Not a Troll, But What?

Whether you are a Tolkien fan or spend any time with blogs or forums on the internet, you know what a troll is, right? Someone who intentionally stirs up trouble on the comments section of a blog or on a message board. Trolls also cause trouble in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. They’re nasty, and when you get a bunch of them together, they tend to start a fight.

But what about someone who just keeps hanging around, even if they’re not wanted, just because they want attention? What do you call them. They’re not trolls—they don’t cause any trouble. In fact, sometimes, they don’t say anything at all. If you are a blogger, you know who they are, those people who run pell mell through the blogosphere liking random pages in hopes of upping their page views and readership.

I don’t know if any of Tolkien’s characters fit this description, but one of Jane Austen’s is close. If you are familiar with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—either the movie or book—you are familiar with Mr. Collins. He just wants to be important, but he’s not. He wants to be the center of attention, but most folks just want him to go away. I know he’s not exactly the model I’m looking for, but as the book is fresh on my mind and Tolkien doesn’t offer me anything better, it will have to do.

If you’ve blogged for any length of time, you have your Mr. Collins. In fact, if you randomly look at people’s blogs, you’ll see them all over the place: those little avatars of the same people—over and over and over again—liking all kinds of people’s blogs. And when I go to their blogs and see their ideologies, I know if they actually read my blog, they wouldn’t like it!

I have one that is especially funny. Yes, I know I may be sending him traffic; that’s ok. He started liking my posts several weeks ago. As I usually do, I at least visit the visitor’s site (even if he or she didn’t actually visit mine). What I found was some form of religion that vaguely claimed to be Christian, but was far from it. Secret codes, visions of angels—and only positive comments!

I engaged him on his blog in a friendly manner, but when I pressed him on whether or not he considered Jesus as fully God, he blocked me from commenting and removed some of my other comments. But since that time, he continues to “like” almost every post I make—on both of my blogs! So he is a Mr. Collins, simply looking for page views, trying to be popular in a world—despite his visions of angels and cryptic codes—that is full of more interesting characters—there are Darcys and Elizabeths spread all through the blogosphere!

The question is, will he like this one?

In Bed with the President

Actually, they are nothing at all alike.

1. Voting for president—even if we believe he will become the most powerful man in the world—is not as important as choosing to become one spiritually with another person.

2. Voting for president—even if we are passionate about his ideals and policies—does not obligate us to continue to love him if he chooses to change his opinions about certain things.*

3. Voting for president—even if we are super excited about doing it for the very first time, in what people say (don’t they always) is the most important election ever—is not as big of a decision as choosing whom you want to spend the rest of your life with in unconditional love.*

*I am of the firm opinion that loosing one’s virginity should happen only to the one you have married and intend to spend the rest of your life with. If you hold to a different opinion, those three reasons may not make much sense. They are, however, a Christian way of thinking.

John Piper’s Bloodlines: Chapter 5

In chapter five, Piper lays out nine issues that are at the root of racial strife, and then makes the claim that the gospel is the only thing that will deal completely with these hinderances to racial reconciliation and harmony. The nine are 1) Satan, 2) guilt, 3) pride, 4) hopelessness, 5) feelings of inferiority and self-doubt, 6) greed, 7) hate, 8) fear, and 9) apathy. Personally, I think three and five are the same thing: just two sides of the same coin so to speak, but regardless, Piper is correct in that the only thing that will speak to the root of each of these problems and offer a solution is the gospel of Christ.

Where this chapter falls a little short is on specifics and fleshing out completely what it looks like, particularly in the section on guilt. For me, the two that jump off the page—maybe because I sense their realities in current situations—are hopelessness and apathy. It is true that “Hopelessness destroys moral conviction by making it look ludicrous. And therefore it destroys almost everything that is beautiful and precious.” And while Piper was just giving a summary of how the gospel deals with these situations—and I am sure that Piper is aware of the hard work necessary in getting the gospel into hopeless situations—I wish he would have spoken more clearly about practicalities. And maybe that is coming in a later chapter. Or maybe that is so distinctive to a particular culture that to speak to it would be just another “Look what worked here; it’s bound to work where you are too!” My gut is the second is true.

Which means we as the church must do the hard work of thinking and praying and being active in our communities and allowing these truths to enter in to our unique situations, but never forgetting these nine issues that we are dealing with, however they happen to manifest themselves in our place and time.

PETA vs the Possum Drop

For several years PETA has had its sights on the tiny community of Brasstown, NC. When there is so much cruelty toward animals in this world, what atrocities are the fine folks of Brasstown guilty of? Well, every New Years Eve, they gather at Clay’s Corner (a convenience store owned by Clay Logan, which sits in the corner of Clay County) and ring in the New Year with gospel, patriotic, and bluegrass music, some silly skits, and then at midnight they lower a opossum in a plexiglass cage. Oh, the humanity!

PETA is suing the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission saying that they can’t issue a permit for Mr. Logan to trap and hold a opossum for the event. The Wildlife Commission disagrees, but a judge in Raleigh refused the state’s request to have the suit dismissed.

Logan continues to maintain that the opossum is never harmed. It is trapped, fed the best dog food money can buy, kept in his Plexiglass cage, slowly lowered to the ground, and then released. PETA, however, vehemently disagrees. “This is a shy, wild animal, and when you hang it crying in a Plexiglass cage—you wouldn’t want to do that to you own cat or dog. Even if it could be established that the particular opossum is not harmed or stressed, it is still against the law.”

I didn’t notice the opossum crying when I attended the event a couple of years ago. Maybe  PETA has secret cameras that zoomed in on the opossum’s eyes and discovered this travesty.

While Clay Logan has not stated his intentions if the judges put a stop to it, the state’s assistant attorney general says that it would be perfectly legal for Mr. Logan to kill a opossum, put it in the freezer, and lower the dead body on New Year’s Eve. I wonder what PETA would think of that?

But surely we all know—you do know, don’t you—that PETA is not overly concerned about opossums, right? They are, however, overly concerned about themselves. For cars do far more damage to opossums every year than Clay Logan will do in his lifetime. Where is the outcry against driving on rural roads in known opossum habitats?

But the bigger issue is where is the outcry against PETA for clogging the courts with useless lawsuits against a man and his opossums. When there are so many other issues worth fighting for, why do we put up with this nonsense?

Last year, when PETA threatened a protest, I read people’s comments on a news blog. Several talked about drunk, backwoods idiots from the mountains of North Carolina. First, unlike lots of New Year’s Eve bashes, this one involves no alcohol; it’s clean fun that honors our country which gives the right to people like those at PETA and bigots like those bloggers to say what they want to say and file wasteful lawsuits. And many of those have and will fight for their right to continue to do that.