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Internet “Experts”

Pity the poor Virginia-Highland Church. I was raising Cain this week about the Mississippi and North Carolina legislatures passing bills to protect people’s right to have just enough religion to be bigoted. Someone from Louisiana apparently took offense and decided to give the church a bad rating on our Facebook page … despite having never been here. We also have been blasted on Yelp in the past for things like using inclusive language in hymns and letting EVERYONE take communion. That is the downside of living in a highly connected world: everyone is able to say anything they want about anyone they want.

It has its upside, too, of course. I’ve avoided a number of bad Mexican restaurants in Atlanta thanks to other people’s ratings … which stuns me because I certainly have eaten at quite a few bad ones trying to find the good ones! I guess that is the point. After living in Texas for 22 years, we have a very different standard for good Mexican food than many of my dear friends in Georgia. Taking advice about more important things like health and investments and spirituality from online opinions is probably not much safer.

Many of us grew up in an era when we were taught to trust what we read, and it is taking us some effort to unlearn that. Even though I grew up in the 1960s, I still have to remind myself to question “authorities” like doctors, financial advisors, and preachers. It is important to ask questions, do research, and double check with my own soul.

It is amazing that I occasionally still find myself eating something I’ve eaten my entire life and suddenly realizing, “I don’t actually like this.” Even more frequently, I find myself reading something or hearing a preacher/teacher say something and thinking, “I don’t actually believe that any more.” With Bill’s sickness I’ve had to learn a lot. I was stunned to realize that he has a cancer that is pretty rare, and it terrifies me how little his doctor actually KNOWS. They really are practicing medicine … and we ALL are practicing life. Don’t let Internet experts be your guide.

Update: The critic from Louisiana deleted his post after we thanked him for taking the time to “review” the church and asking for more feedback about his visit so we could improve what we do.

Blessings,

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Rev. Michael Piazza

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