The Churches of Telegram

Those were heady days to be an outcast, that summer of 2019.

The champions—some called them martyrs, others provocateurs and trolls—had been cast out of the marketplace of Facebook, banished from the polite conversation of Twitter, and sent to live in the desert of Telegram, where only a few of their previous followers had the courage to follow.

There, in the desert, they huddled together in small groups, sharing stories of their champions’ glorious battles against the forces of darkness, the nannies and scolds of feminism, the killjoys of socialism, and the harpies of the Woke. They all longed for the return of the good times when their champions had been at large, welcomed into the cities and onto college campuses by the crowds singing “Hosanna!” But for the time being, they found comfort and strength in the churches they were able to found dedicated to their various patrons, the martyrs of social media. 

Some followed Alex Jones. Others followed Laura Loomer. Others followed Tommy Robinson. Others followed Paul Joseph Watson. Others followed Gavin McInnes. Others followed Sargon of Akkad. Others followed Ali Alexander. (Others would have followed Roger Stone, but he was banned by order of the court from social media entirely.) Some followed more than one martyr; others formed their own groups. I followed Milo. (I know, you are shocked!)

To date, Milo’s channel has attracted some 19,030 subscribers—strong for Telegram, but tiny compared to the following that he had on social media before the procurators of Caesar threw the champions out. His chatroom is even more intimate, truly a place of contemplation and prayer. It started as the Fag Nation. Then it became the Fagocytes, then the Fag Palace, then Globohomo, Inc. Now it is Il + Vaticano. (Milo likes redecorating!) 

Il + Vaticano has 702 members, handpicked (aka invited) by the Holy Father (aka Queen, aka Chief Thot & CEO), all welcomed into the congregation by the Group Guardian Dragon with instructions on how to be fabulous: 
Welcome to the madhouse, N. Please remember, IL + VATICANO is not a democracy. Read the pinned rules and ensure you pay obeisance to your Queen daily. Except on Tuesday, if you’re a woman. On Tuesdays you should be doing the ironing.
The rules include such commonsense instructions as not attacking each other, being mindful of the public nature of all social media interactions, and remembering to have fun, as well as a list of the chat admins and a league table of merits and demerits for contributions to the chat.

I, the Queen Mother (aka Mother Superior, aka President, aka Fencing Bear), have been here from the beginning, the first member to be invited, the one with which the Church began. Yes, it is humbling to have so much responsibility for taking care of the chat; thank goodness I have fellow admins who also help oversee the conversation and guide it towards the good, the true, and the beautiful.

The members of the chat have many talents. Some write columns and make videos. Some care for children and grandchildren. Some offer spiritual advice. Some run their own businesses. Some make artwork and stickers for the chat. Some are students. Some are farmers. Some are furries. One is an awoo.

The language of the chat is English, but the faithful come from all over the world: America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, West Africa, Hong Kong, Israel, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Mexico, Spain. The ride never ends, and the chat never sleeps. Going to sleep means waking up to thousands of comments, stickers, and shares to scroll through. Politics, religion, education, the relations between the sexes, how to start a business, how to tame an awoo (Hint: You can’t!): we have debated all of these topics, and more.

Friendships have formed; there are rumors of dating. Some have even endeavored to meet in real life. But we all know that the real reason we are here is our Fag Queen, our Holy Father, who visits us daily, give or take a day—or three. He doesn’t want us to get complacent about when he might arrive! Sometimes he arrives quietly, sometimes he comes in with a splash. Everyone is eager to greet him.

Everyone longs for his touch. (All of you do, don’t kid yourselves!) He gives us tasks, sets competitions, introduces us to new members, and tests our resolve.

Some have found the tests daunting; others have been given extended periods of confession for being “egregiously repetitive or boring.” One has been excommunicated. Several have been blocked from the chat for their own good. Every so often, Milo issues an invitation on his channel for newcomers to join, at which point the older members of the chat either rejoice—or worry that the chat will lose the character we have worked so hard to build.

We laugh. We cry. We joke. And we pray for each other not to despair.

I think often these days about how the earliest Christians must have felt. They knew their Lord lived, but he had ascended into the heavens, leaving them behind. They had no idea when they would see him again, but he had promised that he would return. They gathered around Mary—we know that they did, it says so in Acts!—who must have told them stories about what her Son was like when he was young. They took courage from the willingness of the others who had known him to stand up to the authorities of the Temple and Empire against the threat of execution for blasphemy (St. Stephen) or treason (those who would not make sacrifice to the Emperor as God). They sang songs and told stories. They formed families and took care of the poor and the sick. They longed for the return of their Lord, for which they worked to be prepared. They built networks of communication, writing letters to churches in other cities and encouraging them in the faith. They developed their talents, in speaking, writing, and singing, creating the liturgy and rules for the maintenance of the church. They were few in number, powerless against the elite of their own day. But they were strong in their love for each other and for their Lord.

Christians have been here before. Christians know that our hope is not of this world. We look not to worldly institutions for prestige or support. Rather, we trust in the Lord’s promise that he will be with us always, even as we know we must be willing to take up the cross if we are to follow him in truth.

Quite literally, no one ever said it would be easy; exactly the reverse. Did you expect it to be easy living for God?

Only some of the stickers in the Fag Pack

For my continuing reflections on the way in which Milo is modeling the imitation of Christ, see The MILO Chronicles.


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