I am a heretic and I talk to my cat, Gustavo — It’s on the internet, so it must be true

Usually, I do not respond to folks who engage name-calling. When folks attach words like “apostate,” “heresy”  or “theological celebrity” to me, especially when left by people named “guest” or “anonymous,” my guess is that they are NOT interested in having meaningful conversations. Also, I know that there is no way I can respond with, “I know you are, but what am I” with any modicum of graciousness.

Yesterday, though, I received an alert from Wikipedia that someone had just made some edits to the article about me. The word “Heretical” caught my attention.

It was corrected pretty quickly by a friend on mine who I will now refer to as Wiksignor Landon Whitsitt. But oh yeah, I screenshot it before it could be corrected.

The first change was in the description of what KIND of minister I am:

And the second was describing the kind of heretical work I am involved in and why.

And then this morning, yet another change was made. This one is one more absurd than the first two; while I may talk to my dog, I am allergic to cats ;-)

Now I have no idea who is doing this. All that he article history says is that these updates are being posted by an anonymous user with the ip address: 151.201.12.39. My guess is that the person probably knows me or has some connection to me. I am not that well-known, so I also bet that it is a member of my own denominational family . . . though that would make me very sad.

In any case, I lift this up not because I want folks to defend my honor. Heck, I DID work on a controversial collection sacred texts. Plus, I’m working on another new book project, so this is buzz-creation with which I have no issue. I just wish somewhere he/she included some reference to a past affair with a troubled movie star or told of the time that I risked my life and ignored my allergies to save my grandmother’s kitten from a burning building.

Oh a boy can dream.

Anyhoo . . . I lift this up because I think whoever this is missed a prime opportunity to actually lift up the fact that some may indeed believe that my work is controversial, even heretical. You see, wikipedia is NOT about trying to win or lose, but about a group of people doing their best to get as close as they can to the objective truth about any particular subject. I have edited my own article to correct or add information, others have approved or rejected those changes and in the end there is a decent view of me.

So 151.201.12.39 , if that is indeed your real name, you could have put something like:

Bruce was part of a church council who has compiled a controversial group of ancient texts titled “A New New Testament” by Hall Taussig. These texts and his involvement have been characterized as heretical by some and welcomed by others.

There could be links back to other wikipedia or published articles on the publication, the author and/or the word “heretical” — all helping the reader to discern the truth about this person named Bruce Reyes-Chow. In some contexts, passive-aggressiveness and mean-spirited snark are the norm and might persuade, but on wikipedia, 151.201.12.39 has probably undercut any chance to actually convince people that I am indeed a heretic, which I assume was the hope all along.

So if you want to leave snarky comments and call me names on my blog, I have no problem leaving up them for people to see, but that kind of of unsourced opinion does not play on Wikipedia. Conflict and disagreement are not bad and I do not believe that I am above any of it, but the kind of arguing and discourse that goes on in most places on the internet is simply not part of the wikipedia experience . . . and I wish the rest of life.

Again, I am not looking for people to defend my honor with colleagues or pile on the trolls. What I hope for is that, even in times when we disagree with one another so deeply on issues of the Christian faith, we can do so always knowing, believing and living the challenge that it is to be the Body of Christ. This is my prayer and I’m sticking to it.

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