by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
Thanks to Doug Johnston, media guru, for getting my blog back. Now he says I should move over to WordPress. We will see.
Social media is a curious thing to me. I keep thinking of the quote,
“It’s always noisiest at the shallow end of the pool.”
Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, are so immediate and present. Henri Nouwen had several choice words to describe our culture’s milieu: Competitive, Chaotic, and Compulsive. The car may be the single most important American suburban cultural change agent. Suburban sprawl is only manageable with a car. All our life systems depend on the car: first and foremost is groceries. What a complex and fragile system. One huge fuel crisis and we are foodless. (I don’t like to ride my bike.)
What we miss is “village space” in suburbia. Media removes the need to gather. We can live completely apart and yet think we are “connected” via this right here: a blog entry. The church was supposed to be village space. (The other two spaces are private space – your living room; and the second space is public space like Walmart and airports.) But church is filled with compulsions: “What time does this service end?”
Facebook is a virtual village space. But like the car, we can leave any time we wish. Hospitality and social obligation (social contract) has lost its body. Social speed has become flighty and flickering like a late night neon motel sign in some unknown high-desert town in Utah. Each of us flickers and flashes online. Then we are gone.
Thank God there is still communion, the Lord’s Table. You have to show up, stand in line, dissolve your hurry-sickness, submit to the body and blood of Christ in others. The remembrance of communion includes remembering you are not an island, you are not a sovereign state, your skin is not a national boundary.
I answer social media with one loaf, one cup. Social media is what it is. I don’t dislike it. Instead, I study it as a prophet studies the signs of times, watching and turning my face toward God, and asking, “What does this mean?” It means our current cultural norm will not produce saints. Instead it will produce bloggers, talkers, drivers, wait-in-drive-thru-ers, impatience, chaotic time, exceptionalists, entitlement… harried living and tiredness… and not the unhurried rhythms of grace. Jesus walked and listened. We drive and tap.
G.K. Chesterton (1920s, British) despised the automobile. He wasn’t too excited about the horse. He said a proper human (by “proper human” he meant a large British man like himself) is supposed to walk – with a stick. A proper human is supposed to use an ink well and quill to write. Sounds impossible to us nowadays. But image how slow life would be if we walked to a neighborhood market each day, and wrote with ink and quill.
So I got my blog back, and now I can, you know, write stuff quickly.