My wife and I welcomed the new addition to our home with no little suspicion and trepidation. We had never owned one before, and nor had we ever an opportunity to learn to drive one. We had heard many horror stories regarding them; people (particularly women) had become addicted to them. Young ladies were particularly susceptible, being deceived into accepting all that they heard through them as truth, and being led away to slavery, or worse. And then, a few short weeks later, my own dear wife, bless her pretty little cotton socks, was herself addicted. Yes, I speak of that most dangerous of human inventions, the personal computer, or PC for short, and specifically I speak of that most diabolical invention, that comes to us through the PC, the internet chat room. It was 2007, or there abouts, and in order to solve the great mystery of chat room addictive behaviour, I decided to investigate for myself.
Over the ensuing couple of weeks, I discovered four very important things, which have greatly contributed to shaping my life from that time to the present day.
1. I discovered that the internet had massive potential for sharing the gospel.
2. I discovered also that I wasn’t the first to discover this.
3. I found that to my great dismay and chagrin, every man and his pet goldfish had their own version of what the gospel means, despite their constant claim to ‘knowing Jesus,’ ‘having the Bible as their foundation for all doctrine and teaching’ and ‘having God’s own Holy Spirit’ abiding in them to teach them personally. Some had even gone so far as to spend many years in universities, colleges, Bible schools and such like, and subsequently being able to adorn themselves with numerous letters after their names to prove it, and even they disagreed with each other. Not only did they differ from one another on the small points which have no bearing on our ultimate destiny, but they disagreed often on the most basic beliefs, which indeed do affect our ultimate destiny, and more than this, nearly every one of them (including the goldfish) disagreed with me, which meant they were all wrong!
So, having decided to impart to everyone who would listen all the pearls of accumulated wisdom and insight that I had collected over my thirty-five odd years of being clearly one of the most faithful, truth centered, consecrated disciples of Jesus on the planet, I proceeded to register my name on a number of chat sights and in very short order discovered the fourth very important thing that has shaped my life recently. This fourth discovery has several facets.
4. a. I was a lousy, slow typist. By the time I had typed my three or four paragraphs of diamond studded insight into the box and pressed ‘enter,’ seventeen new people had entered the chat room, eight of the original ten had left, the two remaining were not interested in what I had to say anyway, and no-one else understood a thing I wrote. And when I read back my posts, I could barely understand it either, the misspelling and ‘typos’ being so abundant.
b. Absolutely nothing of any depth was actually being discussed; the numbers coming and going forbidding any meaningful conversation beyond ‘Hi… How are you… Haven’t seen you in here for a while… I’m sick and home from work… my baby’s just spewed all over my laptop… etc. etc.
c. There really is no answer to why chat-rooms are so addictive.
d. And finally, I discovered that because of a seemingly inbuilt suspicion and even open antagonism against Seventh Day Adventists within the Christian community, most roundly rejected me without any hearing, arrest warrant, reading of rights, or trial, and damned me as a heretic without right of appeal.
I had to look elsewhere and change my modus operandi if I was going to have any success in changing the world. Thus I registered in an on-line forum, where one could write as much as he liked, within reason, and not need a reply for a day or so. Conversations were lengthened out over weeks if not months, and everyone had an equal opportunity to share and learn from one another. The perfect environment for such as me, where ‘dialogue’ and open, frank discussion was the order of the day. Well, that was the theory anyway.
The first site I registered on was run by staunch Calvinists; the moment the moderators twigged to my SDA leanings, I was banned. Since then I have found some a little more tolerant — at least they allow me to remain on the books — but I am not allowed to promote SDA teachings; rather, I am permitted to answer queries regarding SDA teachings but only in specific forums which are generally not read by most members.
Another site has special forums for just about any denomination you can think of so the end result is those who go there just talk among themselves in their own areas.
Just three months ago, however, I came across a site that was completely non-denominational and allowed for anyone to join in any discussion freely so long as no-one promoted their own denomination. I find that refreshing, and am enjoying sharing there, but I did use a little cunning. I didn’t divulge my denominational leanings at any time, and it was only last week that a member familiar with our teachings asked if I was a Seventh Day Adventist. Because I had been sharing nothing apart from my own personal perspective on many issues, doctrines, prophecy etc., which all are SDA, I asked this member why it took so long to ‘out’ me.
Then there is the blog. I had heard of these of course, but being the archetypical technophobe I was reluctant to investigate further for a long time. Ironically, it was a member from one of the sites, a member who had been one of my bitterest opponents, who suggested I start a blog. Clearly, an ulterior motive was at work here, thinking that a distraction such as a blog would give him some much sought after relief from my continual heretical abominations. And so an investigation ensued and the result was twofold.
a. I found the blog to be a very convenient storage house for my studies on all things Biblical and
b. as I looked around at other blogs I found a greater appreciation for others’ thoughts and perspectives.
So over the years I have learned more I think about myself than I would possibly care to admit. I have also learned that it isn’t going to be me, nor for that matter anyone else either, who is going to change the world. That little task comes under God’s job description, a task for which He is far more qualified than I, with vastly more experience, and the only one with the power to do it. That He uses human agencies to accomplish this from time to time, will always be a puzzle to me, and glory to Him.
Finally, I think the greatest thing I have gained over the last five or six years, the one thing I cherish the most, is the freedom of speech, the freedom to worship according to ones own conscience, and to discuss and share our thoughts and beliefs with one another without bias, bigotry, condemnation, or ridicule. This does not exist everywhere I have found, but where it can be found, must be embraced, protected, and nourished as one of the greatest gifts God has bestowed upon us.
© 2012 Brendan James, Repairing the Breech