Posted on | December 23, 2011 | 19 Comments
“Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.”
— Genesis 50:20 (KJV)
It’s strange sometimes how you find stuff to blog about. Some people are systematic — Smitty’s always sending me stuff he finds with a newfangled doohickey called a “feedreader” — but I’m kind of random myself.
Last night a reader e-mailed to say that Allahpundit had “stolen” the Virginia ballot-access story from me. You can compare Allah’s 8 p.m. post to the post I put up at 5:33 p.m. (extended with multiple updates), and see whether you think I might have merited at least a hat-tip. However, as I pointed out in replying to my e-mailer:
A. You can’t copyright an idea; and
B. Nobody owns the facts.
There have been occasions when some bloggers have made outrageous accusations that their material was “stolen” by other bloggers. Such accusations are always tiresome and usually mistaken. And in this particular case, it wasn’t as if I was down in Richmond doing original reporting from the Virginia elections office.
No harm, no foul.
Then I got looking at some of the comments on the Hot Air thread about the Virginia ballot story, and the internecine hostility was off the hook. People calling each other trolls and stuff, threatening to get people banned, etc. And toward the end, as the comment flamewar was petering out, somebody wondered why certain commenters had stopped flaming, and another commenter said he thought everybody had run off to the Quote-of-the-Day post. So I decided to check that out, and found this item about an analysis of Ron Paul’s personal investment portfolio, made public as part of his required FEC disclosure:
“At our request, William Bernstein, an investment manager at Efficient Portfolio Advisors in Eastford, Conn., reviewed Rep. Paul’s portfolio as set out in the annual disclosure statement. Mr. Bernstein says he has never seen such an extreme bet on economic catastrophe. ‘This portfolio is a half-step away from a cellar-full of canned goods and nine-millimeter rounds,’ he says.”
Which is a damned fine quote, I think everyone will agree.
But I never would have known about that, if it hadn’t been for the e-mail about Allah “stealing” the Virginia ballot story. This goes to show, I think, the lesson that Joseph derived from his experiences: His brothers hated him for being the favorite, and were willing to leave him to die, but one brother was merciful enough to suggest that instead they sell Joseph into slavery.
Perhaps you know the rest of the story: By God’s grace, Joseph rose to become a mighty minister in the kingdom of Egypt. And when the famine came, Joseph’s brothers were sent to seek food in the Pharoah’s kingdom. They did not recognize the minister as their lost brother Joseph, but he recognized them, and contrived to bring the whole family to Egypt.
When at last Joseph revealed to his brothers the truth — that he, the powerful vizier on whose goodwill they depended, was in fact the brother they had spitefully sold into slavery — his brothers were terrified at the prospect of his vengeance. But he sent them to fetch their father, and when the family was reunited, Joseph told his brothers, “ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.”
Being a miserable excuse for a Christian, I rarely resort to preaching. Yet we are saved by God’s grace and not by our own merit, and nothing is so awesome to contemplate as the sovereignty of God, who has power to save whom He will, even the most wretched of sinners. And to those whom God favors He bestows blessings, preserving against all peril.
Now think about Joseph, who suffered the shame of bondage and yet remained faithful to God. Joseph rose to a position of authority and, through the blessing of prophetic dreams, was able to provide lifesaving food to his brothers when the famine came. His brothers deserved no favor from Joseph, yet he saw that the evil they had done him was somehow part of God’s will, a blessing and not a curse.
How ironic (but not, I think, accidental) that the “Quote of the Day” was about Ron Paul’s “doomsday portfolio” — much like Joseph storing up grain for the prophesied seven-year famine.
Whether or not the Apocalypse is around the corner (“the ancient Mayans could not be reached for comment“), we know that most of us will at some point in our lives experience hard times and trouble. And we do not know in advance who will be there to help us when we need help. But like the traveler waylaid on the road to Jericho, we find that whoever helps us in our time of trouble is truly our friend, our neighbor, our brother.
So the person we may think of as our enemy — the despised Samaritan, or the brother we sold into slavery — could some day prove to be that “angel unaware” whom God has sent for our deliverance. Or it may be that we unexpectedly find ourselves in a position to act the part of the Samaritan in the parable, showing mercy to those who hate us.
As I say, I am a miserable excuse for a Christian, full of stiff-necked pride and prone to wrathful anger. Nevertheless, God is merciful toward me and so when I saw all those commenters slicing each other up at Hot Air, quarreling over nothing in the comments on that “stolen” post — well, wasn’t that exactly the lesson I needed to see?
Evidence of God’s love and mercy is everywhere around, if only we’ll take the time to look for it. For if God is sovereign, even an atheist is somehow part of the Divine Plan, and we dare not presume to know what purpose God has in mind for Allahpundit, when surely even Allahpundit doesn’t know.
Was my post “stolen”? I can’t make any such accusation, as the facts of the story aren’t my personal property, and certainly I don’t always bother to determine which blogger was “first” with a story before blogging about it myself. If bloggers hate me for every time I failed to give them a link or hat-tip they deserve, there would be a lot of bloggers hating me, too.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, you see. If we spend our lives looking around for reasons to hate people, we’ll find plenty of reasons, and next thing you know we’ll be like those crazy-ass commenters flaming each other in one of those Hot Air posts with 400 comments, where it gets to the point that the angry arguments in the comments have absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the post.
King of the Comment Trolls is not my idea of a worthy career ambitiion.
Blogging as therapy is an interesting concept, and I suppose some of my venting serves a therapeutic purpose, but you can’t make a career in the New Media racket simply by unloading your emotional baggage onto a blog. Or at least, that’s a limited readership niche, and Amanda Marcotte’s already got it covered pretty good.
Life is too short to be angry all the time, constantly on the lookout for new names to add to your enemies list. It’s only two days until Christmas, and the day after that I fly out to Iowa. Why should I waste time being angry because my blog didn’t get linked somewhere? With so many blessings to be grateful for — including tip-jar hitters — why sit around making myself miserable?
Merry Christmas, everyone — and may God bless you, Allahpundit!