Embarrassing because reports began to surface about the rise in new members for Satanic groups and Wiccan covens due to kids reading Harry Potter, only to discover the “facts” and quotes being used as proof were lifted straight from a satirical story by The Onion. You can read the details of it at Snopes. At the end of the Snopes article is a quote that sums up the whole mess:
If The Onion’s parody has demonstrated anything, it’s that we should be worrying about adults not being able to distinguish between fiction and reality. The kids themselves seem to have a pretty good grasp of it.
A scathing indictment on many ministers and Christian leaders, who failing to use discernment and do any fact checking, swallowed whole-hog information dished out to them as factual, but in reality based on a fictional, satirical article. Let’s hope they subjected their theology to more academic rigors than just accepting as fact what their professors said.
Is this type of Three Stooges behavior endemic of the Christian culture?
Not really. You don’t have to look any further than politics to answer that question. Talking points with a group’s own spin on them are used in lockstep by most news organizations, usually without any fact checking. Opinion quotes are used as self-evident truths.
Even I fell to this temptation. I wrote an article on my blog titled, “Stop Online Piracy Act” and Indie-Publishing. I based my info on a New York Times article. It wasn’t until a few days after that article went live that I actually read the act itself. I realized it wouldn’t do what I’d been led to believe it would. YouTube and the like wouldn’t be doing anything different.
Lynch Mob Mentality
We are all subject to it at times. It is easier to take someone’s word for it than to check it out yourself. Especially if you tend to trust them. The problem is, no one is infallible, no matter how wonderful you might think they are.
Trust But Verify
Not too many months ago, Goodreads had to step in because readers lynched an author. She committed a faux pas that certain readers latched onto, and it snowballed into various tactics like putting her book into derogatory categories and posting a lot of one star reviews.
I’ve come to the point when anyone yells the sky is falling, I want to see their sources and decide for myself before jumping on any band wagons.
All too frequently those band wagons aren’t running to worthy goals, but away from unworthy fears.
Perhaps if we practiced a little more discernment in all our lives, we’d use it without thinking when it comes to Christian fiction. Then we can base our reviews on actual analysis rather than an Onion article.