Human Nature

Warning: The internet is full of ninnies

The fast last Sabbath went well here in our area and, for our family, was very encouraging! A good friend told me that Mr. Ames’ sermon in Charlotte was “exceptionally moving” and that the Sabbath was very uplifting. The sermon in our own area was by me, so I will reserve judgment. :)

In other news, where do rumors come from? On Facebook a couple of people mentioned to me some of the things that they had seen the usual suspects saying on the Internet (the usual suspects being the many folks who hate the Church, the growing collection of Self-Appointed Ones, habitual rumormongers, etc.). That the rumors exist isn’t surprising. There are always rumors, and there are always those who benefit, personally or professionally, from tearing others down, and we certainly have our own collection of detractors who revolve around us like nagging planets orbiting a sun that irritates them by the very fact that it exists—decrying our existence, yet continually choosing to define themselves in terms of our existence.

English: A warning sign with an exclamation mark

Warning: There are ninnies on the internet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The internet really is full of ninnies. Let the buyer beware!

Why some come up with or spread rumors is not hard to figure out. For some it is out of simple hatred. For some it is out of insecurity, since tearing certain others down makes them feel better about themselves. For some it is sadly the only way they can interact with others. For some the motivation is bitterness and frustrated self-ambition. For some it is gullibility, pure or impure (pure: they believe all things too readily; impure: they believe something readily and without justification because it fits their preconceived notions or what they want to be true). And, I suppose, for some it is just because their mom and dad didn’t teach them better. Regardless, the Bible condemns it all pretty harshly. (Just search for terms related to talebearing, gossip, etc. It isn’t pretty.)

And the deceptive self-justifications for spreading rumors are also not hard to figure out. Some imagine that it is “news” and they are simply “reporting.” Some believe that if two people say it, it must be true (they should divide God’s Word more accurately: e.g., Deut. 19:18-19). Some believe that as long as they are willing to correct it later, they are free to write whatever they want about anyone. Some are so deluded by their desire to harm others that they can’t see the emptiness behind their claim and actually believe it to be concrete and true (though, even then, broadcasting it raises other issues). Some believe that if they cowardly qualify what they say, by prefacing it, for instance, with something like “Though I didn’t say it, one comment I saw/heard/read was…” as if that absolves them of responsibility before God for publicly spreading gossip and bearing tales (such a one is not exactly paragon of having a “love of the truth”). And some just don’t care and need no justification. Biblical principles don’t mean anything to them, so everything is up for grabs and malice is free to flow like a river, regardless of whether or not the truth drowns in the resulting deluge.

None of this is surprising. Again: ninnies.

But concerning the things my Facebook correspondents mentioned, the thing that really “impresses” me is how completely and utterly unfounded and just plain false the rumors are. I mean, really: no truth to them whatsoever. Of all that have come to my attention, every single one is completely devoid of even the tiniest element of truth. Really. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nichts. Niente. Rien. Không. Nenio. Pagh.

(Bonus points, by the way, for identifying each of those languages.)

Really. I know it’s weird, and I’m no one important, but I’ve been in an amazing position to see these things if they were true. (STOP! Before I proceed, let me say that I hate name-dropping like some in the past have so annoyingly done to give their comments an air of authority they didn’t have. Yes, it made my skin crawl, too. So please let me speak as a fool here for a moment…) For years, now, since being added to the telecast I’ve been blessed to get to spend personal time with Mr. Meredith and the evangelists and administrators in their offices, meetings, and homes–not only in formal discussions but also in private and unguarded conversations, as well. I’m on the Council of Elders and communicate regularly and frankly with several others of the Council’s membership. I spend time with folks at all levels at HQ—eating and working together, laughing and crying together, being serious and being silly together… If there is anything lurking around that was truly as dire as those who hate the Church seem to be hoping for, some vast scandal or conspiracy or whatever, shouldn’t I have seen something? At least a hint? A whiff? A single whispered word? A tiny crumb on the floor? A mote or molecule of indication or implication—at least on the subatomic level?

Instead: None. Zip. Zero. Zil… Well, I’ve already been through that list, right?

So, all of that said, what it really comes down to for me—the thing that I truly wonder about and find fascinating—is where rumormongers’ ideas actually come from. With none of it grounded in any sort of reality, all that is left is fantasy. So where do the fantasies come from?

There was a time—a long time ago, now—when I used to naïvely believe no one would just make stuff up, let alone actually come to passionately believe that what they, themselves, have made up is really true. But the reality of Jeremiah 17:9 and Ecclesiastes 9:3 has long since settled into my experience of humanity, including, frankly, what I find in myself in self-examination. We human beings really are that messed up.

