I would like to thank the people over at TheologyWeb for the February 2010 screwball award. This is not an exclusive award but I am proud to accept it just the same. I think you win with just one vote, but anyway. Apparently there is a ceremony, but the details are sketchy. I have to wear a hat with a D on it and there is something funny about the cake. This award is short of being branded a heretic, but I am working up to that. Apparently my ideas are “screwy”, although you don’t get an explanation of exactly why you win a Screwball Award.
If you have never been to TheologyWeb (and why would you?), be prepared. The experience is similar to one I had when I picked up a “Teen” magazine once when I was about 35, just out of curiosity. I didn’t get most of the slang and very few of the cultural references. I was led to, well misled to, TheologyWeb by a post that I linked to in an earlier blog. It is a large discussion forum with 2,769 active members at last count and millions of posts. But surprisingly there is a lack of diversity.
Discussion forums allow people of opposing views to come together in ways that are not possible elsewhere. They are as much a cultural leap as Jazz radio was back in the 20’s and 30’s. You know the people you are talking to can’t harm you physically, and it is public only to those in the forum or those who know who you really are behind the screen name, so there is little risk of your neighbor hearing something you said and judging you for it. However, with a lot of time on their hands, a few members can dominate a forum just by making long winded posts and diverting your threads off topic. Also, there is something called a “Troll”, look it up before diving in.
It started when I began a discussion on homosexuality. With all the church rulings changing as well as secular laws, I wondered what people’s personal experiences were. I got one private message from someone who said they no longer brought up the issue at this forum, and the rest, well you can guess. At least one homosexual, and a few reformed alcoholics did come out of the woodwork but even they had adopted more fundamentalist views. I tried to avoid it, but eventually I had to switch to a discussion of how to you determine what is moral. It really wasn’t a discussion at all.
What helped win the award, I think, was someone who made a somewhat personal statement about how I must feel about the discussion we were having. Normally you stay away from that in discussion forums because personal statements open you up to personal attacks. So you have to decide in advance that you just don’t care. I responded with a “thanks” for their concern.
At my worst moments, I agreed with another forum member that my main debate opponent was “cherry picking” bible verses. At my best, I put in a link to Romans 13:8-10 and talked about love. This is a not a cherry picked verse by the way, the whole of the book of Romans supports this verse, and some things Jesus as well as early Popes and Rabbis said. Oops, there I go being screwy again. We can discuss that over at TheologyWeb if you’d like.