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Your Ultimate Thanksgiving Survival Guide

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How to survive thanksgiving
How to survive Thanksgiving and live to tell the tale

 

Thanksgiving happens tomorrow! If you think you can just saunter into the holiday feast without preparation, you, my friend, are sorely mistaken. I’m not talking about food prep. I’m not talking about getting your house clean. I’m talking about preparing for dinner conversations. If you go in unarmed, it could lead to a social and emotional massacre. So here is your ultimate Thanksgiving Survival Guide. 

Think about the volatility that has fractured this country post-election. The protests and the civil unrest doesn’t take time out for turkey and stuffing. No, it will merely hide under the surface during conversational pleasantries. These pleasantries, like the hors d’oeuvres, will soon evaporate leading you right into the main course. My goal here is to bridge that gap between small talk and your tryptophan-induced, post-meal coma. The objective is to steer clear of political talk… at all costs! 

So take it from your snarky friend and follow these steps.

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Survival Guide 

First, have some Thanksgiving themed trivia to keep the conversation going so your racist Aunt Helen doesn’t go full Sieg Heil while passing the gravy. I’ve listed ten useful bits of trivia below. Use at your own discretion.

Secondly, have some facilitation questions to keep everything light-hearted and chatty while avoiding the Nuremberg Rally-esque diatribes of some of your guests. Remember, people love talking about themselves. So keep ’em chatty and there should be little room to talk about politics.

Finally, if all else fails, have a few emergency recipes as a ripcord you can pull to release your inebriated parachute. This is a failsafe, last-ditch effort, but memory loss and blacking out can be your friend. You just need to secure a designated driver early in the day or there’s always Uber. Included below are some recipes that will do the trick.

So remember to follow these tips and put them into action immediately when you hear the first mention of “Making American Great Again” or “Crooked Hillary.”

It is my prayer that you survive this volatile holiday with family and friends. May the only insanity you experience be the mobs of Black Friday because, at least, Black Friday is something in which you choose to participate and not one that you married into. Enter into this gluttonesque holiday with confidence knowing that the biggest dilemma you should face is which belt to wear because you need one that can expand adequately to meet your turkey and stuffing consumption needs. It may be tempting but elastic waistbands are never an option. They’re only the sign of a deeper problem.

Thanksgiving Trivia to dazzle and distract your guests 
  1. Turducken, which is a turkey stuffed with duck with a chicken inside (yes, you read that correctly), has become so popular that stores in Louisiana ship more than 5,000 a week before the holidays.
  2. Back in 1953, Swanson overestimated the number of turkeys it was going to sell for the holiday by 26 TONS. So, it took the leftover meat plus some trimmings and packaged it all up. Voila! The first TV dinner.
  3. There are actually four places in the United States called Turkey. Louisiana’s Turkey Creek is the most populous with an impressive 440 residents. Then, there’s Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. And last but definitely not least, there are two townships in Pennsylvania named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!
  4. Forget Black Friday, according to Roto-Rooter, the nation’s largest plumbing service, Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers. So eat up folks… the plumbers need your help.
  5. No more ‘gobble gobble.‘ Only the male turkeys, called Toms, make the gobble sound. The females, called Hens, cackle.
  6. Uncle Frank isn’t the only one at the table prone to heart attacks. Turkeys have them too. When the Air Force conducted test runs for breaking the sound barrier, fields of nearby turkeys would drop dead.
  7. More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving.
  8. Twenty percent of cranberries eaten are eaten on Thanksgiving.
  9. The Guinness Book of Records states that the greatest dressed turkey weight recorded for a turkey is 86 lbs, at the annual “heaviest turkey” competition held in London, England on December 12, 1989.
  10. Columbus thought that the land he discovered was connected to India, where peacocks are found in considerable number. He believed turkeys were a type of peacock (they’re actually a type of pheasant). So he named them “tuka”, which is “peacock” in the Tamil language of India.
Thanksgiving Conversation Starters
  1. What is your favorite Thanksgiving Tradition?
  2. Who is someone you need to show more gratitude for and why?
  3. What was your most memorable meal of the year?
  4. Black Friday: thumbs up or thumbs down?
  5. What are your favorite stories to tell?
  6. What pop-culture family reminds you most of your own?
  7. What movie should definitely be nominated for an Oscar this year?
  8. What is your favorite part of winter?
  9. Discuss how a cup of coffee, or a good song, or a painting can have a deep impact on you?
  10. What have you been obsessed with the most in 2016?
Emergency Inebriation Options For Survival
  1. The “Healthy” Option – Mix Vodka (you choose the amount) in a glass with ice and add 1 packet of orange-flavored Emergen-C. Boost that immune system while you kill your liver. Two steps forward with two steps back? Perhaps, but keep these things coming and you’ll soon be able to tune out those racist relatives. Just keep telling yourself, “This is healthy…”
  2. The “Sneaky” Option – Open up a beer (any kind will do), take a deep swig then fill that space in your bottle with whiskey. You can keep refilling and nursing that one beer all day. If anyone asks, reply, “This is my first beer…” You’re not technically lying.
  3. The “College Flashback’ Option – Remember your old friend, Jägermeister? Yeah, it was nasty but did the trick. One way to cut the taste and make it a bit more palatable is to add root beer. Finding the right mixer is always key.

