A concern troll chimed in today and informed us that our usage of the term ‘concern troll’ wasn’t correct. As we’ve explained over the years, we have our own house definition. Other online forums use the same policy and it is defined by sites like 'Urban Dictionary,' but it's usually like the third definition down and most people don't read that far.
See, the thing is, with a community this large it simply isn’t possible to please everyone all the time, especially when discussing religion and politics from a progressive point of view.
The Christian Left ministry and community is for people who truly WANT to be here. The key word being 'want.' We are not a drive-by page. We aren't a debate page. We're a page and a forum for Christian progressives and their allies. We are a haven for people who have been beat up by The "Christian" Right. Our community is a safe place for people who have had to read those stupid emails all there lives that insult liberals and any politician that isn't a Republican.
All of this being the case, for our purposes a ‘concern troll’ is someone who engages behavior similar to the following example, "I really love your page BUT, I’m really concerned about (blah, blah, blah, blah) that you are doing," or, "(blah, blah, blah, blah) that you are not doing the way I think it should be done." It then devolves into something along the lines of, "You need to take down this post," or "You need to stop doing that. It isn’t very Christian." We could continue with the variants of concern troll statements ad nauseam.
Some critics would call what we have an 'echo chamber.' So be it. We are what we are, and we make no apologies. There are many echo chambers out there these days. Fox "News" is one big one. Besides, everyone has a right to have a haven. Lecturing us is like an abusive partner busting into a battered women's shelter and proclaiming, "This place is nothing but an echo chamber!"
We don't mind if someone imparts friendly knowledge to us about something in a civil manner. There's a big difference between that and concern trolling. If something is a matter of opinion, correcting someone about it is probably concern trolling. People are welcome to share their opinion on any topic as long as they are civil and polite. After that they should move on to the next topic. Their opinion will be noted for everyone to see. We must emphasize this point again, we aren't a debate forum.
Some may not find this policy agreeable to them. They have feel like they are in charge of what we do and we must run the page the way they see fit. Sorry, that isn't going to happen. No one is forced to be here. If our policy isn't agreeable to you, you are invited to go in peace.
Concern trolling is disruptive to the community and ends up crippling online forums to the point of being catatonic and ineffective, basically disabling them carrying out their mission. We’re not going to let that happen here. That’s why we initiated our trolling policy 13 years ago and included our variant of concern trolling. We ask that if you don’t like a post or something we say or do, please scroll on by to the next post. Again, there’s no way we can please all people, all the time. Thanks.
Gestures obscured because social media companies are random and unpredictable with regard to what they will sanction you over. You just never know.
Last week we posted an article from Politico titled, “Barbershop Confrontations, Profane Signs and Despair: Pro-Biden and Alone in Rural America" (Politico.com)
"Rural Democrats suffer in silence, abandoned by a party that they fear has stopped fighting to win the places where they live."
It’s no surprise to us that it hit home with a large segment of The Christian Left community. We’ve known people described in the article have been underserved for decades. We felt isolated and underserved ourselves. It’s one of the biggest reasons we started this ministry 13 years ago.
One of our members posted a lengthy comment in the thread below the article. It spoke to us and many others because it describes so well what so many of us go through on a regular basis. We obtained permission from the author of the comment to repost it on our blog withholding the person’s name for obvious reasons. Here it is:
[Beginning Of Member Comment]
"I live in what I refer to as the ‘reddest neck of the woods’ in rural Alabama. This article hit home with me. I am a full-time caregiver for my ill and disabled parents. Sometimes we think we’re the only Democrats in this town and the only liberal Christians who live here.
We lost our housekeeper and all of our other home care people because they refuse to get vaccinated. My father is 78 with advanced Parkinson's, and my mother is 75 with advanced MS. My mom is totally crippled and bed/wheelchair bound. I have limited use of one hand, and although we are all vaccinated 3 times and boosted, I am the sole person caring for my parents. We can’t get safe healthcare workers here.
