How many times have you been on social media, and come across a quotation or meme which spouts a platitude offering wisdom in only a few simple words leaving you a pondering moment whereby you conclude in a thought, “yeah, I agree with that!”. How about when you read those posts from a family member or just anyone you know, asking you to forward or share their post about something religious maybe even controversial. Your seeming capitulation to the request indicates to them, you agree with their point of view, but if you don’t forward along, or you don’t agree, they become social media distant from you. What we see in many posts is a one-sided assertion meant to persuade those who read it. In some cases, a misguided attempt to encapsulate a complex theology or epistemology of faith into a simplistic ideology of conscious will. We see political views being expressed as matters of fact, but, the views are colorful suppositions meant to ridicule those who don’t agree and welcome those who agree. Don’t misinterpret my meaning, some posts people publish are correct in every spiritual, intellectual, and feasible way possible, but when we are forced to wade through the right and wrong every time we log on, we would rather not. How many times have you seen the profile of a ubiquitous quote fairy (we all know who they are in our circles), and just kept scrolling? How about a family member, who can’t understand why their opinions aren’t solid gold, and so we hide their posts as a matter of passive protest them? I know we’ve heard from everyone we know; social media creates a negative dynamic in our society (i.e. each and everyone’s life). Social media is in fact a diminishment within the constructs of our culture because we’ve let go of traditional knowledge for the short-order wisdom special, and a side of hubris, with a dessert choice of anger or apathy on those topics which require neither to be addressed. Our culture has replaced understanding with a “me, me, me!!!” entitlement philosophy, and those of us unwilling to capitulate to the new normal behavior, are seemingly left in the dust of those who tell us daily, they are moving forward. They are wrong, the accurate paradigm is, those of us who choose not to berate those who disagree with us, or those of us who choose to look deeper into our faith journey, are more like to recognize social media as a tool for understanding rather than an opinion platform (I do realize the irony, as I write this blog though, it’s not lost on me).
So, what do I mean by “short-order”? There are so many different sites which post spiritual based text and pictures, and this become convoluted with the individual posts people make all focused on one thing, our spiritual growth and/or conversion of faith. There are so many out there right now, how do we know which has a basis of truth, and how much is a matter of thought someone had one day. I’m sure we’ve all see the quote, “Everything on the internet is true, by Abraham Lincoln”, I must say the first time I saw this, I belly laughed, because it is quite true. We just don’t know what is and what is not, without a true basis of comparison as it relates to our journeys. I know from personal experience, I have some relatives who are so combative and express so much vitriol with my points personal points of view, I eventually silenced them from my feed. This was after a few altercations, whereby they quoted improper facts, and diminished my overall faith as a matter of stupidity. In retrospect, I should have been more forgiving with my actions towards them, but at the time I was angry, and I felt as though there wasn’t any ability to have a civil discourse with them. Not because I was unwilling, but because of a behavior which indicated they weren’t at a place to speak with me, because of their intense dislike of my views.
Over time though, I’ve noticed, people will post a platitude, and although it does have meaning and does strike a note if we allow it to permeate our thoughts for any period, when we mix true statements of wisdom with half-hearted attempts then we begin to see, the mire of junk we must wade through. When we add this to funny posts, and posts with news feeds, the task becomes too much to look at for any one of us. So, inevitably we focus on those things which we can determine as being mostly truth, such as videos which makes us laugh, and we push past all those posts determined to give us tidbits of information or spiritual advice. Ultimately what have we lost, by only viewing pictures of friends or watching videos of people failing? We’ve settled for quick advice, quick solutions, and even entitled ourselves to be a part of everything we see. We’ve grown lazy in our attempts to embrace our faith, our responsibilities. We’ve replaced conventional wisdom with wisdom from anything which sounds new because we attribute the past as an antiquated time which should be replaced with something new. We are addicted to new, no matter what the cost of our change will be. The irony is, we’re not the first culture to think we know better, and we’re not the first generations to think we are more enlightened and sensitive to culture than any which have come before us.
If we look at some topics in our culture today, we see politics is at a forefront, religion is purported as dying, social issues are the door to equality of outcomes (i.e. sexuality, abortion, identity rights). We have so many issues, we as a culture don’t know up from down anymore. At least this is what social media implies, we are led to believe by people who admonish religion and spirituality as something people with simplistic understandings of life accept. We are bombarded daily by instances of “social justice” bent on righting the wrongs of the past by forcing people to be nice to one another, and then when people (rightfully) don’t like being forced to do anything they are derided as bigots, racists, or misogynists from those groups seeking justice. It’s enough to make even the most vanilla of situations become intricate from the surface, where people are willing to give in to pressure, rather than to think for themselves and rely on a morality set in objective truth.
Ok, how do we stop a progression of amoral, unprincipled people bent on creating a society whereby everyone can do whatever they want, if it’s ok with certain groups? Thing is, not everyone is amoral or even unprincipled, they due to ignorance willful or not, believe what they are doing is right, and they believe in it so much, they want us to come along. Isn’t this what we would do? Don’t we believe in something so much, we want everyone else to come along? Partly I think we want this, because we believe in the experience, but also, it’s nice to have people we know along for the ride, people we know we can trust. It’s about our comfort, our perception of the acceptance of others, in the end, it’s easier to do something if we can see someone we trust involved. Therefore, social media is a one stop shop for religion, news, entertainment, and this is also the reason people spend so much time on their phones or computers attempting to live in a virtual world. The only way to willfully admonish a perceived enemy is to attack their weakness and exploit their inability to defend this weakness or at least create a shift in paradigms focused on our faith.