And when you throw in an ounce of bitterness and malice or a dash of selfish-ambition—maybe a pinch of delusions of grandeur—it is amazing what one can create in the devil’s mixing bowl. And, be assured, as the head chef Satan is always hanging around the kitchen assisting his sous-chefs and making sure that they are on task. It’s sad, true, that so many are willing to work in his kitchen. Sadder, still, that some of them actually believe they are somehow pleasing God as they spread their accusations instead of pleasing their real master who is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10).

How would they feel if they realized that while the devil is accusing the brethren, night and day, before God as Revelation describes, God could simply look over the devil’s shoulder and see them on earth doing exactly the same thing? Can they imagine what such a sight would look like to the One they claim as Father? Can they imagine how it might make Him feel? Does it even cross their minds? Anyway, I got caught up in my kitchen analogy (did you like it?) and got off track. Let me return!

Having watched rumormongers at their work for years and years, now, nothing completely surprises me anymore, I think, and the virtually unbounded creativity of the self-deceving human heart truly is mind-boggling.

But, as this post has demonstrated, that doesn’t prevent me from way-too-verbosely pondering the question of where people get such outrageously false delusions. How do they come up with such complete junk? From whence to internet ninnies get their passionately-believed-yet-utterly-baseless fantasies?

As I was subjecting my poor Beautiful Wife to such way-too-verbose ponderings recently, she kindly listened for a while before turning, grabbing her iPhone off the dresser, opening up her Bible app, turning quickly to a passage, handing it to me, and saying, “That’s where they come from.”

The passage? 2 Chronicles 18:20-21.

“Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.’”

As usual, my Beautiful Wife keeps it simple and truthful. :)

About Wallace G. Smith

Pastor for the Living Church of God (www.lcg.org) and a presenter on the Tomorrow's World television program (www.tomorrowsworld.org).

Discussion

16 thoughts on “Warning: The internet is full of ninnies

  1. if the original disciples only knew how far things would go in the fulfillment of basic prophecies: “many shall come in My name…”, etc., etc., etc. What technology makes possible… our tools change, but human nature never does.

    I hope I have never made the mistake, or even seemed to, here or anywhere else, of “name-dropping” in an inappropriate way in my comments. If I ever have inadvertently here, I most sincerely apologize. But in some few cases, Mr. Smith, including my own, I wonder if such name-dropping isn’t rather like what you and Paul do above: not to fulfill one of the most meaningful verses in the Bible for me (see below), but to “speak as a fool” in reaction to needless and wrong-headed criticism of how God works through human beings despite themselves, if necessary, and in association with other human beings who are fellow servants of the same Great God.

    (John 7:18 RSV) He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

    If and when I forget this principle (and see the prior two verses as well), I’m just as much a ninnyhammer as anyone else. One reason I admire what you do here and on the TW broadcast is that you and I share the same goal: seek the simplest and most complete explanation of all the facts available, and then let that explanation speak for itself.

    Posted by John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav) | March 1, 2013, 12:03 pm
  2. P.S.: And in so doing, seek the glory of him who sent you, and us all as a Church, and not our own. :D

    Posted by John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav) | March 1, 2013, 12:04 pm
  3. OK, three more languages for you (since I can’t identify everything in your list): Lo. La. Ou. (That’s Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, respectively.) ;)

    Posted by John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav) | March 1, 2013, 12:12 pm
  4. Rest assured, Mr. Wheeler, you were not on my mind as a name-dropper. :) And John 7:18 is, indeed, quite applicable to several who come to mind. I wish, along with you, that it may never be applied to us.

    Posted by Wallace G. Smith | March 1, 2013, 12:45 pm
  5. I actually thought this was a very good article on the problems with slander and gossip… not verbose at all.

    Posted by Steve | March 1, 2013, 12:59 pm
  6. Thought I spotted some Esperanto there. So.. French, Italian, Spanish,German, and Esperanto?

    Posted by Steve | March 1, 2013, 1:07 pm
  7. I’m always a bit surprised when I hear someone talking about rumors about the Living Church of God, primarily because I’m so out of that loop that I don’t even know there ARE rumors (and I want to keep it that way!). But reading your post reminded me of an experience I had many years ago. I once read a book written by someone who was claiming that Mr. Armstrong’s (and by extension the WWCG’s) doctrines were in error. I won’t name the book because I don’t want to promote it. As I read each chapter that supposedly took one of our doctrines and exposed it as being in error, I was consistently amazed that the doctrines they were arguing against weren’t even our doctrines! They were some made up twist of our doctrines. Nothing that book had to say was even true. I think that the basis for most of these rumors are false. They come from the father of lies. That’s just one reason I’m glad to be out of the loop.

