Sometimes Sharing is a Bad Thing

I am supposed to be Christmas shopping right now, and instead I'm writing this, so this reversal of plans means a few different things.  

1.  I can hardly contain my irritation at what I just saw on facebook and therefore need to comment before my head pops.
2.  I was already irritated before I peeked at facebook because I was not looking forward to Christmas shopping, so I am probably extra ornery.
3.  Sometimes being extra ornery isn't a bad thing.

So here is what I saw on facebook today that set me off.  This comic was posted by a blogger (who will remain nameless) that I read occasionally, with the caption "Awesome."  

The Peanuts are awesome.  This comic, not so much.
Here's why this comic makes my head want to explode.

Just because something is quippy or funny does not mean it is true or worthy of sharing.  Facebook, and the internet in general, is a giant craphole of nonsense sometimes, and it bugs me when people who have a voice and really should know better are part of the problem.  The humor in something may be "awesome", but if it's misrepresentative of the truth, then it's rotten and should be squelched, not spread.

I am not going to sit here and pick apart every line of this comic.  I am mostly concerned by the fact that the scripture verses mentioned are grossly misrepresented.  These verses are not talking at all about "Christmas trees", they are talking about worshipping wooden idols.  The comic treats these verses like a big slam-dunk against ignorant, stupid Christians, when in reality it only takes someone to read the verses themselves to find out where the ignorance really lies (and this is not only apparent in a cursory reading, but is the consensus of orthodox biblical scholars through history).  If someone doesn't want to believe that the Bible is God's word, then that's their choice, and I support their right to make that choice.  But if they are going to quote from that very Bible to make a big "boo-ya" in the face of Christians everywhere, they really ought to get their facts straight.  We can disagree on whether or not God made the eggs, but the egg on their face is there all the same.   Unfortunately many people don't take the time to think about what they share, or if that author's face is covered in egg.  They just share it, and misinformation gets spread like wildfire, and that makes my head hurt.


Oh well.

I guess those Christmas gifts aren't going to buy themselves, so I better wrap this up (no pun intended).  But before I do, I must say this.   If you are sharing someone else's comic/video/news article/editorial, please, people, for the sake of my sanity and for the sake of all that is good and true and worthy of our precious time and thought and energy, I implore you.  Don't just hit "share", take a few minutes and think through what you are spreading.  Ask yourself: "how do I know this author's facts are legit?  Does this make sense logically?  Do I just like this because it bolsters what I already believe, or could this actually include valuable and trustworthy information that would be compelling to people who have a different opinion?  Am I completely sure I am not just spreading misinformation?"  If you don't answer those questions, and you share something, then you are to blame if it's a lie.   

I am a lover of debate and different ideas and I think that Christianity, like any other faith, deserves to be put under the microscope once in a while.  I actually support and encourage people to question their beliefs, whatever those beliefs are, because I believe that genuine questioning can lead to profound growth.  But, if what you have to bring to the table of ideas is someone else's misinformation that you haven't taken the time to examine or think through critically on your own, then until you have your own thoughts to discuss, please remember that sometimes sharing is a bad thing. 

*  *  *  *

 Oh, and in case anyone is interested in what Jeremiah 10:1-6 ACTUALLY says, here it is:

 1 Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the LORD,
   “Do not learn the way of the nations,
And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens
Although the nations are terrified by them;
3 For the customs of the peoples are [a]delusion;
Because it is wood cut from the forest,
The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool.
4 “They decorate it with silver and with gold;
They fasten it with nails and with hammers
So that it will not totter.
5 “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they,
And they cannot speak;
They must be carried,
Because they cannot walk!
Do not fear them,
For they can do no harm,
Nor can they do any good.”
 6 There is none like You, O LORD;
You are great, and great is Your name in might.

(When was the last time someone expected a Christmas tree to speak or walk?  Or do harm or good?  Or take the place of the Lord?  Hmmm.  Probably never.  Because it's not about Christmas trees.)



Glenn Sunshine said...

