before I disappear

I’ve been contemplating giving up Facebook for Lent.

That this thought should be so much of a wrestle or even an issue, that I think that I should blog about it says everything you probably need to know about Facebook (and Twitter, blogging). It’s an idol for me, something that has been created by the hands of men that has often taken the place of God.

There are two quotes which I took note of yesterday from The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations that stuck in my mind

‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’

That is one of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws and maybe explains part of the problem. The www and internet seem magical. They dazzle you and bewilder you and seem so effective compared to a God who can appear silent and distant. Ask Google and an answer appears in milliseconds. Ask God and………

“In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy”
Ivan Illich

Facebook is a consumer product that thrives on us consuming it.
They want me to be addicted to their product, to consume  it in larger quantities.
And all that consuming makes me envious.
I read what others are telling me (even if it’s only partially true), I see their sexy lives and how they can do things I can’t do because they have more money than me, or have more drive, or are more_____.
I become embittered that everyone else seems to be having an easier time of things than me and wish I was more like them.

There is also the truth that we become like what we worship.
How am I becoming more like digital technology?
Vinoth Ramachandra suggests:-

‘…it is not surprising that those who worship technology eventually develop machine like personalities: emotionally under-developed, shallow in their relationships, driven by a desire to control and quantify every situation, unable to appreciate beauty and value in anything outside the artificial’

I can see that from the way my eyes have changed.
The more I’ve been hypnotized by the computer screen over the years the harder it’s been to see beauty outdoors. It’s now more appealing to draw from the computer screen that to do doodle outdoors.  It’s like the natural world is becoming the unnatural world and that really is unnatural.

This mightn’t apply to you of course. Some people might struggle with other addictions or be a slave to something else, technology mightn’t be the thing that is out of place in your life but it’s something that often doesn’t have it’s proper place in my life.


church history (repeating itself), Lent and Occupy London

So I eventually finished the book on church history and my conclusion is pretty much summed up in these words by Robert Farrar Capon.
It’s long but it says it.

‘In spite of the fact that Jesus insisted that the Comforter would not speak of himself but would simply take what was Christ’s and show it to us, Christian’s have all too often decided that there was indeed one thing of Christ’s that the Spirit would not bother to show us – one whole set of things, in fact, that Jesus stressed but that the Comforter would not bring to our remembrance – namely, Christ’s insistence on using left-handed power.
The idea quickly got around in the early church – and has stayed with us to this day – that when the Spirit came to act, he would do so in plausible, right-handed way. Whether those acts were conceived of as involving a program of miraculous, healing interventions in the world, or as displaying various straight-line ‘spiritual’ phenomena such as speaking in tongues or guaranteeing the Papacy’s infallibility in matters of faith and morals, the church all too often gave the impression that the Spirit could be counted on to deliver in a way that Jesus never did. And thus the mischief was done.’

Robert Farrar Capon -Kingdom, Grace, Judgement

It’s those last lines in particular, those about the church trying to deliver in a way that Jesus never did that strikes me.

Much of the church history as told seems to recount the church mixed up with trying to rule in an earthly sort of way.

Maybe it strikes home particularly at Lent and reading how Jesus refuses the ways of the devil while being tempted in the wilderness. The devil tries to tempt Jesus into carrying out his mission in worldly, some would say very sensible ways and Jesus refuses.
Or in passages such as when Jesus washes the disciples feet or mentions that if you want to be great you must be a servant.
And of course the way that Jesus ultimately demonstrated his power and the way to do things was in dying alone on the cross as a criminal.

Christians simply aren’t supposed to demonstrate The Way by worldly shows of power or ruling like the kings of the world would and have. It’s about laying down our lives and turning the other cheek.

Watching the TV pictures of protesters at Occupy London being evicted from St Paul’s cathedral seems like another example of the church going about things in an unchristian manner.

Here you have people being forced of church property by bailiffs and riot police in a display of earthly power and force.
Meanwhile the occupiers are displaying power in a more much more Christlike manner. I was thinking particularly of the way that some people are puzzled by their lack of demands or clear vision about what they are up to, or how people can’t really figure them out easily.
That is a worldly way of power, having a sound-byte or two and a mission statement, clearly defined goals or targets to hit. Or the way people say that they’re just layabouts or hypocrites. In that you almost hear echos of the pharisees calling Jesus a glutton and drunkard.

I’m not sure God being on the side of the Occupy movement, but there are images and hints from it that seem much more in keeping with the spirit of Jesus than much of what goes on in our church life I reckon. Which seems more in keeping with the life of Christ? The description of Christians on their knees in prayer on the steps of St Paul’s being dragged away by police or the Archbishop of Canterbury vs Richard Dawkins in argument at Oxford University?

led us not into temptation (except when you lead us into temptation?)?)

There are two verses in the Bible that have been playing on my mind recently.
First up this verse from Matthew Chapter 4

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil.

and then this familiar verse a few chapters on from The Lord’s Prayer

And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one

I’m not sure why that struck except it seems that even though Jesus tells us to pray that we will not be led into temptation Jesus himself is led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the Devil.
In fact it sounds as if the Spirit has led Jesus into the wilderness where he will be tempted by the devil.

So I’m not really sure what to make of that.
That is all..