Where is this magical weakness, I’m referring to? Every person has this weakness, and we know it too, we are all searching for something. Something which will give us all the answers, something which will metaphorically keep us full and we won’t ever become weary of this “something” we seek. Until we find what we are looking for, we will search in every corner of this world, listen to anyone who seemingly knows what they are talking about, and progress any movement focused on the change we believe needs to happen. We are sheep, and as much as someone may not want to believe this mentality, listen to Jordan Peterson’s lecture on “Man’s Capacity for Evil”, where describes just how easy it is as an instinct to commit evil. As he states it, “when our own proclivity for evil unites with the human proclivity of evil, then you understand what you are capable of”. I’m not suggesting people are all evil, but what this does show is, is the instinctive nature with which we can be persuaded, by our own personal selfish desires to lead or follow in just whichever way we are suited. “When in Rome do as the Romans do”, an old phrase which has taken on a revived meaning within the context or contest of social media. So, if someone has a will to be manipulated, we all do at one extent or another, then this will can be influenced in a similar manner by the action (altruistic for some) of faith towards one another. As we learn from the life of Jesus, our actions are far more important than anything we could truly say to one another. Giving of ourselves, sacrificing of ourselves (in either effort or body) is another way in which our actions will lead those who are searching for fulfillment, to truly be filled. Though the difference is, they are filled by the love of God, and with this love, they become a true reflection of the truth of God.
I personally, enjoy scrolling through the day’s events to find interesting stories, or listen to interesting people as expansive knowledge of our surroundings will help to codify my thoughts about faith and understand how we are all one in the Body of Christ. As a man, I look to those men, who might be leaders of our faith, and as leaders will provide wisdom, examples of courage, and be willing to face the difficulties in their lives with the Love of God as their armor. The apostles were led by Jesus because they could see the Divine Christ, and as this was made clear to them, they also knew his truth was The Truth, God’s Truth.
Men there are very good groups on different social sites which provide a meaningful interpretation of truth and action, and within this truth, they utilize the Bible as a means or guideline to approach this truth. Don’t be lulled into a sense of easy answers or platitudes which neither explain your faith, nor fully represent your growing emotional bond with God. As we can see, anything worth doing in this life will be hard and will be littered with our failures until we attain a successful outcome. It seems, God isn’t disheartened in our failures as much as he is willing our success, he needs us to try, to try for a stronger, personal relationship with Him. If we are willing to put forth the effort, by praying, doing good works, and willing the good of the other, God is there to pour forth the graces upon us. Think back at a time when you were wifeless, and childless, now think about now, are you blessed? For me, my life was an empty shell compared to now. My children are the greatest gifts I could have ever received, but they are the hardest to understand. My kids test everything I know, they are obstinate, willful, and forever confusing me by their actions. However, and most importantly, they are loving, kind, happy, filled with joy, a constant source of wonder in my eyes, and essentially, they allow my heart to ache in the most wonderful of ways. I think of our Heavenly Father, and I know, his love is unquantifiable, but I can associate my own experience and only imagine the depths of what he feels for us. Therefore, there can be no words, there are no human words to describe a love like this. No human comprehension can grasp the helix of complication we are loved by, except to draw from our own understanding of our best parallel, our fatherhood.
Our truth in God is reliant on our ability to search for objective truth and in our exhaustible efforts we will begin to see a crack of light creep through the proverbial rock wall which surrounds our hearts. Much like being in a dark cave far below the ground, we stumble over what we can’t see. In our acceptance of easy platitudes and social media justice, we do the same, we stumble on ideologies which are not consistent and which don’t encompass the wisdom of our creator, but take a kernel of wisdom from man as a moral to live by. We can never listen to the morals of man, they are subjective and carry with them the burden of exactness which creates a perpetual motion of ideals. Much like a camel is a horse designed by committee, man’s morals are subject to everyone’s opinions. God’s morals are true and never changing, but within all God’s morals are true love, a beauty unparalleled in life. So, as you enter the darkened cave of social media, remember the Love of God is the only light you need. The Light of God is the only light which will show you the way to truth. As smart as your neighbor believes themselves to be, their wisdom pertains to their life, mostly if it doesn’t have the basis of their faith leading the way.
Platitudes are nice, and should have some quick relevant understanding in our lives, but those platitudes should be in addition to what we know in faith. Jesus, hung from the cross, he suffered a humiliating and vile death at the hands of people searching for the truth, even Pilate says to Jesus, “truth what is that” John 18:38. Jesus was the truth, John 14:6, “I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” I always recommend when people have questions, to read their Bible, and if after reading the whole Bible they don’t have a satisfactory answer, then they should read it again. The answers for our life are not in a “meme” intended to delight or create a pithy statement, but in the words of the prophets, the kings, and the One True God. This is where the truth is found, and through the tradition of the Church, we find a way to practice our faith daily by accepting the graces God has given us and cherishing them with a true love and willingness to push sin out of our lives. I hope as men who are reading this or women too, we realize our God is the most important aspect of our lives, and our families are second only to God. Place importance on what we know to be the truth, stop searching for easy answers to our faith and life, there are none. One thing we can all count on is, if it’s hard, and we know it is right, then this is the path we need to be running down. May God bless you and your families, and may your families always be cogent blessing in your life of God’s will and love for each one of you.
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!