The current state of discourse in this nation makes me want to put on the Bose headsets and resurface in mid-November. The internet can be a wonderful tool but too many writers have chosen to use the tool only as a chainsaw or hammer. I wrote a piece pleading for grace in the debate. After grace my next biggest gripe is the lack of accuracy in the debate.
This quote from George Eliot is not in the Beatitudes but Jesus might have thought about including it.
"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact."
Might I add blessed is the man or woman who takes a moment to confirm as fact what they forward as fact. May I suggest that forwarded e-mails are not the greatest source of truth available to mankind. The automatic forwarding of e-mail warnings is a real pet peeve of mine. About every other week I have to send an e-mail to a wonderfully well intentioned friend to let them know that they are forwarding a half-truth or flat out lie. I feel a little uncomfortable when I do that because I know it is embarrassing to them. And I have to be honest that once you have wasted my time by forwarding a untrue e-mail I am likely to send your next effort to cyber purgatory.
For Christians this is an important issue. When we forward false information it can (and often does) do damage to the image of Christianity and to the very name of Christ. It makes Christians appear lazy and uninformed (restraint Dave…easy). How about the poor receptionist who fields thousands of irate calls for something that is not even valid like the FCC hoax mentioned below? By the way, you would be amazed at the less than godly content of some of these calls.
Here are just a few of the hoaxes that crossed my inbox in recent months.
ACLU objects to Marines Praying – False. The ACLU causes enough problems without making stuff up.
Al Gore calls Christians blight on environment – False. The quote is fabricated.
Harry Potter was written to recruit children to witchcraft – False.
James Dobson is pleading for our help because of a petition to stop the reading of the gospel over public broadcasting outlets – False.
This has been dead since 1975 but continually gets repackaged and reforwarded. And when it does the Federal Communications Commission must field thousands of calls and e-mails (at taxpayers expense).
A couple of recent political forwards that concerned citizens sent without checking:
And on the other side of the aisle:
Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin Banned Books-Fiction!
Sarah Palin NRA Poster Girl?-Fiction! (no link on this one…it is too tacky)
Here are my requests and suggestions (forward these to five friends and you might win something from somebody)
1) Be naturally suspicious. Your credibility is at stake.
2) Verify the story. Check before you forward. Please.
3) Be gracious.
5) Apply Proverbs 2:11 to your cyber-ministry. Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you.
James has a nice little take on wisdom.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3, NIV)
I could go on but I just received a personal note from a doctor in Nigeria. He needs my help and he promised me 5 million dollars. Don’t worry, I’ll tithe!
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.
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