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  • The Sacred Act of Giving by Keith Ecker

    Welcome congregants. Today’s sermon is a timely one. Giving.

    Tis the season of giving. So much fucking giving. Giving gifts. Giving your time. Giving a damn. Giving a hello! Giving a shit. Giving a fuck. Giving yourself. Giving peace and blessings, peace and blessings to all. All this giving, swirling around in the air like little snowflakes just demanding to be gobbled up by the fat fucking maw of an Indiana cherub strolling down Michigan Avenue with his sweat-panted parents as they mouth breathe upon window displays of Chinese-manufactured garbage. But even with such a flurry of generosity, there is one form of giving that reigns supreme above all others, the Christ child of giving, as it were - this is the sacred giving of opinions.

    Bless your little inconsequential opinions though they are weak and small and they amount to nothing but the beating of a housefly’s wings in the midst of a jet engine. They are fragile and malformed, built from frail materials like whatever you just read on ThinkProgress or Breitbart.com or your cousin’s social media feed, with all of its Drake memes and Miley Cyrus hot takes.

    But neigh, though your opinions may be meek, they become loud, amplified by the miracle that is Facebook, which serves as a divine echo chamber in which your tiny critiques can flutter around like heavenly angels, fraternizing with like-minded thoughts until what once was your little opinion becomes an earthquaking tidal wave of dogma hellbent on crushing any naysayer under the heel of its blessed boot.

    Oh praise thee Mark Zuckerberg for casting light onto what was once a dark and barren earth in which the Lord’s flock was forced to sit isolated in thought, captive with our own opinions. We were islands of judgments, secluded from giving our points of view, save for the occasional phone call or dinner party that we never really liked going to anyway. We were little powderkegs of ideas, bottled up with our observations, just waiting to explode like a geyser blasting pithy musings and political rants into the stratosphere. And so the world suffered because its people would never know that you thought 9/11 was an inside job or that you went to the Girl and the Goat and ate some delicious savory foam thingy.

    But now, now with His holiness the Facebook accompanied by the celestial Twitter and Instagram, we have sledgehammered the walls that separated us, breaking down the dam to unleash a torrent of thought across the jagged stones of reality. Now - with “likes” raining down upon us like manna from heaven - we dance in merriment atop our shared opinions like an Italian grape stomper smashing out sweet sweet nectar of the gods, but instead of our toes, we use our fingers and instead of wine, we are producing think pieces about how white women feel about black women in yoga studios or about how that one white woman thought she was a black woman or about how that one dress looked black and blue. And those aforementioned stones of reality? They become ever-smoother, ever more uniform in nature as the tide of opinion erodes all edges, diminishes every nuance, until your opinion and my opinion and the opinion of your neighbor become one unified and indistinguishable holy trinity.

    What evolves is a passion play of partisanship, with two opinions, one being good - and the good opinion being yours of course - and one being evil. And so the struggle for good is a struggle for purity of thought. And so good versus evil becomes not a thing of Biblical fable but of real consequence, where if you give prayer at the alter of social media hard enough, perhaps you can convert the opposition, or at least banish the evil opinion back to the depths of whatever fiery hell - or Internet troll - from whence it came.

    And who has bestowed this right upon us to pass opinion like so much hot flatulence? Why divine authority. Just as the trees sprout leaves and the birds give way to song and a guy on Tinder fills your inbox with dick pics, our minds - manufactured in the assembly plant of the eternal in the time before we were born - naturally formulate opinions. If you have a thought, then you have a right to share it, no matter how air-filled that thought may be. Obama is a Muslim? Lean cuisines are food? Rahm is a heck of a mayor? If your mind thinks it, your fingers can type it and we can all read it. And thus your ideas become enshrined in the temple of our collective consciousness.

    And it is here where we must pause to reflect on the true gift that is giving one’s opinion. For we do not merely espouse our thoughts just to hear the beauty that is our own voice. Neigh, opinions are the tools by which we craft society, by which we modify our realities. We wield opinions like kitchen mallets, pounding the chicken breasts of the mind into delicious piccata because it is our earthly duty to save others from having brain porridge. We fling our opinions into the ether of the Internet to let humanity know we are alive, to cry out, “I exist, and I have a thought about Justin Bieber!” We give our opinions as a form of charity, expecting nothing in return save for complete agreement. And should we encounter the demon that is opposition or - the lesser imps of follow-up questions and requests for clarifications - we must stand strong with opinions deeply rooted in the ground like a mighty oak, an oak that believes racism is a card pulled by lazy welfare queens and that Mexicans are taking all of our jobs.

    So remember, God has given you the power to formulate and cast opinion as a way to shape His kingdom and his flock. Do not disappoint God. Give your opinion freely. Give it often. Give as Jesus gave his life on the cross. And if one day you come to find your opinion is wrong, do just as Jesus did upon his death and pull a total 180. That way, you will always be right - not just right with God - but just right.