Are we ‘cultivating an online evangelical culture of self-projection. Trying our hardest, of course, not to look like we’re self-promoting. This is not where God’s power lies.’
Dan Ortland asks some hard questions about our use of Social Media.
How would you know that someone was really afraid to die?
At a superficial level we are tempted to think of it in terms of a fear of the moment of death itself. Perhaps the last few weeks of a terminal disease or the moments on board a plane as it plummets to the ground after a major malfunction. It’s this kind of fear of death that made Woody Allen quip ‘I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.’
So when we think of the fear of death we tend to reduce it to the fear of dying. But I’m not sure that does it justice. I want to argue that the fear of death is a much bigger idea that pervades more of life. It’s better expressed in another quote this time of Leo Tolstoy who said
My question – that which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicide – was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man … a question without an answer to which one cannot live. It was: ‘What will come of what I am doing today or tomorrow? What will come of my whole life? Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?’ It can also be expressed thus: Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy.
To the secularist the vague notion that maybe we actually live on in the afterlife has been rejected. So what hope now? Well we find the fear of death at work in surprising ways. In the vain hope that we can continue to be present, if not in reality, then through a computer programme that interacts on Facebook, etc., on our behalf. That, if you like, pretends that we have not gone forever.
So here we find the fear of death expressed in surprising ways as exemplified in this TED talk by Adam Ostrow entitled After your final status update
The fear of death is seen in increasingly desperate attempts to hold onto life. In our unwillingness to leave this life.
How do we respond as Christians?
It’s easy to want to laugh, maybe it all makes us want to cry but surely it reminds us that our message of the one who has defeated death and promised life to all who are in him is a message every human soul is primed to need to hear.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says in chapter 3:10-11
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart
It is that burden we see expressed in the world and it is that burden that only the gospel answers. Peter in his first letter writes;
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you
Let us then be bold to continue to speak of him who alone has beaten death and conquered the grave. The one who alone has the answer to the fear of death however it might reveal itself.
A fascinating article on digital media and what it is doing to us in the New York Times.
Bill Keller, Executive editor of the Times, declares himself to be no luddite but in a week in which he introduced his 13 year old daughter to Facebook he writes of the unforeseen, unintended consequences of pursuing digital technology;
‘My inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community connected by something deeper than snark or political affinity.’
‘The shortcomings of social media would not bother me awfully if I did not suspect that Facebook friendship and Twitter chatter are displacing real rapport and real conversation, just as Gutenberg’s device displaced remembering. The things we may be unlearning, tweet by tweet — complexity, acuity, patience, wisdom, intimacy — are things that matter.’
Slate has posted a great article called facebook is making us sad reporting on a study which reveals the sub-conscious impact that social networking sites can have on our sense of well-being. The article is published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
The conclusion of the study is that we feel anxious and even depressed whenever we compare ourselves with others because we almost always think that our facebook friends are doing better in life than we are. There is nothing new in those feelings but maybe Facebook exacerbates the problem because it suggests that everyone else out there is leading the perfect life.
Brian Houston makes us sad
Houston’s book You need more money: Discovering God’s amazing financial plan for your life could only be written by a rich Western Christian. I would love to hear him try to persuade the persecuted Christians in various Islamic countries that God has a purpose to bless them financially and make them rich in this life!
Here’s a taster:
If you are applying the Word to your life, God will bless you with prosperity and good success.
And then again:
Take a bit of time to think this through and if you still aren’t sure that God wants you to prosper, ask yourself these questions:
If God didn’t want you to get wealth, why would he give you the power to get it?
If He didn’t want you to be wealthy, why would He take pleasure when His people prosper?
And why would He promise prosperity and success if He preferred us to remain poor? Continue reading »
True friendship consists not in the multitude of friends, but in their worth and value – Ben Johnson
A man of many companions may come to ruin,but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother – Proverbs 18:24
Where God gives us opportunity let us be true friends today.
I’m a facebook fan as I pointed out in my earlier post but there are reasons to be cautious. Here are 13 factors that we need to bear in mind if we want to use this technology for the glory of God.
Don’t waste your life.
Procrastination. How much time is eaten up when we could be getting on with doing other, better things. Work, praying, hanging out with ‘real’ people.
Ill-discipline. How easy is it to stay up late into the night messing around – ‘just one more click’ we say to ourselves – even when friends have gone to bed we can continue ‘virtual friendships’.
Poor priorities. Fifty percent of Facebook users visit the site every day. I wonder whether even fifty percent of Christians read their Bible and pray every day. C.f. Psalm 1.
Addiction. As human beings we have sinful natures that are prone to addictive weaknesses. The very nature of certain technologies may make them harder to Continue reading »
‘Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire’ so said CS Lewis.
From the printing press to the invention of the internal combustion engine,TV, Personal Computer, Mobile Phone, every culture has had to adapt and adjust to new technology. Maybe you enjoyed watching the Butler struggling to come to terms with the introduction of the telephone in the final episode of ITV’s Downtown Abbey.
Technology often receives one of two reactions either uncritical reception or retreat. I’d like to advocate a third. Perhaps the more biblical position is to recognise that each new technology offers an opportunity: Redemption. Paul put it like this;
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Cor. 10:5
But given that over 500 million people use Facebook (which means if it were a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world!) and given that it is now the default mode of communication for the majority (200 million people check their facebook page once a day).
Today I make the case for
Facebook as a Friend – opportunity
How can we use Facebook as a force for good and as a way of building relationships.
- Use Facebook to keep in touch with one another: students on holiday, moving on with work, on graduation.
- Use Facebook to get back in touch with those who you’ve lost contact with. I’ve reconnected with old school friends and university friends many of whom Continue reading »
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