Please Stop Throwing Grenades: Thoughts on Polarity, Truth, Wisdom, and Not Being So Pokey on the Internet

It’s exhausting to be on the Internet these days.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed feels like navigating a war zone. With every click I cringe and prepare to pull shrapnel from my not thick skin.

[I know, I know. I should get off. But that’s not so easy for a blogger.]

My problem is less with the world being its inevitable fallen self and more with Christians—good-hearted, well-meaning Christians—who, like an annoying little brother, can’t seem to refrain from saying every thing they think about everything, tossing accusations into crowds like candy from a parade float.

Or like grenades…

I wonder how we found the time and space for so many quarrels that matter so little.

I worry we’ve made all of life into a quarrel, every decision an either/or. We can’t talk about anything important without arguing a side.

We see it in politics, a nation painted in blue and red, hardly even in shades.

We see it in parenting—attachment vs Baby Wise. breast vs bottle, home school vs public.

We see it in churches—Armenian or Calvinist, Amillenialist or Pre-Millenialist, Liberal or Conservative…

As if truth is tidy and always on the far end of a spectrum.

Here’s a simple example:

I read a status recently that said (in effect), “Stop posting so many pictures of your kids on Facebook. That’s inauthentic and self-aggrandizing and you’re missing your life.” I think there’s a grain of truth in that. I think we can photograph our children in an effort to fake happiness.

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But it’s not true, not fully. Not when you know people who struggled for years to have children and who’re now giddily photographing every moment of a life they feel beyond blessed to parent. Or when you meet a friend who prays through her kids’ photos daily, photos she takes to remind herself of every God-given blessing, photos she shares out of joy, joy put in her heart by the Holy Spirit.

[I didn’t find a meme for that.]

Things, even simple things, are not always so easy to put in boxes.

Wisdom isn’t found in polarity, in screaming our ideas through a megaphone from one end zone to another. The wise man listens to all the voices, allowing them to commingle and cooperate, sorting them, pulling what’s good, discarding what’s bad.

Wisdom is thoughtful, measured, and often quiet, rarely found in the hyperbolic titles of online articles.

Meaningful discussions of important ideas require context, compassion and relationship. They allow for two things to BOTH be true.

So that homeschooling AND public schooling can both be good for the kingdom of God.

So that investing in small businesses AND investing in welfare can both be ways to love the poor.

So that kids who play games on tablets AND kids who’ve never touched a tablet can both grow into upstanding citizens and terrific human beings.

So that eating raw foods AND eating “regular” food can both be done in ways that honor God with our bodies.

So that people worried about men lusting AND people worried about women feeling shame can both appreciate and endorse healthy modesty.

We realize this when we stop accusing one another and start listening, when we stop injuring one another with our too-sharp words, aiming instead to understand.

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My most popular blog posts have been the ones with punchy titles.

And I hate that.

But for a while I decided that’s just what I had to do.

So I accused you of not loving God.

And I tricked you into thinking maybe I didn’t like Sunday morning church.

I used the word “Sexy.”

And I called Peyton Manning a loser. To great effect.

It tires me to think that titles must be aggressive to be effective. But that’s what I’ve seen.

Back when I first started using Facebook, people would “poke” me. I never really knew what that meant. I figured, like Eve poking my shoulder at lunch, they wanted my attention.

But poking is the worst way to get attention. It’s annoying. And it hurts the people we’re trying to reach.

People don’t use the actual poke feature as much anymore. But they definitely still poke.

I’ve been known to poke.

And I’m going to stop.

Because injury incites injury and inhibits communication. Because oversimplification isn’t truth. And because life isn’t about picking sides.

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As it is impossible to represent truth fully in any short blog post, here are two things I said that are both true and not true:

"As if truth is tidy"—Sometimes truth is tidy. Often it’s not.

"Because life isn’t about picking sides."—In a way it is. The purpose of life, it could be argued, is to align ourselves with God’s side. Of course, that means choosing good over evil, love over hate, peace over violence. In that way, life is definitely about picking sides.

See? This truth thing is tricky.