Contrary to popular belief ministers—Catholic and Protestant alike—are allowed to have interests or even hobbies that involve topics outside of the church or even religion for that matter. For example, I have a passing interest in observing trends in our culture and for the last several months have been subscribing to blogs as well as YouTube® channels that deal with Minimalism which is defined as the emerging popular lifestyle in which participants liquidate or divest themselves of extensive and seemingly indulgent homes and materialistic lifestyles in favor of a more simpler, minimal existence. In some cases they sell their large homes in the suburbs and move into tiny homes or apartments utilizing the bare minimum of personal possessions. (Click here for more information on Tiny or Small house movement)
Perhaps a movement that encourages its participants to turn away from materialistic lifestyles that are not only detrimental to the environment but to the spirit as well would be one that all concerned ministers should follow from a doctrinal perspective; in my case its more personal interest than it is one of a religious nature, just a desire to watch and observe from afar what might be the grassroots movement that changes a culture, but I digress.
In locating relative video bloggers on YouTube® I stumbled across one that is documenting his back to the basics lifestyle of homesteading in the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest, ostensibly turning his (and his family’s) back on the modern suburban life. In doing so he apparently has mentioned in his video blogs that he and his family embraces and applies Christian principles to their way of life; in doing so he (also) apparently opened himself up to attack from the hoards that inhabit the dark recesses of the internet commonly referred to as (internet) trolls which might be described as those that gain some sort of demonic pleasure from using a pseudonym or false identity and while hiding behind this façade vehemently attack others such as the homesteader in question.
Some of these video bloggers or vloggers purposefully or inadvertently use a video style similar to reality television as they document—not just topics relative to the discussion—but large aspects of their personal lives as well; in this case the vlogger shared a segment in which he and his son were admiring a “hot” car which as he admitted was way out of his budget as well as something he would never purchase should he have the ability to do so, he simply just admired the car as anyone of the rest of us might. Unfortunately including this segment gave his detractors the ammunition they needed to attack this poor young man. In the comment section of his YouTube® page they criticized him for his “un-Christian” acts of lusting after a material item, to which he in turn posted a brief video titled; “Christians” Leave the Meanest Comments. In his defense I sympathize with him but find that his attackers were not Christian as they obviously have little or no knowledge of core Christian principles. Certainly when a Christian sees a brother stumbling he or she doesn’t go on the attack like a shark in a feeding frenzy but rather the Christian gently and constructively points out to the person stumbling his error and then helps him to recover.
In online forums, various social media and comment sections of all sorts of media on the ‘net, each and every day we see this drama play out, a Christian makes a comment and several trolls who feed on their unreasonable hatred of all things Christian immediately attack him or her using what they feel are Christian talking points in an attempt to destroy his sense of well being. In the case we are referring to as an example the demonically inspired trolls rhetorically asked what kind of Christian are you that lusts after material (the car) possessions? In this case as in most they demonstrated a lack of knowledge of doctrinal positions common to most Christian denominations. It simply is not a sin or un-Christian to admire an material object except maybe in the most regressive cults of Christianity; even the Amish openly admire and comment on nice cars and trucks even though they obviously would never trade their horse and buggy for such. The state of sin arises when the admiration becomes an obsession that leads to other sins such as stealing or idolatry; in the case of the latter the state of worshiping the material object or placing it before God. In our example case we find that one of the goals of the trolls was to cast a negative light on the Christian faith by making the comment section reader perceive Christians as haters and unreasonable, most who have a knowledge of core Christian principles would recognize the words of the attackers as coming from an author who is otherwise ignorant of contextual scripture and its application; however many readers simply dismiss the trolls posing as Christians as hate filled Christians.
Admittedly we in the clergy have failed to properly disciple or train our “sheep” in regard to evangelizing the faith as well as the basic understanding of Christian doctrine and thought not to mention the application of such in marinating the Christina lifestyle. Often we as Christians appear as hypocrites—in some cases we are guilty as charged—however in many cases the scripture or biblical teaching used to condemn us is totally taken out of context.
In a perfect world the aspiring Christian would take the time to study and understand all aspects of the faith and belief system; this in itself would take away one major tool of the internet trolls whose only agenda is to destroy all vestiges of morality and religion in America.