Sometimes web surfing can be a dangerous thing. You’re looking at something safe, something normal, and then you’re in some dank back alley in the dirty part of town, where you have to keep your head down because you don’t want to attract attention.
Last night was like that. I found myself reading an evangelical fundie’s blog… and I was scared.
There I was, reading this blog, and everything about it struck me as wrong. Like one post, about how atheists couldn’t understand the Bible, as the Holy Spirit isn’t telling them what it means. My immediate reaction? My reading skills are fine, thankyouverymuch. I know how to parse a sentence. I don’t need someone else to tell me what something means.
Power and control. That was the underlying message of the fundie. It’s the same reason why translating the Bible into English had Wycliffe branded a heretic — how dare the masses presume to understand the word of god?
Then, the fundie began to speak about the terrible, vile adaptation of The Golden Compass. “Christianity is under attack!” he wrote. “This film will encourage children to read a series of books in which the main characters destroy god!”
I thought about this. Christianity? Under attack? Chrisitianity is under attack in the way that the CEO with the seven figure salary who uses tax shelters and tax dodges to pay out a four figure tax bill is over-taxed. Christianity is so under attack that non-Christians are expected to conform.
And then I realized what the argument was like.
It’s the Browser Wars, all over again.
Think about it.
There was a product that lots of people used — Netscape.
Then, a new product was introduced, it had a shaky beginning, but then it dominated everything — Internet Explorer.
Competing products were still used, but websites were often coded to fit IE’s idiosyncracies. Which made competing products not work properly. Web designers ignored the people not using IE. So some products — like Opera — could “cloak” themselves as IE, so as to not attract unwanted notice.
Then, when it appeared that the entire world would be dominated by the single browser, new competing browsers were introduced. And though their market share was small, their user base was fanatical and noisy. Why? Not because their products were better — though they were — but because they wanted to remind the world that there were other ways to browse the web that weren’t IE. Just because IE was the 800 pound gorilla, that didn’t mean that it was the only game in town.
In this analogy, Christians are IE users. Atheists are Firefox/Safari users. (Pastafarians are obviously Opera users. Obviously.) Christianity is big, and it’s always going to be big. There’s little danger in the short term that, in John Lennon’s words, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink.” But is Christianity under attack? Maybe in the sense that alternative browser users are saying, “Look, there are other products on the market, y’know?”
And Heaven! (Or the soul. Or some other religious thing.) Heaven is like online banking. “No wonder you can’t do online banking, you’re not usng IE!” Except, that presumes that I want to do online banking. Or that online banking is in any way important to me. You know what? Online banking isn’t important to me.
If Christians are feeling threatened and under attack in today’s society, I’d have to ask why they’re feeling threatened. Is it cognitive dissonance? Are they insecure in their faith? I’m just throwing out ideas, I don’t actually know. Christianity’s market share may be in decline, but it’s a slow decline, and it’s position atop the heap — like IE’s — isn’t under any serious challenge.
But I do know this. I like using Opera. 😆