Bonus: Always remember to bring a full flask to events like these, you never know when you need an emergency ration. If all else fails, just excuse yourself from the table for a moment, drain the flask and then enjoy the rest of your day. 

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Don’t be a turkey! take this ultimate thanksgiving survival guide, own the day and make it yours.

Get Out and Vote!

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On the eve of Super Tuesday, I have only one message for you… get off your butt and vote! Sure, there’s plenty of reasons as to why not vote, but I’ll give you three compelling reasons to go out and vote.

I know. I know that you’re feeling disenfranchised about the whole electoral process and I’m with you on that. It’s a broken system run by broken people… but the same could be said for the institutionalized church. A handful of you show up a few Sundays a month to waste an hour of your time, so I digress. Here are my 3 main reasons to get out and vote.

Here are my 3 main reasons to get out and vote:
  1. It’s your minimum, basic, civic duty as a citizen of this country. Voting is like paying for parking tickets, watering your lawn or being picked for jury duty. No one enjoys it, but it’s kind of like the kale…  we know in the long run that it’s part of the greater good. So hold your nose and enter the voting booth.
  2. There are other issues and candidates at stake. I hear your pain, no one wants to go on a double date with the Orange Don or Crooked Hillary. I completely understand. They’re like that couple that keeps texting you to hang out. When it comes to voting, there are more pressing issues on the ballot than those dysfunctional two with power issues. I voted early and there were 26 other issues on the ballot. If you can’t stomach the options for commander and chief, just remember that there are other things going on in the country and your local community. Let your voice be heard.
  3. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain for the next four years. Yes, I know that harping and complaining about politics is an American pastime, but if you don’t go and vote I’m not going to let you have that right. You’ve been revoked. If you can’t bother to get up off your butt and vote… you just need to remain silent for the next four years in regards to politics. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Shush.

Needless to say, voting often doesn’t make a huge difference in the big races, but in the smaller local races, it can be a big deal. Complain all you want about so many things… but just complain to yourself as you wait in line on Super Tuesday to vote.

 

The Line Between Sacred Versus Secular

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Picture by: Georgie Pauwels
Everywhere, wherever you may find yourself, you can set up an altar to God in your mind by means of prayer.
– St. John Chrysostom

A few weeks ago, I was preaching at a church and my friend, Joe Sanchez, was leading worship. One of my passions has been to find ways to work secular songs into the worship portion of a church service. I love the way truth can permeate through an honest song. That rarely happens in modern worship music. Joe reworked Jeff Lynne’s song, Lift Me Up, and it became a beautiful addition to my morning message.

I thought I’d share it with you. Enjoy.

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In contemporary Christianity, we draw all sorts of lines that end up being unhealthy. Those lines warp the lens of how we see culture. They also warp how we live out the ways of Jesus.

Look no further than social media to see how many Christians like to share their love in the form of accusations, finger-pointing and hateful, name-calling. I’d rather they trade the strong talk for a strong drink. The sad fact is that much of Christianity has an issue with seeing things in a metric of sacred versus secular. It’s a division that’s borne out of the pit of hell (if you believe in hell) and something far, far away from the life God calls us to.

When Christ looked at people… he simply saw people. He didn’t see the labels or judgment. How have we so easily lost this in the church?

