Today, for Catholics, is Mercy Sunday. It is a time for remembering and celebrating the mercy of God. And for reflecting on how we should show mercy to others.
This has gotten me to thinking about Twitter. I love Twitter. I have "met" (if you can call it that) many wonderful people there.
When I first started using Twitter, I naturally followed some Catholic and Christian stay-at-home mom types. I figured we would have things in common. I also followed some artsy people -- cinematographers and directors and actors and producers and writers. I find that world quite fascinating, even though I don't consider myself to be very creative. And most of the people I have encountered on Twitter have been delightful and kind and funny and interesting. I have greatly enjoyed their "company."
I am going to describe an interesting experience I had, though. I hope nobody takes this as an insult, or anything. It is just an experience I had that caused me to reflect, and I think it is relevant to the whole idea of mercy.
Around election time, back in the fall, many people's opinions were being tossed around all over Twitter. There were liberal opinions and conservative opinions and moderate opinions. Of course, being a Catholic, I was reading opinions of the other Catholic and Christian stay-at-home moms. I was also being exposed to the opinions of the people those moms were listening to, by virtue of the "retweet" option on Twitter. And some of those opinions had to do with a young lady by the name of Lena Dunham. She had done an ad for the Obama campaign, the aim of which was to encourage young people to vote. She compared voting for the first time to having sex for the first time.
And the Catholic and Christian and conservative people pretty much went apoplectic over this ad. Interested by their vociferous Tweets, I Googled the ad and watched it for myself. And I giggled. Well, I pretty much laughed really, really hard.
I then went back and sent a Tweet to a couple of the Catholic ladies telling them that I thought the ad was kind of funny. I didn't mean any offense, or anything. Then hell proceeded to rain down upon me from the Catholic/conservative corners of the Twittersphere. I sort of didn't expect that. I thought we could all have our opinions and be respectful of each other. I thought we could try to see each others points of view. I thought we could all have a SENSE OF HUMOR. Well, I was wrong.
I felt sort of bad for making these poor moms stressed out with my opinion of Lena's ad. A lot of these moms have many kids and homeschool and are quite tired, so I didn't intend to further complicate their lives with my obviously misguided thoughts.
This whole thing got me thinking, though, about kindness and mercy. Especially where Christians are concerned.
Now, as a Christian, I probably have most of the same ideas about sexual morals as these people who fired their Missiles Of Righteous Wrath down on me. And how did these Missiles Of Righteous Wrath make me feel? On the one hand, I was kind of amused. On the other hand, I felt a little angry. Why? Because, as Christians, we have to think about how our words and actions and attitudes towards people -- even actors -- will affect them. If you hope that somebody will come to see and feel God's love, it is not helpful if you just shit (pardon my French) all over that person and his/her opinions. I mean, if I were Lena and I read some of the stuff religious people were saying about me and my ad, I would just think to myself, "Screw those self-righteous people. Long live the HHS mandate!" I would not be thinking about how I really wanted to go to Church now and socialize with all the Church people at their Church festival. I would get as far away as I possibly could from them and all their self-righteous ways. And, as I recall, Jesus himself did not care too much for the self-righteous, for the hypocrites. In fact, he tended to go to a lot of parties with a lot of people who were probably a lot like Lena Dunham. Because -- you know what? People like that are the people with the hearts yearning for love. They are the people with the open hearts. They are the people who yearn for fairness and justice. They are also a lot of fun. And I think Jesus liked to have fun, or he wouldn't have been going to all these parties.
Please don't misunderstand me here. I am NOT saying that you should be kind to people, that you should befriend them, because you want to convert them. That is NOT what I am saying. I have had people befriend me for that reason and, trust me, it did not feel good. That is not friendship. A friendship is based on mutual acceptance. It is unconditional. It exists in spite of differences. It respects and appreciates differences.
So, saying that, I hope my little diatribe has not been too offensive. And may we all reflect, on this beautiful Feast of Mercy, on how we can be a little kinder, a little more loving -- a little more merciful.
P.S. -- If you look at the people I follow on Twitter, in order to find the offending parties written about herein, you will not succeed.