Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Has Anyone Ever Convinced Anyone Else?

I can't stand most talk radio. Besides the fact that everyone is always shouting, it hardly seems that anyone ever really hears anything anyone else says. P.J. O'Rourke wrote a column for the Atlantic about this.

On-line religious discussion tends in the same direction, plus the side channel of out-and-out sermons. Well, I suppose there are enough disfunctional people involved who simply don't realize that there's someone at another keyboard to whom they are talking. But all too often I see messages arguing against imaginary opponents. What's the point of arguing with someone if you aren't going to argue with them?

I suspect, sadly, that a lot of the argument is actually about self-righteousness. The point seems to be not to convince anyone else, but just to have stated the Right Dogma, thereby identifying onesself as one of the Elect/Saved/whatever. I say, "Why bother?" God already knows what you believe, after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you; after hosting my website, I have found that many of the posters really don't care about the human feelings of the other posters. I wonder how many people are turned off from Christianity due to such petty "discourse"? Of course, there are some very good discussions online and the internet has faciliated a way of making contact with people who otherwise we would have never met. Some of my greatest friendships have begun online.

One of the reasons I have ended up wasting too much of my personal time posting on online message boards is because I see so much misinformation being posted, and I feel a need to correct it. But I am learning to let go of this need, leaving it to our Lord to judge. I try to correct only when it is going to have an effect on someone.

When I used to post regularly on the Byzantine Forum, I realized that there are several "factions" and that no one really listened to each other. That can make you wonder: why not just read the books that you were going to read anyway instead of wasting your time writing about these books. One could get more done. Yet at the same time, sincere Christians test out their beliefs to make sure that they are on the right path, and message boards can be effective tools for this.