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Today I was going to blog about Chick-fil-A but since I am really tired of this story—and since most everything good and inane has already been written about it—I decided instead to write about my friend Josh.
Nearly a decade ago when some folks were just becoming acquainted with the very concept of web logging and the then-new shorthand term “blog,” Josh was getting out ahead of the curve in becoming not a blogger but a really skilled “vlogger,” someone whose web logs all came via short, skillfully edited (and often very humorous) video clips filmed and put together by Josh. He vlogged about domestic trips and international ones, searched for the best hot dog in his city, and much more.
Some years ago Josh met Sara, a member of the congregation I was serving as pastor, and they fell in love and decided to get married (and yes, Josh’s exceedingly clever proposal was caught on film with unsuspecting Sara, no less, holding the camera at the time!). I conducted their wedding (clips of which he posted online, and it’s the only time my kids ever took an interest in a wedding I had conducted—they particularly guffawed over the sped-up recessional sequence in which I looked like a pudgy Keystone cop in a clergy robe zipping out of the sanctuary).
Anyway, this is all set up to say that Josh is a clever and good guy. Last week he also got hacked by some anonymous, probably never-to-be-identified person who installed a gobot or virus or something I don’t understand. But whatever it was, it wiped out eight years’ worth of Josh’s vlogs and postings and the comments he had amassed. It looks like he can still recover most of his original footage but serious damage has been done to his work across the better part of a decade. The cyber attack doesn’t appear to have been particularly personal against Josh, doesn’t appear to be anyone he knows or someone he once filmed with bad lighting or something.
After Josh posted this unhappy news on Facebook, at least one of his friends commented to the effect “Why would someone do this?” Why indeed? Doesn’t make much sense. But then, that’s becoming increasingly the case in this world. Granted, what happened to Josh is not even remotely in the same league as the shooting in Aurora in July but random acts done for no reason other than to cause upset do share certain things in common. Worse, such things are becoming just that: common.
After the Aurora shooting someone remembered a line from the previous Batman film in which Bruce Wayne is trying to make some sense out of the psychotic Joker. At one point Bruce’s butler Alfred sums up the Jokers of the world this way: “Some people just like to watch the world burn.” When that tendency worms its way into an already psychopathic brain, the result can be a terrible shooting at midnight that randomly takes the lives of soldiers and six-year-olds. When that tendency crops up in unarmed but still vaguely twisted people, it results in cinderblocks being tossed off highway overpasses to see what will happen below and hackers with nothing better to do than make someone’s life a little miserable just because they can.
In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (the book version not the Peter Jackson films) the wizard Saruman had been seduced by the dark lord Sauron. As a result, the good wizard Gandalf has to deprive Saruman of his powers, snapping his staff and reducing him to the wizarding equivalent of a toothless old man. But Saruman gets away, leading one of the Hobbits to comment that the escape was probably no big deal since Saruman was finished anyway. Gandalf was not so sure, commenting that he believed Saruman was still capable of “some small meanness” at some point.
At the end of the story when the Hobbits return home to the Shire following the final destruction of Sauron and all his evil hosts, they encounter the small meanness of Saruman. Saruman had moved into the Shire, taken over, and proceeded to chop down just about every cherished tree there, including the beloved “Party Tree.” It wasn’t grandscale mayhem. It wasn’t rank evil. It was nothing compared to what Saruman had once been capable of nor in the same league of what Sauron and the now-melted Ring of Power had represented. But the ruining of the Shire was a small, mean act from an old man who just enjoyed watching at least a part of the world burn.
Whatever motivates these people and the acts, large and small, they perpetrate, it’s unhappily certain we won’t run out of such folks. We won’t rid ourselves of them by tougher laws, by violence, by more guns, by screaming at them, or by doing what I am doing here: exposing them for the small and mean and pointless people they are. That’s why, in an often senseless world, I return again and again to the only true Sense I can find and it’s the truth of Colossians 1 that somehow already now and most certainly in the ultimate future, “all things” hold together in Christ, “all things” make sense in Christ because through Christ “all things” have been and are being redeemed.
That faith-filled knowledge doesn’t take away all the pain for now. But it is good to know the One who just likes to watch the world get saved.
Thank you for these comforting and wise words, Scott. I'm so sorry about the loss of Josh's work, and I hope he can reconstruct it. But how sad.