Just a few, potentially unconnected thoughts:
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25a)
Why is there so much interest in the Twitter-verse? Social media is great in many ways, but producing quality, in-depth conversation is not its chief good. Why is there so much concern for what folks are Tweeting about the proceedings? Adam Hamilton, apparently unhurt by but still concerned about the ire being thrown around during his presentation recently, met with young delegates to address their concerns. He spoke pointedly about the dangers of social media, and how easy it is to make someone look good or foolish based on what we preachers would call prooftexting. He lamented how snark has replaced honest conversation.
Sherry Turkle of MIT recently recflected,
Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.
We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.
At and around GC there seems to be little reflecting, lots of reaction; little conversation, much activism. Attempts at “Holy Conversations,” some quarters report, failed. I doubt a conversation will ever be holy so long as folks cannot bear to hear a contrary opinion without running to feelings police. This may sound unnecessarily harsh, but I don’t intend it to be. It is more a concern for the power play that is the “hurt feelings” routine. I think I even read about a bishop saying they were hurt because someone else was hurt. Where does it end? I think, more often than we would care to admit, the claim to hurt feelings in church gatherings large and small is a power play that should not always be taken at face value.
And why are the young delegates and young clergy being coddled so much? For the record, I’m allowed to say this, as one of the few under-30 pastors in the church these days. Why are we so interesting? I want to know what old, experienced pastors think. I want to know what leaders think, people who have been around a while. I suppose I am not a good enough American, because at the end of the day I don’t think everyone’s voice has remotely the same merit. In some churches everyone defers to the old guys with the long beards and funky hats. We seem to be running the opposite direction: the people with the youngest, hippest audience, or those with the largest twitter following, are determining how we go about this work of “holy conferencing.”
I’m not sure there will be much faith left to pass on if the future of the church is dependent upon what a million 19-year-olds can fit into 120 characters at a time. If we were praying as ardently as we were Tweeting, we’d look more like a church recognizable to Jesus, the apostles, and John Wesley.