I could tell you plenty of horror stories about things medical staff and others have said to us. A nurse from ‘home health’ went out of her way to call and harass my mom with anti-vaccine talking points. Her doctor put us at risk for COVID by being careless about exposure. We have been called ‘demon rats’ by family members. Our concern about the pandemic in 2020 was met with, “If you have the blood of Jesus, you need not fear dying.” We’ve being called 'baby-killers' and had Q-anonsense shoved down our throats from some at local businesses. We have no friends and we are estranged from family over deep political divisions and more.
Take a guess WHY none of them will get vaccinated, and why so few in this area are. Why all the hate? Why we are shunned? Five letters, starting with a T and ending with a rump. He made it OK for them to display their thoughts and actions in full view of everyone. Confederate flags fly high on houses next to Trump 2020 and American flags. We wanted to put up a Biden sign in 2020 but we were terrified of arson or being shot if it was on our car. It is horrible.
Much of the time I am stressed beyond belief and worried about taking care of all three of us, but my faith is what keeps me going. We wish we could move but we cannot at this time. All of the churches in town are very legalistic and evangelical. I am in contact with a caring liberal-minded church in the next county, a half hour away. Right now I watch virtual services but hope I can find some like-minded connections there.
It’s a challenge for us mostly because of how the disregard for the pandemic prevents us from getting safe medical help. Most here have always viewed COVID as a 'hoax to rig the 2020 election.' Still, we stand our ground because we believe that God is Love and Christ is about being kind to others. Any form of hate will never have a place in our home. Sorry for this post being so long but this article resonated very deeply with our experience. My prayers are with anyone else dealing with this kind of situation."
[End Of Member Comment]
There's not much more to add to something like that. It touches our souls because it is so very tragic. We wish we could say it was an isolated incident but we know it's not. It's the norm in 'Red America.'
That's why this ministry is so important and why we need your support today. We need as much support as we can get so we can expand our outreach in the service of people who suffer alone with little or no support from those around them. There's a lot more we could do. This is important. We have to have the financial backing to do it. Make a contribution today and sign up to make it monthly. Be a sustaining member of this ministry. We serve people like the person who wrote about their experience above.
Click here to make a secure contribution.
-- The Christian Left
Most of our members loved our Ukraine designs and the intention behind them. We stated up front that for every item purchased we would contribute $5 to the 'Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund,' by Global Giving, a verified charity recommended by NBC. The fund serves affected communities as well as refugees.
Nevertheless, a small handful of people were very, very, very concerned. We will explain, and hopefully any deep, dark concerns will be alleviated. But first, we must make an observation.
After dedicating the past 13 years to this ministry, working 12 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, we're qualified to point out a few faults with our own kind. We set up this ministry because we are Christian progressives ourselves and back in 2009 we felt dramatically underserved in terms of online resources, or any other resources for that matter. We decided we would 'be the change we wanted to see in the world.' We dedicated our lives to serving this community, fellow Christian progressives and their allies.
After well over a decade of service we have to point out a very big flaw among too many in our community, rampant, knee-jerk, vicious judgmentalism. That's right. You heard correctly. Rampant. Knee-jerk. Vicious. Judgmentalism. It's an awful problem among progressives and we all need to do some serious reflection about it. For one thing it's 100% contrary to what Jesus taught. You know, that guy we all claim to follow? The guy at the center of our faith?
Liberals and progressives are WAY too quick to assume the worst, jump ALL over the perceived offending party, label them with broad, unfair and unrealistic generalizations, and castigate, cancel and ghost them. We've seen it happen over and over again. Mind you, not everyone among our kin is this way. A small but vocal segment seems to think they speak for all of us, and they get out front with their bullhorns.
Anyway, enough said in terms of describing the problem. To go on much more would be harping. It's a problem. It's a big problem, and if we don't address it as a community-wide issue it will continue to diminish our effectiveness at achieving our goals.
Now, about the $5 per item sold. By the time we pay for the shirts, pay to have them printed, pay to have them shipped, and contribute $5 to the Ukraine fund, do you know how much is left? Pennies. Pennies per item. We take those pennies and put them in our design fund, so we can pay designers to design things for us that are too complicated for our capabilities. When we hire designers we hire them locally from Craigslist. 100% of the time they are starving artists.