Once we start seeing people as the other or put value judgments on them, we cease to see their humanity. When we cease to see the humanity in others, we no longer see them as a person created in the image of God. If we can’t see God’s creations anymore we most likely can’t see God at work in the world. At that point, our faith becomes twisted and rigid and then it spirals downward towards bitterness. Then the cycle continues. Wash, rinse and repeat.

To grab hold of Jesus means we must love. It’s not a conditional command. It’s not a commandment with exceptions. Loving others is just that plain and simple. All of life is spiritual. It’s almost as if Jeff Lynne was echoing Jesus when it said, “love is what I want.” There are no boundaries besides the ones we make. To simply push the point further, I’ll refer to Madeline L’Engle who put it so eloquently by saying, “There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.” This includes every decision we make and every judgment we cast. We are either choosing to embrace that fact that life is spiritual and God is at work or not. So if we’re not living that way, can we really call ourselves followers of Christ?

We can’t be in the business of lifting others up out of their brokenness if we’re in the business of keeping them there. To begin to see the sacred in the secular begins to change the way we engage with the world. It takes the focus off of us and places it in God’s hands where beautiful things await us.

Honesty, Faith and Doubt

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The beauty of the honesty, faith and doubt of a child

If you want to make something like cookies or pancakes, there are always essential ingredients that you’ll find common between most recipes. Eggs, flour, and oil are among those that you’ll find over and again. When it comes to believing in something greater… I assume we’d get a wild spectrum of answers of the essential elements depending on your religious upbringing or current indoctrination.

I stumbled upon this piece of paper (pictured above) a few weeks ago on the floor at church. I can only assume it’s from a child, but I found it absolutely fascinating, beautiful… and genuine.

There were three key ingredients at play here: honesty, faith and Doubt all mixed together. I believe that these ingredients are absolutely essential for one’s spiritual journey.

I was raised Southern Baptist and in that vein of Christianity, “knowing” was always paramount… but not in the spiritual sense. It was more about intellectualism. You have to know all the right facts and those facts would bring you closer to God. Doubt had no place because the belief was all about possessing information much like you do when preparing for a test. You study hard and hopefully get a good grade.

But in faith there are no grades, right? The Southern Baptists would agree with that statement in theory, but in practice, that’s another story. When it comes to grading, one quick way to lose points is being too honest and/or doubting. Let me exactly qualify what I mean by grading. There’s no overt scale at play, but there is a significant amount of judgment happening by the other church members and clergy. You’re judged on what you say, how you look, what you do and what you think. You need to look and act like the rest of the herd in order to be accepted. It’s more of a social construct than a religious practice.  Over my career, I’ve worked for a spectrum of Christian brands: Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist and non-denominational. These rules apply to all of them.

Now, let’s return to the picture. I think there’s a reason that Jesus mentioned the faith of a child in Matthew 18, and he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Children are filled with wonder, but they are also filled with questions. Incessant questions. As a father, I’ve experienced this wide-eyed curiosity firsthand. Initially, it annoyed me. They saw me as the answering machine. Over time, it changed. I’ve learned to love their questions. Actually, their questions have changed and stretched me.

To proceed in this conversation, let us add a few clarifying definitions to this conversation. I’ll inject some varied voices into this as they may help to define these terms.

Honesty by Ayn Rand

“As the refusal to fake reality, honesty consists in a deliberate, principled renunciation of any evasion, distortion, misrepresentation, or artifice. In essence, honesty means not pretending.”

Faith by Pete Rollins

“The word “faith” is a much-misunderstood term. In contemporary discourse, it often means the act of believing in something that lacks empirical evidence, something that one affirms through intuition, the interpretation of a particular personal experience or the interpretation of a publicly observable phenomenon.  However the term, in its more theological sense, has much more in common with a particular way of living.”

Doubt by Lesley Hazleton

“Consider that doubt… is the heart of the matter. Abolish all doubt, and what’s left is not faith, but absolute, heartless conviction. You’re certain that you possess the Truth — inevitably offered with an implied uppercase T — and this certainty quickly devolves into dogmatism and righteousness, by which I mean a demonstrative, overweening pride in being so very right, in short, the arrogance of fundamentalism.”

To cultivate any healthy, spiritual community, we have to realize that doubt and honesty are just as essential as faith. If you eliminate one, the rest fall by the wayside. To embrace this idea takes courage and risk, which is why it rarely happens. Belief in anything always brings with it risk and the unknown. Think about love, for instance, there is no guarantee. But the reason we risk things for love is that the rewards, the upside, is worth it. When you love others and take on faith that they love you… it takes courage.

