I Don’t Like Being Bullied, Intimidated, Or Maligned

Friendly_InternetI wish I had a better sense of humor. I don’t think anyone handles criticism better than InsanityBytes. She routinely writes blog posts about the unkind things people say that end up in her spam folder, and yet she treats them with lightheartedness (see for example “Lost In Spam” or “Back Talking Spam.” She makes some astute comments along the way, so she makes me laugh all the while making me think. Maybe when I grow up, I’ll be more like her.

In the meantime, I’m stuck not liking it when someone bullies me via the Internet (or in person), says things to try to make me back down from an opinion I hold, or vilifies my character. I’m pretty sure, of the three, I’m bothered most by the latter.

The little issues I faced recently have made me think about people who face real opposition, continually—the kind that restricts their freedom (such as being sold into the sex trafficking trade or married off to an Islamic terrorist) or threatens their life (such as Christians in Iraq or Sudan). Ultimately I’ve thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and those men and women who formed the first Church.

Jesus was bullied and intimidated and maligned. The Jewish leaders singled Him out because they were jealous of Him. That was Pontius Pilate’s assessment of things when Jesus stood before him and he wanted to release Him (Matt. 27:18). No, the crowd said. Not that man. Crucify Him and release Barabbas. Why did they turn against Jesus? Because the Jewish leaders, motivated by their envy, convinced them to.

I think jealousy and envy are behind a lot of bullying and intimidation. The Jewish leaders didn’t like it that this upstart carpenter didn’t bow to their rules or back off when they challenged Him. They didn’t like it that He did things they couldn’t do—like heal lepers and restore sight to the blind or raise dead people back to life. Mostly they didn’t like the fact that people followed Him and basically wanted to make Him the king.

After all, they were the leaders. The Jewish people were theirs to rule, for all practical purposes. Sure, sure, the Romans were over them, but when it came to the day-to-day things and anything having to do with religious law, the Council of seventy elders, led by the High Priest, was in charge.

So they tried to trap Jesus into saying something or doing something for which they could legitimately arrest Him. They didn’t realize they were dealing with the perfect Son of God. They were never going to catch Him in a sin.

Finally they resorted to lies, claiming outlandish things such as that He blasphemed. In other words, they maligned His character. But they’d been doing that for days and days, even accusing Him at one time of being in league with the devil. They said He was a drunk, a party-er, a Sabbath-breaker. Anything He did, they tried to turn into a reason to have Him arrested.

Jesus’s followers experienced the same treatment. Peter and John were thrown into prison though the rulers and elders and scribes had no charges to bring against them. After all, the only thing they’d done was heal a lame man and preach about the resurrected Christ. The Council released them the next day but threatened them and ordered them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Yep, that’s straight from Intimidation 101: “Stop what you’re doing, or I’ll make sure you stop for good!”

But what did Peter and John do? In this instance, they answered the leaders by saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge” (Acts 4:19b). Then they joined a prayer meeting.

It’s interesting to think about the fact that they didn’t have the end of the story. They didn’t know if they’d be killed the next day or if God would miraculously save them. So they joined their companions and prayed:

Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30)

Clearly we can see on this side of the events that God answered this prayer. Peter and the other disciples did in fact speak with boldness, and God did continue to heal through them and produce signs and wonders through the name of Jesus.

Of course, Peter was arrested again and miraculously saved, but eventually, according to Church tradition, he died for his faith. We could look at the Apostle Paul and see a similar trajectory. Preaching and healing, followers, leaders in opposition, arrest and/or death threats. He was kicked out of towns, stoned and left for dead, beaten. In Greece he was forced to escape alone and head for Athens. In Damascus he got away in the middle of the night by hiding in a basket lowered over the wall.Inernet

Yes, the early Church knew a thing or two about being bullied, intimidated, and maligned. I may not like being treated badly, I may not like being misunderstood, but really . . . I sure haven’t “resisted unto death” yet.

It would help if I grew a sense of humor about such things, but it would also help if I followed Peter and John’s examples: choose to do what God says rather than giving in to intimidation; and pray.

Promoting or Spamming

From time to time I bring up the topic of promotion in regards to authors getting the word out about their books. Because I’m in contact with a number of authors via email loops, writers’ groups, and Facebook, I see a lot of promotion. Some good and some … well, quite frankly, it feels like spam.

Last May I wrote a post about this topic called (cleverly 🙄 ) “Promotion, Promotion, Promotion.” As Christmas draws closer, I see even more frequent mentions of books by authors. Understandable.

But I also realize that my response to some has become automatic—delete without reading. I see some names and I know what’s coming. I don’t need to open the message.

Granted, I haven’t reported the sender as spam for various reasons, but I wonder if I shouldn’t unsubscribe or take some of these names off my list of friends. Already I’m picky about what books I want to become a fan of because I understand now that this is essentially signing up to receive promotional material. Do I really need more messages to delete?

But how else is an author to get the word out about his book?

I came across something similar when I was trying to let Christian speculative readers know about the Clive Staples Award. I sent group emails to people I thought would have a vested interest in the award, either now or in the future, but I wonder how many were deleted unread.

Whenever I think this through, I eventually come to a position I think is right—meaning, it is consistent with Scripture. Granted, the Bible doesn’t address marketing or promotion, but it does tell me to be kind; to love my neighbor as myself; to take the lower position at the banquet table, not the favored one. Jesus gave us an example of humility by coming in the form of a servant. John the Baptist pointed to Christ and said, He must increase and I must decrease.

So it seems to me those same principles can guide an author in decisions about promoting his work. If the notification is informative, helpful, more concerned about others than about sales, and pointing ultimately to Christ, then I think promotion won’t feel like spam. How could it? The recipient should feel placed in a position of importance rather than in the role of consumer.

Ah, but this seems so much easier to theorize about than to actually do! 😕

(By the way, is it spam that I linked to my own article in this post? YIKES! 😮 )

Published in: on December 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm  Comments (4)  
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