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Sunday, May 19, 2002

Edifier du jour-I'm reading Colossians 3 this morning, and it is a "target-rich environment." I've posted verses 1-2 and 11 before, so I'll go with Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
The virtues of verse 12 aren't prized too much in the Blogosphere. Compassion is a rare beast unless someone bears their soul in their words. An effective, cutting argument frequently puts kindness in the backseat. Despite the acronym IMHO, your opinion is rarely humble. A good Fisking is rarely gentle and we are not patient to allow the writer to correct or give nuance to his thoughts. There's a tendency to view other people's posts as just strings of words and forget that there is a person behind them. I recall being up at Eileen's one evening after giving a Krugman steaming pile a good once-over at lunch. Eileen wanted me to read an essay of hers on hunger from her seminary days. I proceeded to critique an economically-unsophisticated analysis of farm economics in her essay and would up hurting her feelings. I had forgotten two things. One is that Eileen doesn't have an econ degree and I was applying the same standards that I was using with economically-savvy writers. The second, and most important, was that Eileen is a living, breathing person who I am interacting with, not some big-shot writer who likely doesn't know I exist. This doesn't just apply to fiancées. A week ago, I had given a Hokie Pundit essay that tippy-toed into Universalist waters a full Fisking, forgetting that there's a smart, sensitive young guy at the other end. He seems to be hurt by the savage response I and others gave his essay. To honestly borrow from the FPOTUS, I feel his pain. We're supposed to "speak the truth in love" but we (try "I", Mark) frequently leave out the love part. We need to practice those virtues Paul wrote about in all our lives, including our lives on the keyboard. If we treat strangers hundreds and thousands of miles away over the ether with respect, we're more likely to treat our friends and neighbors with a bit more respect. I also need (help me, Lord) to try to get those attitudes to sink in for the long haul and not be sucked into the attack-mode writing that gets the quick kudos in the Blogosphere. This isn't the first time I've hurt someone’s feelings by a harsh post and it isn't the first time I've felt remorse over such a post. Let's try to develop those grace-ful virtues of verse 12-14. If we become kinder, gentler (stifle it, Bush 41 whackers), more humble and forgiving in our speech and writing, we'll have a better shot of having those virtues in the rest of our lives, letting the Holy Spirit be much more of a 24-7 presence in our lives.

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