Christmas trees date to sixteenth century Germany, not before. They aren't pagan. Further, the association of Christmas with pagan holidays has been thoroughly debunked by historians. The level of nonsense on this subject is utterly breathtaking.

1249939e-229f-11e1-832d-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Believe what you want to believe, but the fact that most Christmas celebrations borrow some earlier pagen traditions is true.

Jess said...

Glenn, if you have some resources or articles on this topic, feel free to post links to them.

Randomized number person, I hope you'll check back to see if Glenn shares some resources. He is a nationally recognized historian and I'm pretty sure that if he makes such a point, it's not baseless. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

Glenn Sunshine said...

We'll start with It's a rather long article, but if you wade through it you will find a discussion of the scholarly argument for why Christmas was set on Dec. 25 and the problems with the traditional date. The article isn't flawless: it does mess up the Christmas tree, particularly because there weren't any Druids left in the late middle ages and the first recorded trees are sixteenth century. But random number is correct in one sense: many Christmas traditions do have their origin in paganism. That doesn't mean all do or that the date does, however.

Jess said...

Thanks for sharing this, Glenn! Look forward to checking it out. BTW, this conversation makes me think of Dave Silverman. Hehe.

Unknown said...

hey Jess! It's kind of ironic that I shared this post from Triberr without reading it first, just like you pointed out a lot of people post things without reading/really think about them first.
Then I read it and thought, Hmm..I actually dont totally agree! My husband and I tend to side with the blogger who posted the comic. *gasp* From what we have researched there are a lot of traditions surrounding Christmas that do come from pagan traditions, so for now we have decided not to get a Christmas tree or put up any decorations we think could have come from pagan rituals(like mistletoe.)
All this to say, this is our conviction at the moment. We're completely fine with others who choose to put up Christmas trees and I'm sorry that comic was offensive to you. I would hope the person posting it really didn't mean to offend you or other Christians.
I'm glad you posted this, I'm definitely going to read Glenn's article and take a deeper look into the topic. Thanks! :)

ps. this is Grace Cristo. I don't know why when I try and post the comment it says my name is "Unknown"

Jess said...

Hi Grace! Thanks for your comment. The thing that offended me (or I should really say irritated me, not offended... It takes a lot more than that to offend me) is the fact that the creator of the comic used a scripture verse completely incorrectly to make a point and then someone else just passed that along without even checking their facts. And I didn't say this in the post, but this was shared by a Christian blogger who has a pretty wide influence, and frankly, it was irresponsible for her to share a comic that unfairly misrepresents the very scripture that she supposedly believes in.

I don't really care if people put up Christmas trees or not (though I certainly think people who have objections to them for pagan reasons ought to check out what Glenn has to say, because if they aren't really pagan, then that would be good to know!). I do care, however, if people blatantly misrepresent what the Bible clearly states on a topic, and then if other people pass that misinformation along without even thinking - or looking - twice at it. I just think we all need to be more careful about doing such a thing, whether we are bloggers or just regular folks on facebook or whatever social networking site.

I fully support you and your husband celebrating in whatever way you feel is right. :o)

Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog. Have a merry Christmas!

1249939e-229f-11e1-832d-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Random number person again lol. That's the id it gave me when I tried to comment using an AOL name.

I'm an atheist and stumbled upon your blog last Christmas after your post about American Atheists and Santa. I do read it from time to time just because religion interests me. I do celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas and have a tree up myself.

I would argue that even though many Christmas traditions have pagan origins they are now Christian symbols. Look at it this way; the potato is a New World food and not native to Ireland. It was brought there and became popular. The potato is now highly associated with Ireland even though it isn't even a native food. You could say the same of the tomato and Italy!

Jess said...

Hey Random Number,

Makes me wish I knew your real name! So weird! LOL!

I think I probably agree with you about various symbols now having Christian meaning even if they started out as something different. I am happy to know that not everything has pagan roots, but personally I think that it's our relationship with God that has power anyway, not specific physical objects, so what we believe matters far more than whether someone a couple thousand years ago thought that some doohickey had one meaning and we think it has another, etc.

You are welcome to stop by anytime. Thanks for reading!