Monday, May 16, 2011

Pardon me while I beat my head on this wall...

As some of you may know, I have found my spiritual home in a highly liturgical, hierarchical church. It's a bit of an odd fit for an out-of-the-box, flat-leadership sort of person, but there are a number of reasons that this is "just right" for me - some of which I understand, some of which as yet remain mysteries to even me. I have grown to love the liturgy, to look forward to singing the Psalms, to anticipate standing for the Gospel reading... I'm being formed by the rhythm of this life, and for this I am truly grateful.

But then there was yesterday. For the second time in as many years, an unprecedented series of events left our congregation without a minister on a Sunday morning. And for a host of reasons, in this case none of which I understand, the entire service had to be changed. Rather than the Sunday morning liturgy, we substituted a service of Morning Prayers. The Gospel was read from the pulpit rather than in our midst, and we sat for its reading. Eucharist was out of the question.

I'll be the first one to acknowledge that Morning Prayers were beautiful. The range of Scriptures read was profound, and, this week in particular, meaningful to me. A service that centered around Psalm 23 was touching, comforting, and a challenge to bring my personal sorrow into God's presence. The music, abbreviated as it was, was beautifully done and deeply moving.

But I was hungry, so hungry, for God's presence in the Eucharist. My entire body screamed to stand and acknowledge the wonder of Christ among us. I ached to hear of God's incarnation, and God's suffering. But because the right person, with the right credentials and right standing, was unavailable to our congregation at that precise time, I was turned away still hungry. Compliance with a set of rules, and observance of a hierarchical set of values, swept aside the beautiful rituals that have drawn me to this community. The grief and hunger of this community had to be set aside for tradition and "Order;" "playing it by the book" held precedence.

This, I beg, is a far cry from the freedom we've been granted in Christ, from the call to each of us as Christians to serve as Priests, from the promise (read in unison during yesterday's service) that wherever two or more are gathered, Christ is there with us.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Facebook : on the de/fence

I recently found myself surrounded by the last remaining trio of human beings who has not joined facebook. They're smart folks (brilliant, in fact) and more relational than your average group. But they had nothing good to say about social media - they decried it all (and fb in particular) as nurturing a false sense of connection and contributing to an overall shallow approach to relationship.
Now, I don't doubt their insights. We didn't engage the topic for long, and I'm sure their list of reasons for shunning this realm is well-reasoned and incontrovertibly defended. On the other hand, they don't stand a chance of convincing me. Why not? Well, for starters:

1) Social media developed organically out of our culture, for a reason. We westerners live fractured, distracted, commuter lives. This isn't the ideal for human flourishing, to be sure, and I certainly believe we should be active participants in subverting these dynamics. On the other hand, this is the reality we face. And social media allows us to continue to interact in spite of significant challenges to relationship. It streamlines planning for actual face-to-face contact, it allows virtual connection when physical meetings are impossible, and it reminds us that our lives are inevitably intertwined with a broad community.

2) In an era of high mobility (both chosen and forced) social media can help us maintain a level of connection to our roots. Unlike letters every other month (the story of my childhood) we enjoy up-to-the moment engagement with people we love but who live far away. For a TCK, (ThirdCultureKid) this is invaluable.

3) Social media serves as a tool for not just relational networking, but for intentional & expanded learning. I could sit here and keep writing, or I could learn from my friends and connections. I could keep arguing my point, but I'd much rather hear yours. Why do you think social media is a good thing? Post your thoughts here, argue with me (or each other). Help me think this through!