When it comes to the church, risk left through the back door long ago. Then soon after that, courage joined up with it in the parking lot. Christianity without risk and courage isn’t a movement anymore… it becomes an institution. Jesus didn’t come to set up institutions, they were one of the reasons he railed against the establishment. Institutions survive by keeping themselves afloat. Their existence becomes all about themselves and people become secondary. Now, again they may argue that fact in theory, but their practice says otherwise.

Why does this matter? Well, it’s everything. If the foundation from which you operate is fundamentally flawed, then the outcome won’t be what you want. With each passing year, the institution looks and acts less and less like the one who started the movement. The question to ask here is, does the church today look like Jesus?

But all is not lost. It doesn’t take much to right the ship and I’d wager to say that embracing a mixture of honesty, faith, and doubt is the key.

The first step is allowing doubt to breathe. It’s essential in this journey forward. Antionette du Liger de la Garde Deshoulieres once said, “seeking to know is only too often learning to doubt.” The fear is that doubt leads to more doubt, but in truth, if you pair doubt with belief and honesty, beautiful things can happen. Sure it’s a risk, but nothing great is ever accomplished without risk. It also takes courage that God is at work in the lives of others which is one of the basic beliefs of Christianity.

Looking back at that picture I found, I want there to be a place where that child can grow on their spiritual journey while expressing their doubts and questions in a safe environment. For the church to look more like Jesus, we must realize that belief needs to have a mixture of honesty, faith and doubt cultivated with one another in a loving community. That’s how we transition from an institution back to a movement. It’s how we return the beauty and mystery to Christianity.

Snarky Bites – episode 2: Guns

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How do we talk about guns in America? All we seem to do is posture and platform all the while innocent lives are in the fray. We need a better way to dialogue.

Let’s hear your thoughts…

The Real Reason America is Becoming Like Sodom

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By: Robbie Shade

Guest post by Joel Varner //

Since gay marriage has become legal in America, I’ve been hearing the rise of a familiar saying: “America is becoming more and more like Sodom and Gomorrah.”  Whether from a pulpit, a megaphone, or a Facebook post, there is a growing sentiment that America is becoming more and more immoral, quickly bringing it under God’s judgment and wrath. And I agree.  America is becoming more and more immoral like Sodom and Gomorrah, but not for the same reasons as the people shouting into their Facebook posts.

So what were the real reasons God punished Sodom, and how is America becoming like it? Our introduction to the history of Sodom is so shocking that we can quickly jump to conclusions as to why it received God’s punishment.  God told Abraham that He was sending two angels to Sodom because “the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know” (Gen 18:20-21 NASB).  While God was looking to judge the sins of the city, He was also looking for a few good people to spare it from His wrath; “The LORD said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’” (Gen 18:26 NASB)

But when the angels arrive at Lot’s house in Sodom, “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old–surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them’” (Gen 19:4-5).  Then the angels blinded the mob, helped Lot and his family flee the city, and Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with raining brimstone and fire.  From this initial reading, it’s easy to assume that Sodom was destroyed because the men there were inflamed with homosexual desires.

But the men (young and old) weren’t trying to engage in any sort of consensual homosexual sex; they were trying to forcibly rape these foreigners in their city.  Now raping anyone, man or women, is a terrible crime, but why did the men of Sodom want to rape these strangers? Was it because they couldn’t resist their homosexual urges? 

God actually explains Sodom’s sin to the Israelites. As the nation of Israel grew, God warned them that they were becoming more and more like their “sister” Sodom…and even worse.  In Ezekiel 16:48-50, God tells the Israelites, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen.”

It appears that the men of Sodom wanted to rape the strangers not because they couldn’t resist their homosexual urges, but rather because the strangers were…foreigners.  When Lot tries to protect the visiting angels in his home, the mob replies, “Get out of our way. This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them” (Gen 19:9).  The mob’s contempt for Lot is because he is a foreigner to their city, and they even threaten to harm him worse than the two foreigners he’s hiding in his house. 

Raping foreigners was an act of extreme violence in a culture where it was the victims who were punished for being raped by being shamed, beaten, whipped, imprisoned, and kicked out from other cities.  Rape was ultimately a slow death sentence to the victims, and a message to the other nations.  The message the people of Sodom seem to be making is: “This is our city and our wealth.  You poor, needy, foreigners aren’t welcome here.  And we’ll rape you if you try to come and take anything that is ours.”  This sin was detestable to God, and He made Sodom and Gomorrah an example of His wrath.

