Forget about the feuds between the North and the South, the Hatfields and McCoys or even “West Side Story’s” Sharks and the Jets.
Dubbed the “A-POP-calypse,” we — at least in the world of pop music — are in the middle of a battle royale between the Katy Cats and the Little Monsters, the fans (or “stans” as they’re called) of singers Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.
A “stan” is an obsessively devoted fan of a celebrity, taken from an Eminem song about a fictional character, Stan Mitchell, whose celebrity worship drives him to kill.
It seems that both Perry and Gaga released songs at the same time, which fueled their stans to take to social media and trash talk in an effort, not just to propel their cherished pop diva to the coveted No. 1 spot, but to destroy the other.
These stans/fans are vicious! I heard that some Little Monsters are wishing AIDS on Katy Cats or anyone else who dares to diss their diva.
The ’N SYNC/Backstreet Boys fan feuds of the ’90s pale in comparison.
And now that it’s football season, New York Jets fans are getting ready to unleash their vitriol against New England Patriots fans.
It seems like we can’t simply be for something; we also have to be viciously against whoever or whatever is the “versus” or other of the object of our fandom. To be a Jets fan or a Gaga fan isn’t enough. We must be a Patriots or Katy Perry hater.
Likewise, you can’t be just a conservative (or liberal) simple because you agree with that point of view; you have to consider the other side your enemy.
During the 2008 election, some of the loudest shouters said to oppose Barack Obama meant you were racist.
Similarly, those who say they’re for traditional marriage get labeled as gay haters.
Everybody is throwing rocks at everybody else — and people are getting hurt.
This is nothing new. From our earliest times, long before Internet and social media wars, people hurled rocks at each other. Swift, brutal justice. Don’t like someone or something? Pick up a rock and throw it.
It went on for centuries until Jesus came and messed things up.
In one of my favorite gospel stories, a woman is caught in adultery. Never mind that it takes two and there’s no mention of the man she’s with, she’s yanked out of her house naked and dragged to the temple courts where Jesus is teaching.
In a ploy to trick Jesus, the religious leaders demand, “The Law of Moses commands we stone such women. What do you say?”
I love what Jesus does next: He writes on the ground with his finger. In the TV series, “The Bible,” Jesus picks up a rock as if to throw it. Tension builds. Will he or won’t he?
Instead, he says, “Go ahead and stone her — let the one who is without sin throw the first one.”
Since none are sin-free, they all put down their rocks and walks away. Once they’re gone Jesus says to the woman, “Where are your haters? Has no one condemned you?”
Filled with relief and awe she replies, “No one condemns me, Sir.”
Then Jesus tells her the best news of the gospel: “Neither do I condemn you. Go in peace and leave your life of sin behind” (John 8:1-11, my paraphrase).
Every one of them dropped his rock.
“The problem with throwing rocks is that rocks don’t hit sin; they hit people,” writes Nicole Johnson writes in her book, “Drop Your Rock.”
She adds, “We’re too sophisticated today to be flinging hunks of granite, but the words we throw in judgment and outrage are as hard and cold as any stone — and the release we feel when we let them go can be just as exhilarating.”
It feels good to throw rocks, to hurt people who hurt us or even those who are simply different from us.
However, Jesus calls us to put our rocks down, because rock throwing doesn’t change hearts. Only love does that — love that leads to repentance, repentance that leads to forgiveness, forgiveness that leads to reconciliation, reconciliation that leads to freedom and freedom that enables us to put down our own rocks and leave them down.
Only that will bring about change — the change that may one day stop the all hate.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at email@example.com.