Saturday, June 21, 2008

God Fearin's 10 Laws of Proper Internet Communication

Breaking any of these rules quickly identifies you as low class:

1. Smiley faces are only acceptable among friends and when smiling AND when they are meant. They are never acceptable as condescending tags at the end of a point made (and ironically they are usually placed at end of a really dumb point.)

Acceptable: Hope you had a good day. :)

Unacceptable: Well, if you like worshiping idols go right ahead. :)

2. Winks are acceptable on even rarer occasions.

3. In fact, just don't use emoticons.

4. Never precede a statement with "Uhh" or "Uhm" unless it's followed by a humbling admission and even then it's better to say "Uhm" than "Uhh". "Uhh" typically has a stronger sarcastic connotation than "uhm" in my experience.

Acceptable: "Uhhh.. I'm not sure about which version I saw that in but I'm pretty sure it's an accurate quote".

Unacceptable: "Uhhh which version are you reading?"

5. Don't hide an insult inside a compliment.

Unacceptable: Really, I expected more out of you. You're better than that.

6. Do not break one or more of these rules or any other ad hominem infringement or engage in someone without professionalism and charity and then end with "peace in Christ" or "pax vobiscum" or any other such departure. If your message says #@*&! off, it doesn't help that in closing you wish them well. In fact, it makes you double tongued.

7. Even worse than number 6 is the infamously condescending departure "I'll be praying for you". It is the ultimate lie - taking something as holy as prayer to God and using it as a weapon of condescension and insult towards another Christian (or anyone) is shameful and to be blunt: sinful.

8. Do not use respectful titles such as Mr., Miss, Mrs., Sir or Mam unless you mean them out of respect. Given our shamefully informal culture, here's a hint: they are rarely used out of respect. "Sir" is almost never used properly on the internet.

Acceptable: Mr. Smith claims that I believe X when in reality I said Y.

Unacceptable: I am doing X while you sir, are doing Y.

9. Do not use "LOL" or any equivalent in an internet conversation unless you are responding to something which the author intended you to laugh at.

Unacceptable: LOL. That's a completely whitewashed version of history.

10. Never, I repeat NEVER, under any circumstance use *chuckle* in any way among friends or enemies, men or women, humanoids or robots on the internet.

Unacceptable: Mr. Smith asserts that the early Church believed in the Eucharist. *chuckle*

We've all run across them in comboxes, forums and elsewhere. The dreaded "internet weenies". I don't know what these people are like in real life. I hate to guess. I'm not sure what motivates them but I suspect hate. The Protestants I meet who fit this category are driven, I think, by their hate for the Catholic Church. The liberal secularists or liberal Catholics (what's the freakin difference I know) are driven by their hate for ... well the Catholic Church.. Hmmm.. I'm starting to notice a pattern.


George Weis said...

Good rules Tim,
However I may be guilty of the smiley face issue, but I'll refrain from using one here!

I see that True Faith boiled something out of you even if classified as Humor.

I hope you haven't felt this sarcasm from me my friend! And if I do say "I pray this or that" I actually mean it. However, I try to steer clear of the "I'm praying for you" That is an easy one to break!


Tim A. Troutman said...

LOL. Mr. Weis, I appreciate your comments. :) You sir, are right about True Faith ;). Uhh, where was I going with this? Oh yea.. I'm breaking all my rules to show that there are exceptions among friends. *chuckle* oops.. no exception for that one. My apologies.

Anyway, to be more serious, I have never for a second thought that you didn't mean something you said. You have consistently used emoticons etc.. in their proper ways. That is, I always get the impression that you really are offering a friendly smile instead of a condescending "if only you were as smart as me you'd know this by now :) " So no I didn't have you in mind for ANY of these and I dont think I've ever thought you weren't sincere. That's a good quality you have: sincerity.

Me on the other hand, I have broken some of these in the past when I've been careless (and not just in letter, I've broken them in spirit I mean).

So, it's always something we can all work on. Sometimes we're perfectly sincere but can be easily misunderstood.

So .. Peace in Christ and I'll be praying for you. ;)

(And I do pray for you)

arturovasquez said...

I just wanted to give you mad props for your comment on the Wedgewords blog. You made some interesting points that I didn’t bring up in a very articulate and cohesive way. However, down the page I found something a bit problematic, and I hope it is not too presumptuous to correct a minor use of phrasing:

“Why does it matter what we do with our bodies or our material things if it's truly only the heart that matters? Anyone who does not already plainly recognize why is probably already guilty of neo-Platonism.”