So when I hear people saying that America is becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah, I completely agree.  But I find it very ironic that the people usually saying this are pointing to the sin of homosexuality in America…all the while actively lobbying for legislation that refuses healthcare for the sick, resources for the poor, and aid to foreigners.

But what I am saying is that God did not destroy Sodom simply because of homosexuality.  God punished Sodom and Gomorrah as a warning to nations that are “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned” and “do not help the poor and needy”…and even resort to the immorality and perversion of rape to oppress those in need (Jude 1:7). 

Now I’m sure that there were gay people in Sodom and Gomorrah (just as there has been in every nation for all of history), but God never once says that He punished Sodom for the personal sins of the few. He does, however, declare His judgment on the public sins of the nation.

So, may America stop becoming more and more immoral like Sodom and Gomorrah.   May we not be quick to “look at the speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in our own eye” (Matthew 7:3).  And may God find righteous people in our nation who obey God’s commands to “administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner, or the poor.” (Zechariah 7:9-10).


Joel Varner has served in ministry for the past 15 years. He is a pastor in Albany, Oregon equipping and training missional community leaders. Joel works with his wife Brenna, of 13 years, and their two daughters. You can find him on Facebook.

Colbert and the Problem with Nostalgia

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By: Mark Rain

Stephen Colbert premiered as the new host of the Late Show last night to good reviews. The show was fun, a bit overlong, but as anything with Colbert, filled with great promise for years to come. It’s been funny to watch the reactions on Twitter and the comment sections of web reviews. The one comment (or iteration of the same comment) I kept seeing was something along the lines of “I miss Dave [Letterman].”

This struck me as funny because most people haven’t even been watching Letterman on a regular basis since the 90’s. This isn’t a knock against Dave, but one about how we choose to see the past. That’s the problem with nostalgia. The good old days get frozen in time and begin to ferment with age. Some memories get better in our minds, while others sour. The past is either idolized or demonized.

Back in high school, I saw Cabin Boy (a Letterman produced movie where he also makes a cameo) twice on the opening day (don’t judge). I thought it was awesome and hilarious. I couldn’t get enough. I probably alone accounted for half of the weekend’s opening box office sales. Returning to the film years later, I have no idea what I was thinking. It was more about the moment in time and the friends I was with. It was less about the actual cinematic quality of the film. In memory, the moment trumps the reality.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this until we begin to assume absolute truth to the history of our memories. With the instance of Colbert, we have folks comparing one show to decades of Letterman’s best on TV. Dave had his moments, but with most of comedy, for every laugh, there are also three times as many jokes that went flat. Unless the joke went epically wrong (Uma-Oprah), we tend to only remember the high times.

Outside of entertainment, I’ve seen this happen in two prominent areas: politics and religion. I know these aren’t the only places we see nostalgia run amok, but they seem to be the places that scream (or preach) at us the loudest.

If you made a drinking game out of every time a Republican made a reference to Reagan during presidential campaigns, you’d die from alcohol poisoning. Politicians love to prey on the nostalgia factor because you can make promises out of memories, and they don’t ever have to be real. Hearken to the past you want to remember, and declare that you can take the present back there again. It’s a thing of fairy tales. The last thing we need right now is fairy tales.

In our churches, we play the similar game. Yesterday is framed as a more innocent time with less evil, less sin, and better morality. The message again is that we need to get back there. The funny thing about this is that we were never there. There has always been sin, evil, and corruption since the world began. The idea that there’s more of it today than yesterday is simply a farce, and it plays at our longing for nostalgia. Like politics, our faith can and should have a voice in our lives that drive us to engage deeply in the problems of the world. It’s not an excuse to run to the nostalgia of the past.

We can’t move backward. Moving backward means living in a world where smallpox is still a present issue or women and African American’s can’t vote. You can’t go back to the glory days and not get the mess that was present then. Hen picking memories can never be a reality. It’s counter productive and not healthy. When we live in the past, it clouds our vision for the present.

We can certainly learn lessons from history and recognize that we stand on the shoulders of those that have come before us. We just can’t go back. For the world to be a better place we need to be fully engaged in the present. Should we celebrate the past? Absolutely. We’re just not meant to live there.

