|Virtual divine encounter?|
Before I continue, I should say that I'm not categorically opposed to what Epperly is saying in his post. In fact, I approach Facebook in similar ways, as a ministry opportunity to some (I would say limited) degree. So read on after the break for where Epperly and I may like to mince theological words; lovingly, of course, for the edification of the body...
I started to get cautious when Epperly offered "a Facebook theology," which he believes is based on the following affirmations:
- We are all connected with one another in an intricate web of relationships.
- Each moment of our lives matters and is holy, whether I am blogging, commenting on what I ate for breakfast, sharing wisdom, or responding to a friend's status report.
- We can be transformed personally and socially by our relationships and our awareness of the holiness of life.
I appreciate what brother Epperly is doing in his post because it is a likely corrective; we should be present in the moment and prayerfully aware of our interconnectedness, no matter what we're doing, including Facebook. I'm just trying to take it deeper. Theology without political/economic/cultural awareness is pretty "wimpy" in my view (the obvious value statement slipped in the title of my post). Overly individualistic theology (often described as "spirituality") allows faith practices to "play nice" within some pretty potentially demonic systems, e.g. Facebook's commoditization of every "friend," ever app you install, every quiz you take, and every "like." All the better by which to bombard you with targeted, scary-relevant ads.
We shouldn't be scared away from things like Facebook, but neither should we be ignorant of how they can so easily mis-shape our relationship with God as the body of Christ and our witness to the world, virtual or otherwise. [Thx, Sam!]
[Update]: Mere minutes after posting this, I saw this story (on Facebook!) by Cathleen Falsani: Where two or more are gathered ...on Facebook. Falsani's is a touching personal narrative of many of the same things that Epperly describes above. And again, I say: "That's great!" In the midst of finding constructive ways to faithfully engage with technology, I'll continue to periodically say "be wise." [Thx, Elizabeth!]
[Update 2]: I e-mailed and quickly received a very gracious response from Dr. Epperly, who not only affirmed my critique and signaled his resonance with it, but rightly pointed to the inescapable limits of writing on such creation-encompassing matters. He and I both agree that theology touches on all aspects of life, personal and collective, and choices must inevitably be made by people who write on such things. So between the two of us (and Falsani), hopefully we offer a robust theological reflection on the cultural liturgy of Facebook.