A 'friend' texted me in the middle of the night last week to tell me an article of mine on tattoos had received 300 Facebook comments.
My sleepy internal monologue: "How rude! It's the middle of the night, mate.
"I don't care what those keyboard heroes say anyway! That pack of haters never say nice things about me!
"And what if I'd given up Facebook for Lent? I didn't, but how rude. Still, that's a lot of comments ... they can't all be negative. Maybe one of my friends wrote a nice comment; maybe both of them did!
I mean, it was a good opinion piece in my opinion. Humorous and light-hearted, yet, informative.
And I didn't say "don't you dare get a tattoo!", I merely said "think about it first".
No, there's no reason for the trolls to attack me this time; I think I'm pretty safe."
I leapt joyfully out of bed as if Dane Swan had come out of retirement, fired up the computer and began reading the comments:
"This guy should keep his opinions to himself!" Pfft. Hypocrite.
"He should be talking about the homeless." Dude, if I only talked about the homeless every sermon, I'd soon be homeless.
After a few minutes (hours?) of this light reading, I dejectedly collapsed back into bed.
Turns out you don't have to be asleep to have a nightmare.
A common theme that ran through these less than encouraging commentaries is perhaps best presented as the adage: "You cannot turn back the clock".
English philosopher GK Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote: "There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, 'You can't put the clock back.'
"The simple and obvious answer is 'you can.' A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour.
"In the same way society, being a piece of human construction, can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed."
When the Julian calendar replaced the Roman republic calendar, a discrepancy of almost one day for every 314 years was discovered.
To remedy this perceived inaccuracy in their calendars, in 1582 most of Europe erased the 10 days between October 4 and 15, which proves you can also turn the clock forward if enough people agree.
Of course, this is what people say; not what they mean.
What they mean is that times have changed.
But even that is a non-sequitur statement at best, and a deceptive statement at worst.
A mother says to her daughter: "You're not living with your boyfriend!
"You're only 18, he's much older than you and you don't know what you are getting yourself into."
The daughter replies: "Mum, times have changed. You're living in 1950. It's 2019."
Everyone living is living in the present that we call 2019.
Even the dead can't live in the past.
It's too brazen to say "do and think exactly as everyone else does".
But that's the advice we give when we say "times have changed".
Yet time is the measurement of change.
Times don't change. People change.
In recent years, many views have become vogue and even law in Australia based on arguments that relied heavily on the desire to "get with the times".
Last week, the kingdom of Brunei brought into law death by stoning for those caught in homosexual acts or adultery.
Any Australian with an ounce of compassion would surely see this law as unacceptable and utterly wicked.
Imagine if Brunei authorities told police officers who disagree with this new law "times change".
As a wise priest once said "Times don't change. People change."
I like that saying. I think I'll get it on a tattoo.