Thursday, September 15, 2011


Yesterday, under comment moderation, I stopped a comment from one of the blogosphere's trolls. He wrote, "Your church is pathetic...".

Now, I have no idea what he/she means by that. It is not the first time I have seen the identical comment, here in comment moderation and on other blogs who let trolls run free for a limited time until they get boring.

There are a number of ways in which the trolls mean our church, or the church, or Christianity, is pathetic. The first is the camp that adheres to the belief that satan has taken over all the churches in Christendom and we are all damned, but that we clergy still have work to do, in that we are to preach relentlessly that satan is running the churches, you are all damned, and there is absolutely no way for you and me to be saved. That's troll #1.

The next meaning is directed specifically at The Episcopal Church, in that we are pathetic because we have abandoned scripture by embracing gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual and other people as beloved children of God, with a claim on salvation equal to that of those of us who are heterosexual and that we find it in our hearts to bless same sex unions and even marriages. For this troll we are pathetic because we delude ourselves into thinking TEC will grow when actually the trolls' job is to demoralize us into believing that our embrace of all people including gays and lesbians and heterosexuals will cause everyone to abandon us until we disappear completely from the earth.

A third troll is a subset of the second. Our embrace of all people, this troll shouts (yes, it is possible to shout even with the written word!) is a lie, that we are uniformly lily white and European and we don't really want people of any other culture or race in our churches and no one of another culture or race would want to be in our lily white churches. To which the congregation I serve would express great surprise, especially those from Caribbean countries and Africa and Central and South America who not worship with Europeans but continually shape and change who and what we are as Christians.

A fourth troll is the kind that believes individual churches are pathetic - ie the church I serve. For this troll we are wasting our time trying to keep our doors open for the sake of - well, anything. Hence, this troll feels nothing but scorn.

And the fifth troll scorns Christianity as a whole as delusional and even dangerous as well as a waste of time.

From the word "pathos", meaning "a quality, as of an experience, that arouses feelings of pity, sympathy, tenderness, sorrow, or compassion, or the feeling itself, so aroused".

Thanks be to God my church is pathetic. May we continue to grow in pathos all the days of our life, as we continue to ask ourselves what God is doing here and how we can join God in that ongoing work.

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