Letterman had his day in the sun, and it was great. Today is not his day anymore. Hopefully, Colbert will move forward into years of late night greatness. With us, there are so many present issues pressing on life today: immigration, climate change, inequality and poverty (to mention a few). These problems won’t go away and require us to step into them with sober eyes fully focused on the present. You can’t solve a problem by wishing it wasn’t there. Nostalgia has its place, it just doesn’t move us forward.

#TrumpBible Brilliance

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Most times the internet is a vast wasteland of selfies, memes and adorable kitten pictures, but there are those special moments in time when everything converges into something spectacular. Thank you internet for birthing the #TrumpBible hashtag. It’s an amazing and evolving bit of social genius.

All of this stemmed from Donald Trump side stepping a question about the Bible in an interview last week. When asked what his favorite Bible verse was, he declined, saying “I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal…the Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

In response to his dodgery, the internet has come to the rescue, which is how the #TrumpBible was born. I’m always up for some good snark, and the idea of re-imaging the Bible according to the Don, is brilliant. So far on Twitter, there are over 10,000 tweets…err verses and counting. #TrumpBible is a prime example of the internet getting it right.

Here are a few brilliant examples:

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Find more #TrumpBible brilliance click here and head on over to Twitter. 

How to Deal with a Troll Attack

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Photo by: Sue

If you’ve ever spent any time online or crossing an old creepy bridge, chances are you’ve come across a troll. They are bitter, self-righteous creatures that lurk in the dark. They wear uncomfortable underwear that’s seemingly too tight all the while wielding a keyboard to spew vitriol, inflict damage and infuriate writers and commenters alike. There’s no real way to stop a troll because you can’t appease them. However, there are ways to deal with them when you happen to cross paths with one.

Before dealing with a troll attack, it’s important to look at what motivates and drives their behavior. They need an audience. Rarely do they survive in isolation. With the protection (and sometimes anonymity) of the medium, they are able to spew on command. They take to social networks, blog sites, discussion forums and the like to find their latest victim. In their regular lives, they may seem like nice people, but in the shadows of the internet, they bare their ugly side. Just remember that they’re bullheaded, grumpy and intent on being right (or pushing their narrow worldview) which end conversations and, generally, shame people.

When encountering a troll, here’s a few tips to remember:

Don’t feed the trolls. They feed off of anger and quickly you can find yourself playing into their game. That’s their whole point for being there in the first place… to elicit a reaction and/or a response usually to confirm to themselves their own smug superiority or self-righteousness. Remember that a troll attack is typically an unwinnable argument with an unreasonable (and potentially unstable) person. You may want to respond angrily but don’t fight vitriol with vitriol. Much like the social philosopher, T. Swift, often says, “hater’s gonna hate…” In the same way, a troll’s gonna troll.

Don’t try to reason with them because reason isn’t their point for being there in the first place. Remember that it’s all about them and not actually about you. You just happen to be their next victim who wandered into their crosshairs. The arguments may seem reasonable or the attack may feel personal, but it’s all about their sad lives and their need to feel important.

Don’t try to get in the ‘last word’ because it’s not worth it. This will only lengthen the situation and you have better things to do with your time. This prolonged engagement with the troll is much like getting a root canal. This isn’t an experience you want to extend. So learn to laugh and move on. Besides, if you really need catharsis with your troll problem, head over to Netflix and watch Troll Hunter or even Troll 2. Either of these would be a better use of your time and emotional energy.

When it comes to trolls, you can’t prevent when or how the attack may come, but you can control whether or not you become their next victim. Trolls are much like middle school bullies; small, sad people looking to demean and humiliate others in order to make themselves feel better. Whatever the particular reason of the troll for engaging you, don’t allow yourself to hide from the world or censor your voice. Either of these would be a shame because the world needs more of you and fewer trolls. Go live, stop caring about the trolls and get on with your life. Walk carefully, and you may just survive their next attack.

The Frank Shaefer Interview

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[youtube https://youtu.be/35LOtpRCH2A]

A little while back, I had the pleasure of talking with LGBTQ activist, advocate and United Methodist pastor, Rev. Frank Schaefer. This exclusive interview is part of a Snarky Faith Radio show on why dialogue, not debate, is needed more in the church today. To listen to the show, click here.