Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Religious Intolerance? A Face Book Exchange

Had an interesting exchange on Facebook the last couple of days.  The residential complex where I live has its own Facebook site where about 250 subscribers can talk about the neighborhood, offer things for sale, or suggest activities others might want to participate in. 

Since I help lead a Bible study at my place every Wednesday I thought I would send out an invitation.  I was surprised by the direction it went: (I removed last names for privacy reasons, except mine).  Note: I don't know these guys and have never met them...but they are my "neighbors".

Steve Hackman: If anyone is interested a few of us get together on Park Island on Wednesday evenings for a Christian home group and Bible study. Tomorrow night we will be meeting in Block 1, 21/D. We usually get going around 7:30. All are welcome...

Nic: I read a review of the Bible on Amazon. Do you also study that side of the story Steve? I can't really tell if it's true or not as I haven't read it yet. (The review really denigrates the Bible)

Steve Hackman: Well, come around Nic and we'll see...

Matthew: Let's watch Riligulous on the first night

Steve Hackman Actually Matthew I think we may have a spelling contest.

Matthew: Checked on Amazon eh?

Nic : Haven't seen that documentary yet, but i just watched the trailer and it looks so funny.

Matthew: Recommended my friend

Steve Hackman: I'm surprised you haven't seen it Nic. You seem to have so much enthusiasm (not to mention time) for this subject. Even I've seen "Religulous" ...and Bill Maher live ( good show).

Nic : Yes I have to get on it indeed. I have been busy recently reading 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins which is a fairly good read. I recommend it to everyone.

Steve Hackman: I prefer Christopher Hitchens to Dawkins. I find Dawkins to be a little shrill

Matthew: You also seem to have quite a bit of extra time to watch movies and read books which don't exactly agree with the Bible.

Steve Hackman: I apologize if the" extra time" I give to diverse reading topics bothers you Matthew. Its not my intention to offend...

Matthew: Doesn't bother me at all. You are a free man and thus free to do whatever you please.

Matthew: And furthermore I was only referring to what you said to Nic in your earlier post.

Steve Hackman: Matthew- lets be honest for a minute. I posted an innocent invitation to people on Park Island who may be interested in an evening Bible study. Nic thought he'd have a little fun and try to take the micky out of it. I'm good natured and we've had some fun back and forth but really, if this sort of activity is not your interest, wouldn't really have been more dignified to ignore it?

Matthew: This is an open forum. Some people might agree with you, but others might not. If I invite people to join a Jehovas witness evening group on an open forum, I wouldn't expect everybody to just ignore my post. And by now it's all been well meant sarcasm rather than direct attacks. As innocent as your post actually is, Religion is still a touchy subject for some and you need to be prepared to defend your view as long as it's not getting below the belt line.

Matthew: Or simply take it with humour like you have previously

Steve Hackman: Matthew I agree that if I had made some kind of religious claim on an open forum then I have to be prepared to defend it and expect some people to agree and others to not. I'm not sure if inviting anyone interested around to my place for a Bible study qualifies in that category though. If you are looking for good discussion and a little friendly banter I'd be happy to buy you and / or Nic a beer at Cafe Roma and continue the discussion

Matthew: I was going to suggest the same (to take this discussion elsewhere) but actually this "conversation" went down the wrong route completely. I was only joking around and left my actual opinions on the subject aside. I think you got a bit offended after I mentioned what you seem to have time for. You're right, you didn't make any religious claims but nor did I say anything against your religion. If you re-read you will see that the tone changed after you suggested I should ignore your post. You might have or have not realised that I rarely post here, but your post tickled some comments out of me. Regardless of your post being "innocent", as it is an open forum, people are free to comment. That's a risk anyone has to take poting in places like this.

Steve Hackman: I love these kind of conversations and thats why I'd like to continue it just somewhere else I'm not "offended" per se but I did want this to be an just an invitation to other people on Park Island who really are interested in possibly coming to a Bible study and, well, that is kinda lost now.

Matthew: That's a classic phenomenon of forums on the internet. The chance that someone messes it up for another is quite high haha. "Thread hijacking" is the term which probably isn't in the dictionary yet. We hijacked your thread in a way, but the general sense persists I believe. Invite someone for a beer, you'll probably get a couple of general responses. Invite someone for a bible study, you'll get some jokers coming out from behind the corner. See the positive side, this thread has been on top since yesterday afternoon so it's all "publicity". But seriously, I don't think you, Nic or me were out to offend. Maybe re-post this and see what happens then haha

Friend 1: Discussion over a beer at Roma's sounds interesting guys. I would suspect it will be a looooong discussion :)

Matthew: That depends (Friend 1)

Steve Hackman: But fun...I'm game! I have to head to China for work tomorrow but could do something next week. And Matthew, you're right, there is no such thing as "bad publicity" ;)!

In the end it went pretty well but I'm used to these types of things happening "in America".  In Hong Kong we tend to pretty much leave each other alone so I was a bit taken aback by such a sharp dig at a pretty innocent post.
Religious Intolerance?  You be the judge


Michael said...

Hmm, tough one.

Seems that the "extra time" issue is what mostly set off the negative tone, and unfortunately my friend you were the first to land that blow! :)

Read as a whole, though, you all come off fairly well. I'd bet if you could all sit down for those beers it would be a great evening.


Did you ever get to meet him? Anyway, I hope your Bible study may have gone through at least... despite all the extra distractions. ; )

Steve H. said...

Michael: Re-reading it I realize it looked like the "extra time" issue was meant to escalate but I can honestly say I was trying to keep it light. I only put the term in quotes to link it to his post. In hind sight I should have put a wink or a smile at the end.

Petite: Thanks, the Bible Study went very well but I have not met the guys as of yet!

Bob said...

Planting seeds, Steve. Good for you.