Thursday, January 17, 2013

Filch my Name

"Who steals my purse steals trash. 'Tis something, 'tis nothing...

"But he that filches from me my good name

Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed."
(Othello Act 3, scene 3)

Recently, someone who is very dear to our family became the target of a malicious and vindictive cyber-bullying attack. Creating a fake online identity, the abuser stalked their unsuspecting victim, leaving scathingly derogatory comments on pictures and sending emails of slander, innuendo, and bald-faced lies to friends and family of the target. And a hate-filled, venomous personal note sent directly to the target.

With a (different) fake name and email address, a letter was sent to the target's employer, filled with false accusations intended to get the target fired and probably banned from that line of work for life.

It was vicious and without excuse, but grimly effective nonetheless.

The quote from Shakespeare's Othello sums it up very nicely: the perpetrator gains nothing (beyond deriving some twisted sense of temporary pleasure), but the person whose name (reputation) has been filched (stolen) loses much.

We call it cyber-bullying or harassment these days, but its roots are as old as human speech: gossip. It is listed as one of the things that the Lord "detests" (Proverbs 6:16-19), and has been famously identified as one of the Seven Deadly Sins. And for good reason.

"A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends."
(Proverbs 16:28 NLT)

Destroying a person's reputation through deceit, manipulation, and gossip is just plain EVIL.


But wait! How did people respond to the lies and innuendo? Did they doubt the victim? Believe the slander? Stand at a distance, influenced by the old ruse "well, where there's smoke, there's probably fire..."?

In what has been one of the most unexpected and heart-warming outcomes that could be hoped for, everyone rallied around the devastated victim and refused to be taken in by the abuser.

The fake online identity was reported, and within just a few hours, was gone. The victim's inbox became jammed full of words of encouragement, prayers, and affirmations of their Godly character. Local friends went out of their way to encourage and pray. Pastors and older Christian friends spoke words of comfort and encouragement.

And the tables were completely reversed.

People chose to shut their ears to gossip, rebuke (report) the abuser, and rally around the target of the gossip campaign. Instead of becoming suspicious or wary, they stood firm on the character of the person they knew. They shone light into darkness, and as is always the case, darkness fled.
"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." (Psalm 141:3)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Jolly Ruckus

Yes, it's true. I never really get tired of the sights, sounds, vibe, and adventure which commences when a new band begins rehearsing:
  • hours sitting at the kitchen table, transposing multiple tablatures into new key signatures
  • learning a rather large pile of new songs (did I mention transposing into new key signatures?)
  • the admixture of new friends, musical styles, and direction
  • mounting pressure due to an impending debut (nine days!)
  • the fun, hilarity, and sense of satisfaction as it all begins to gel

The past couple of months have brought some very interesting additions to our lives here in the Okanagan Valley:
  1. On the financial front, God has opened up an opportunity for me to work at a local grocery store, which is a huge blessing in off-setting the gap between our support as missionaries and the cost of living. It's also yet another proof of God's sense of humour: my first job, while still in high school, was also at a grocery store.
  2. The afore-mentioned band came about as an invitation from an old friend, with whom I've had the pleasure of performing, recording, and touring with in years gone by. I'm always up for another opportunity to be more involved in the local artistic/musical community (beyond playing bass at numerous churches around town).

    When I was first emerging from my Detoxing from Church experiences, it was a tour with this band leader that was instrumental for me (pardon the musical pun). Again, one senses the benevolent hand of God somewhere in the mix.
  3. Speaking of the writing of books, the final draft of the latest manuscript has been completed, and there's probably about two or three days of polishing (study questions for each chapter, finalizing the cover artwork, etc.) remaining before the creation of the test proofs. If all goes well, look for The Genesis Cafe: Conversations on the Kingdom to be released in roughly a month or so!
But for today (and tonight, and numerous other evenings of passionately pressured rehearsals between now and January 19), I will be enjoying the lively progression of becoming a band. (Yeah, I know, twist my arm...)

our basement is a happy place