Thursday, May 31, 2012
What Facebook offers is an experience of community. Whether you believe in God or you are an atheist or agnostic (so this includes everyone), you know that humans are built for community. We don't do well and flourish by ourselves. Human flourishing can only come in the context of community. So Facebook gives us that, and that is why it is brilliant, and that is why it will not go away.
The only problem with it is that it is a very shitty version of community. We put forth our highly tailored best versions of ourselves to interact electronically with others. We share very shallow things and everyone criticizes us behind our back for it. We share very personal things and then everyone REALLY criticizes us behind our back. It is not possible to replicate the experience that is a face to face conversation. Speaking on the phone comes close, but we get frustrated because we can't see the non-verbals, we can't say something with our eyes, we can't reach out and punch the other, if the need should arise. If that is the case with the phone, how much more distant is the dream of conversation if it has to flow through our fingers? We have a microphone to the masses, but mostly we talk about sports, bitch about traffic and post pictures of cute and/or funny things.
If Facebook is such a shallow version of community, why are we constantly drawn to it?
Facebook is addicting only in direct proportion to how easy it is. If I can sit on my couch, in my jammies, and look at your family photos and read your post on how you feel about your latest haircut, then, sure, I'll take 76 seconds to do that. But if I have to get up, shower, dress decently, make an appetizer and buy a bottle of wine, drive to your house, eat dinner with you, and then and only then will you break out your photo album so I can see those same pictures...well, I might not get around to that as quickly. Maybe I'll do that with a small handful of my friends in any given year, but all 266 of my Facebook friends? Not likely.
Facebook is the McDonald's of community. McDonald's is a poor excuse for food, but it is very convenient and it is very cheap. If McDonald's charged $18.95 for a Big Mac and you had to dress up and drive downtown to get it, would you do it? We eat McDonald's only because, like a prostitute, she makes herself so available and easy. It's an unfortunate fact of the human experience that whenever something is easy and available you can be sure it's not good for you (wild mushrooms, jobs in coffee shops, community college).
Facebook scratches the itch that community creates. It's just that it is a microscopic scratch. And when you scratch weakly, what happens?
It makes the itch worse.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
One should always be careful to define themselves exponentially more by what they are for than what they are against. Dissatisfaction and rebellion must always be temporary states. If you grow dependent on those two things then you will always need the object of your rebellion in order to maintain your identity. Self righteous indignation gets old very fast. I think I do a decent job of not operating under its strict directives, but for me it is never far from the surface.
It is with the above in mind that I offer this POSITIVE way forward in my search for a church to call home:
"It’s time we stopped trying to build the unity of the church on a foundation of what WE BELIEVE, and instead started assuming our unity because of our RELATIONSHIP with the one we believe in—or more importantly because of the one who loves and believes in us. After all, Jesus did not say, The doctrines I will teach you are the way, the truth, and the life. What he said was that HE was the Way, the Truth, and the Life (cf. John 14:6). If unity cannot be achieved based on WHAT we believe, the only thing left is WHO we believe in." From Paradoxy, by Ken Howard.
I would love to find a church that would not only give verbal assent to this (that is incredibly easy), but would also be excited about living it out.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
"Yet the idea that evil is glamorous is one of the great moral mistakes of the modern age . . . Once the middle classes get their hands on virtue, even vice begins to look appealing. Once the puritan propagandists and evangelical mill owners redefine virtue as thrift, prudence, chastity, abstinence, sobriety, meekness, frugality, obedience, and self-discipline, it is not hard to see why evil should begin to look like a sexier option . . . the devil seems to have all the best tunes. Suburban virtue is a poor thing compared to Satanic vice. We would all rather have a drink with Dickens's Fagin or Emily Bronte's Heathcliff than a chat with the God of John Milton's Paradise Lost, who speaks like a constipated civil servant."
And let me head off this objection, here is my note I scribbled in the book underneath this passage: "Only thing is, tell us what to put in its place, otherwise you're just being glib." He's not really being glib, you can't say everything about everything, but I do identify with the frustration.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
"Damn you little kid."
These were the words that had come out of my mouth by the time I realized what I was saying. It was drawn out of me when the spoon full of sweet potatoes I was delivering to my 9 month olds mouth was, quick as lightning, batted from my grip.
Russell has a remarkable ability and reputation for doing this. But I still mistakenly attempt to win. And then I swear at child.
I'm trying to find a way where I come out looking less bad. The words felt truly involuntary--should we be responsible for instinctual responses we have no control over?
The session ended with me accidently dropping the container of food on the floor, which caused me to throw the spoon at the washer, so I don't think there's much for me to salvage, here.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
Here's a thought:
If you thought that the Bible promoted slavery, murder, and violence towards gay children then you would be right to call those parts of the Bible bullshit. Right?
In my next blog I plan to do a point by point response to the video above.
Also, here is a compelling and thoughtful response from a fellow gay activist to Savage's speech.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
This week's yet to be established award goes to journalist Dan Savage for the following quote:
"We ignore the bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things."
He said this to a room of high schoolers interested in becoming journalists. And the organization that brought him in to give his speech turned around and denounced him for "belittling the faith of others."
I understand that we live in a culture where it is simply unthinkable to talk like this in public about another person's religion--and we all suffer greatly for this fact. The luxury of walking around in a "no offensive talk allowed zone" comes at the cost of honesty and authenticity.
It is not a fair trade.
We should all hope and strive for civility, and yes, cussing at minors was not the wisest choice (as Savage later acknowledged), but his unflinching honesty regarding his take on the Bible is refreshing.
Try, if you can, to keep from retreating into the shallow waters of taking offense, and instead reward courage and truth when it is spoken, regardless of whether or not it confirms your worldview and makes you feel validated and warm inside.