits found as one palatable chew. Peter forces another swig, and this time you sense oily cloves.
The finish drifts away at a medium pace, leaving behind the campfire’s peat embers and more so the plums than the raspberries.
It’s nice. It’s a reconciling dram.
And if the clergy-foes would only allow a moment together with such a dram, they might be calmed and a tad more willing to look inwardly and realize, again, as Shakespeare said so well: “Small things make base men proud.”
Thanks for sending along the sample, Nathan Redman!