In reality, Platonism is much more “corporeal” than what people commonly believe, and the physical is very much at the beginning of the ascent to the truth. Plato always believed that the first step to appreciate spiritual beauty is to learn to appreciate physical beauty; beautiful things are the sine qua non without which man remains in his base state of untransformed and unreflective life. If you could accuse anyone of the error you mention above, it would be Plotinus, who according to his biographer Porphyry, was ashamed to be seen in the body. Even Plotinus, however, uses physical analogies from temple worship and the sculpting of the self as one would sculpt a statue to articulate his philosophical ideas. By the next generation of Neoplatonists, starting with Iamblichus of Chalcis, religious rituals move to the forefront of philosophical thought with the doctrine of Neoplatonic theurgy. In theurgy, the soul has so fallen into the body that the only way to climb out of it is to use the sympathetic symbols in material things (stones, water, animals, etc.) to climb back up the cosmic ladder to the ineffable and primordial One. Through material things used in rituals, the soul re-learns how to be divine. This thinking was passed onto the Church to some extent via Pseudo-Dionysius, and formed much of Christian mystagogy up until to the Middle Ages and beyond. Indeed, the greatest reviver of Neoplatonism in the Renaissance and translator of Plato, Marsilio Ficino, was considered more of a “magus” and less of a philosopher due to his interest in theurgy.

I am sorry if such a correction seems a bit strange, but as a self-proclaimed Christian Neoplatonist and lover of liturgy, I just feel I need to correct popular misconceptions that people have of Neoplatonism. In any event, keep up the good work and God bless.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Mr. Vasquez,

Thanks for the comments. I am surprised to hear your objection to my use of neo-Platonism but I won't defend my usage because I am admittedly under-educated in classicalism. I am only surprised because I have seen it used this way so often and by respected authors (NT Wright for example if my memory serves me well).

At any rate, I do not know for sure for myself so I can't really argue one way or the other. This will require some research on my part. Thanks for bringing it up though.

arturovasquez said...

The late Neoplatonists were very ritualistic and extremely conservative when it came to changing and neglecting the rites that were passed down to them. As Gregory Shaw writes at the end of his magisterial work, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus,

"This theurgical vision shaped the thinking of late Platonists such as Syrianus, Proclus, and Damascius, and its influence also extended beyond Platonic circles and well may be reflected in the sacramental theology of Christian thinkers. Indeed, the Church, with its ecclesiastical embodiment of the divine hierarchy, its initiations, and its belief in salvation through sacramental acts, may have fufilled the theurgical program of Iamblichus in a manner that was never concretely realized by the Platonists. In a sense that has yet to be examined, the Church may well have become the reliquary of the hieratic vision and practices of the late Platonists."

I think past scholars' bias against theurgical Platonism and neglect of the idea of the mutual influences in relation to the early Church come from a generalize rationalism in modern scholarship. I think the tide is moving little by little in the other direction.

Andrew Preslar said...

I wonder if the ascendency of Aristotelianism in the Catholic schools (c. 12th-13th cent) has anything to so with lingering suspicions of Plato. Yet, as has been pointed out, Platonism and Christianity are far from strangers. And, as hardly need be pointed out, Aristotle and Plato themselves were far from strangers. I happen to believe that the pupil surpassed his master, but I do not think that he did so by contradicting the great philosopher on every critical point. Both were, for example, realists. Its just that Aristotle found intelligible reality (the forms) a bit closer to home than did the master.

arturovasquez said...

Mr. Preslar,

The late Neoplatonists wrote many significant commentaries on the treatises of Aristotle and used them in their own pedagogies. In late Neoplatonic thought, Aristotle was considered a necessary preparation for initiation into the Platonic doctrines. Indeed, in the Neoplatonic schools, one started studying the treatises of Aristotle from the sciences to metaphysics, and only after that one began to study Euclid and mathematics (mathematics was considered the borderline between the material and the spiritual). Only after this would one begin studying the dialogues of Plato. But the Platonic dialogues were not the "height" of knowledge, even they were a preparation to study such "revealed" writings as the Chaldean Oracles, and the last grade of Neoplatonic pedagogy, one which only the best students would reach, was theurgy itself: the study of the significance, performance and power of the pagan rituals that made one god-like. So Aristotle was very much part of the ancient Neoplatonic curriculum, even if only at the very beginning.