Friday, March 04, 2022

Christians Need To Be Far More Active On The Internet

It's common for people to object that Christians are behaving irresponsibly on Twitter, Facebook, and other online settings, especially in political contexts, but occasionally in other contexts as well. And it's popular to make derogatory comments about the internet and how unimportant it supposedly is (e.g., the popular dismissive comments about how it's allegedly ridiculous to be concerned that "somebody is wrong on the internet"). Supposedly, there's a major problem with people being unloving, arguing too much, and so forth, and that problem needs to frequently be addressed. But far less is said about the other end of the spectrum, the people who are much less involved than they should be with controversial issues, especially in religion, where it matters most. Yet, as I've documented many times, the percentage of people who are involved in these matters too little - far too little - vastly outnumbers the percentage who are involved too much or are involved in a way that's unloving, contentious, or some such thing.

So, when something like a small fraction of one percent of the population is highly involved in apologetics, while ninety-some percent are less involved than they should be - typically much less involved than they should be - why does the former group get so much more criticism than the latter? Probably largely because of the popularity of that latter group. Peer pressure, in other words. If you're a pastor or radio host, your audience doesn't want to be criticized for their neglect of apologetics, theology, ethics, politics, or whatever else. It's much easier to flatter the large majority of your audience while criticizing a small minority. It makes you more popular, keeps your paychecks coming, and so on.

A common example of this kind of thing is the handwringing we often see over the political atmosphere on Twitter. But what percentage of the population is involved in some kind of inappropriate behavior in Twitter exchanges? A tiny percentage. How many are involved in political discussions on Twitter in general, including discussions of a better nature? Few. The same Americans who tell pollsters and other people how concerned they are about how negative the political atmosphere of the nation is, how politically divided the nation is, etc. aren't involved much in politics themselves. After they hang up the phone with the pollster, they'll go sit in front of the television to watch some trivial (or worse) program, read a trivial book, do some cooking, go to a family gathering, or whatever, with little or no concern about politics. Americans aren't too political. They're too unpolitical.

Religion is more important than politics, and the level of neglect is worse with religion than with politics. But whether it's religion, politics, ethics, philosophy, the paranormal, or whatever other area of life that tends to be neglected, it's not difficult to figure out which side of the spectrum is more in need of correction. It's not the people who are highly involved or even the subset of those people who truly are unloving, contentious, or wrong in some other way. It's the large majority of the population who are more in need of correction, the large majority who are doing little or none of the relevant work and are so apathetic and contemptuous toward the people who are doing it. The people who should be criticized more are the ones who rarely or never try to persuade others about religious issues, make little or no use of the opportunities they have online, etc. Think of how many significant books on Amazon don't have any reviews from a Christian perspective, how frequently atheists and other groups who are smaller than Christians outnumber Christians in online discussions, how often ninety-some percent of the Christians who watch a good YouTube video won't even click the like button, how many Christians spend years online doing things like emailing relatives and posting family photographs on Facebook while doing little or nothing in contexts like theology and apologetics, etc.

There are billions of people in the world. You won't be interacting with the vast majority of those people face-to-face. The internet is the best tool most people have to reach a much larger audience (and a better audience, in the sense of being more interested, more informed, and so forth). It's good for people to also use television, books, radio, the telephone, and other tools to reach a bigger audience, but the internet is what's most efficient for most individuals. We don't need Christians to be less active online. We need them to be far more active online in the contexts that matter most.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Whether, When, And How The Enfield Poltergeist Concluded

The issues surrounding the conclusion of the case are larger and more complicated than is often suggested. Many of the factors involved haven't gotten much attention and remain unsettled. I can't answer every question, but I want to discuss what I know at this point.

I'll be citing the tapes of Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair. Grosse's tapes will be referenced with "MG", so that MG22B is a reference to tape 22B in his collection. Playfair's tapes will be designated with "GP", so that GP12B is a reference to his tape 12B.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Contexts In Which An Assumption Of Mary Could Have Been Mentioned

I've often mentioned that sources in the earliest centuries of Christianity who discuss assumptions to heaven and related topics keep citing examples other than Mary, but never cite Mary as an example. (See here and here, for example, and the other posts linked within those ones.) It's helpful to think of the number and variety of categories involved, so that we know how significant the lack of reference to Mary is. Since Roman Catholics have disagreed about whether Mary died prior to being assumed to heaven, the contexts in which Mary could be mentioned will vary somewhat depending on what view of whether she died is held. If we combine both views, think of the contexts in which Mary could be mentioned:

- People who didn't die.
- People who have been raised from the dead.
- People who have experienced resurrection to an immortal body rather than just being raised in the sense of resuscitation.
- People who were bodily taken up to heaven.
- People who are currently living in the afterlife in a bodily state, prior to the general resurrection in the future.

We find these topics discussed in scripture and the patristic literature, frequently in some cases. So, it's not just that Mary's alleged assumption goes unmentioned in one context or on some small handful of occasions. Rather, it's unmentioned across a large number and variety of contexts and occasions for hundreds of years while other figures keep getting mentioned over and over again (e.g., Enoch, Elijah, Paul). And we're often told by Catholics that Mary was held in such high regard by the earliest Christians, that she's the greatest being after God, etc. You'd think an assumption of Mary would have been prominent in their thinking accordingly if they'd believed in her assumption.