So, there you have it. It's a cycle that allows us to make some cool stuff for the community we serve, create jobs for t-shirt makers, printers, shippers and designers, contribute funds to charities, and continue to do it all again another day.
For that effort we were told by a few that 'It made them SICK, that we were PROFITING FROM WAR!' On, and on, and on. Please. Get real. Calm down, get a grip, and get off your high horse of judgement when you don't have the foggiest clue what you are talking about. Quit being so quick to judge. And quit being so vicious. Quit assuming the worst. It's one of the things the right hates about us, and we deserve it for tolerating it among our ranks.
As progressives and liberals we go around all the time lecturing our brethren on the right about judgmentalism, with regard to a host of issues from a woman's choice, to equality for people of color, to freedom and acceptance for the LGBTQA+ community. What does that make us when we turn around and act all judgmental? It makes us hypocrites, that's what, in no uncertain terms. And don't think for one second that they don't see it. It's one of the biggest complaints they have about us. We harp, and harp, and hard about being judgmental ... then we turn around and act all judgmental. Jesus spoke of that kind of behavior. It's important enough to publish the entire parable right here. It goes to the heart of the matter.
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Matthew 18:21-35 NIV
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
At the heart of the lessons Jesus taught is treating others the way we would want to be treated in any given situation. Our orders are to love our neighbors as we do ourselves. That means actually doing what Paul defined as love in 1 Corinthians 13. He calls on us 'not to be proud, not to dishonor others or be easily angered, to keep no record of wrongs, not to delight in evil but rejoice with the truth, to always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere.' It's a tall order. We can't always trust all the time, but we can refrain from assuming the worst about someone right out of the gates, from jumping down their throats and throwing them under the bus based on wild, knee-jerk assumptions that are often the furthest thing from the truth.
Alright, we've said enough again. The fact is that while this is a big problem in the progressive community it isn't universal by any means. 95% of the interaction we've had with our progressive Christian brothers and sisters over the past 13 years has been positive. This has been a rewarding experience for us emotionally and spiritually in a manner far exceeding the negative aspects we must endure. That's why we keep coming back every day.
There you have it. We've said what needed to be said. If we see any further comments from anyone stating that we 'make them SICK by profiting from war,' we'll post this blog. Hopefully they'll take the time to read it.
On a closing note, we worked hard to make a contribution to the global outcry against Putin's invasion of Ukraine and the global effort to help those devastated by his actions. We came up with some cool designs. Now that you know the whole story you should pick something up. (Images of designs below)
Design One: https://bit.ly/tcl-stand-with-ukraine
Design Two: https://bit.ly/tcl-i-stand-with-ukraine
Design Three: https://bit.ly/tcl-stand-w-ukraine
Design Four: https://bit.ly/tcl-pray-for-ukraine
Design Five: https://bit.ly/tcl-praying-for-ukraine
-- The Christian Left
Close-ups of the designs below. They're pretty cool.
Never the kind to pass up an opportunity to impart hard-fought wisdom, we must make one final observation for today. It's on-topic, i.e., the faults of our own kind, progressives, so here it is.
Again, while not a universal trait by any means, it's noteworthy to point out that the left can be a bit stingy sometimes. They can be a tad selfish when it comes to the contribution of financial resources to the causes they believe in. Like we point out often, we've been at this full-time for 13 years. After all that time we still operate on a shoestring budget with a skeleton crew. A percentage of our members have in fact been generous over the years, enough so that we've been able to hang on by the skin of our teeth.
It's worth noting that we've never had a single problem with the security of online donation system. Not a single one in 13 years.
We're not in this to get wealthy, and we are far from it. We struggle to stay afloat most of the time. If we ever get ahead of the game with resources we have plans sitting on the drawing board to expand our activities.
It's one of the things the right is better at than the left. They support the things they believe in with passion and extreme generosity, as ill-guided as they may be most of the time.
So, please, make a contribution to our effort. Sign up to make it monthly. Hit the 'Donate' button at the top of this blog and be a sustaining member. There's more on what we do inside that link. Incidentally, we pay our taxes. We're not a nonprofit. We decided that a long time ago because we don't want to be limited in what we can say or do and we're not going to be dishonest about any of it.
About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.