Think Before You Tweet: Tweet Rage

September 7th, 2011

Welcome to Spirit Wednesday where we take a look at all things spiritual from meditation to prayer to cleaning the house. Yes, even house work can be a spiritual experience… if you choose to see it that way.

“Be angry, and don’t sin.”– Ephesians 4:26 World English Bible

 twitter photoThis is one thing I have a hard time doing. When I get angry I have a very hard time expressing myself constructively. For instance, if someone tailgates me or passes just so they can turn off at the next road, thereby making me slow down, I have been known to call the driver names. That is not good role modeling for my daughter, I know, but when we get angry it’s tough not to do or say something destructive.

While road rage is the most common display of anger, it’s not the only one. Anger can cause us to be rude to others in a myriad of ways, including tweeting that unintentionally hurts others. It’s called tweet rage. Take this example:

@Syfy We don’t watch #wwe #ghosthunters, #taps, #destinationtruth. We are mature scifi fans w/ $$$ and you have lost us by canceling #eureka

This person is trying to express their disappointment in the Syfy channel’s decision to cancel their favorite show, Eureka. I understand their frustration because I enjoy the show, too. However, if you know about hashtags (#), then you can see that this tweet went to everyone who follows #wwe #ghosthunters, #taps, and #destinationtruth. I am one of those followers.

I am neither immature, nor poor. This tweeter inadvertantly labels anyone who enjoys those shows as such. My natural reaction was to jump in to harass the tweeter and defend my other favorite show on Syfy. Neither reaction would have been productive. Any kind of retaliation like road rage or tweet rage rarely is. If I had chosen to do that I would have “sinned in my anger” as this person had.

Being angry is natural. It’s a healthy reaction to negative stimuli. It’s what we do while we’re angry that matters most. Not reacting negatively, not being rude or obnoxious, is perhaps the most difficult thing a person can do when they’re angry, but I think it makes for a better world when we meet that challenge head on.

When have you been in a situation that made you angry? What did you do? What were the consequences?

The Doubting Thomas Effect

March 30th, 2011

One of my favorite shows is Ghost Hunters. Before I discovered this fave, I used to love watching all types of “reality” shows that dealt with the paranormal. Now, not so much. In fact, most of them make me laugh until I cry.

What happened?

I’m glad you asked. The basis of a TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society aka Ghost Hunters) investigation is to disprove the supposed haunting on any given case. Their reasoning is that, if you can debunk most of the claims, whatever’s left that has no explanation is evidence of a haunting. Notice they don’t say evidence of a ghost, just evidence that something beyond the norm is happening.

While I don’t fully understand what some of their gizmos do and I don’t always hear the “voices” they catch on audio, I do appreciate their way of debunking claims and their reliance on evidence they’ve captured on audio or video. Unfortunately, that has sucked the enjoyment out of all those other paranormal “reality” shows I used to watch. Now I look for ways to debunk the “evidence” those other shows put forward.

So what does TAPS, and ghost hunting in general, have to do with Doubting Thomas from scripture or us today?

There is a fine line between healthy skepticism and rigid unbelief.

Without a little skepticism we can be easily led astray, perhaps even as far as being inducted into a cult. If you have a firm foundation of what is normal, then things that are unusual stand out. With a little testing and some common sense, you can see for yourself if it’s a genuine claim of something spiritual or just a loose nut.

However, if our beliefs hinge on only what we can know through our 5 senses, then we miss many of the subtle messages God sends us every day. In fact, we may even buy into the idea that “God helps those who help themselves.” (Algernon Sydney 1698) Nowhere in the Bible does it say that. If anything, God is the one we can (and need to) count on most.

Praying isn’t what’s difficult. Believing our prayers will be answered is.

And yet that is what we’re asked to do.

God asks us to go beyond being a Doubting Thomas and believe in a life God has planned, a life full of meaning and depth. To do that we must hold onto a healthy skepticism to weigh what’s going on around us, compare it to what God has said in scripture and what we feel is right in our gut.

We must also let go of our rigid unbelief and get past the need to disprove everything because sometimes, as TAPS points out, after we’ve debunked what we can we’re left with evidence… of God.