    Posted by Terri Dorothy | March 1, 2013, 1:07 pm
  8. Hey, Steve, points for spotting Esperanto! And Ms. Dorothy, I agree. I used to enjoy not being aware of rumors, too, but part of being a shepherd has meant dealing with them, and I’m glad to do so. Actually, I’m pretty glad that I haven’t really heard much about them from our own members, and most of our folks don’t seem to frequent rumormongers’ sites, it seems. Beyond their being brought to my attention by some folks on Facebook, I don’t know anyone who is particularly bothered. But, still, some will seek out salacious sayings–there are always those who do. And I agree with not repeating that which one doesn’t want advertised or promoted. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t repeat any of the rumors here–why perpetuate a falsehood through repetition? I knew a guy once when I was teaching high school who had a rumor spread among the students that he was a homosexual. He was not a homosexual, but the statement–unfounded as it was–still had its damage, even after it was refuted. That’s part of why some individuals (including politicians and political operatives) like spreading rumors even though they know they are false: Even if it is repeated by others in an effort to deny it, it is still repeated, planting little seeds wherever it is repeated in any way. It’s related to the reason that people like to anonymously bomb websites with vague accusations for which they give no details. If they gave details, people would be able to quickly determine that the accusation was bunk or trivial, yet by making it vague it spreads and does more damage by invoking the imagination. It’s a sad world of tactics and strategy out there in Rumorland, even when those being used by the Accuser aren’t aware of the part they unwittingly play.

    Thanks for your comments!

    Posted by Wallace G. Smith | March 1, 2013, 1:10 pm
  9. I’ve discovered a shocking conspiracy going on at HQ. I was finishing up working a little late and in my haste to leave, I left a dirty coffee mug on my desk with the intention of washing it the next morning. However, when I came in the next day, the mug was gone! When I went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, there was the mug, sparkling clean and in the cupboard with the rest of the coffee mugs.

    I don’t mean to cause any alarm or panic or anything but it is apparent that some person (or more likely persons)… is going around and serving others in secret without trying to gain any recognition for it!

    It may seem like a minor thing but I’ve already noticed some larger effects of this type of behavior, excessive cooperation, teamwork, harmony, increased productivity… it’s quickly getting out of control.

    Posted by Jason Talbott | March 1, 2013, 1:43 pm
  10. Ha! OK, Jason, you get the prize. That’s pretty funny! And, even better, wonderfully believable. :)

    Posted by Wallace G. Smith | March 1, 2013, 1:48 pm
  11. Mr. Smith: One of the hardest parts of my little contribution to the Work is the fact that I do get upset at the Games People Play in the ways you describe. Sometimes over my several decades in the Church, I’ve been put in the odd position of being “a sheep in shepherd’s clothing”, always an awkward position; and being so makes me so glad I’m not in your position as an actual ordained and accountable shepherd. I’d never be able to put up with the stress. I can’t detach myself from what people do to the extent you apparently can – even if I’ve seen you burn with your own brand of righteous indignation at Brilliant Displays of Illogic and other such nonsense when answering certain people on your blog.

    May God continue to guide your spirit, soul and body – you need it! :D

    Posted by John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav) | March 1, 2013, 1:55 pm
  12. Jason: That was brilliant. Hilarious. To the point. I wish I’d thought of it. :D (genuine and prolonged LOL)

    Posted by John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav) | March 1, 2013, 2:31 pm
  13. Well, you’re very kind, Mr. Wheeler, and I do admit that things get under my skin at times. I admire Dr. Meredith, Mr. Ames, and Dr. Winnail for the way they put up with people saying stupid things about them and twisting their words, and they are great examples in that way, as are many other ministers I could name. If they addressed every dumb thing someone said about them, they wouldn’t have time to do anything else. I’ve had enough said about me that I’ve had the chance to grow in my ability to ignore it and focus on the task at hand, but I do have my limits, and those limits are still smaller than what those men possess. Further still, I get irritated on their behalf by those who attack them, in particular when the attacks are from one here or there to whom they showed nothing but kindness–and frankly still do show incredible kindness in multiple ways, however undeserved it might be. To a certain extent, perhaps we should never “get used” to seeing Satan thoroughly manipulate people’s carnal natures to make them his personal, self-righteous tools. But, yes, the ability to trust God and add some emotional distance is an important quality. I always try to remind myself that Jesus put up with a whole lot more than what God has asked of any of us so far, and the thought–especially this time of year–shames me properly into putting such relative non-trials into perspective.

    Thanks, again!

    Posted by Wallace G. Smith | March 1, 2013, 2:38 pm
  14. :)

    Posted by JD | March 1, 2013, 4:14 pm
  15. A man who gives respect to his wife is an inspiration.

    Posted by Evalinda Nuanez | March 2, 2013, 12:05 pm
  16. Kudos to Jason for finding an amusing scandal and to Mrs Smith for wisdom. BTW, Mr Smith, you show wisdom as well for listening to someone who has some. :) Reacting to gossip these days is a lot like whack-a-mole (sp?). Two always pop up whenever one gets nailed.

    Posted by iammarchhare | March 2, 2013, 4:41 pm

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