Using the internet to broadcast the "Good News"...
Some recurring themes have been occupying the space directly under mynose of late – and for the purposes of this discussion; two themesin particular.
Always the most demanding and complex of the two is the call to mission:to be bearers of the Good News "to the ends of the earth". Nowadays,"the ends of the earth" has expanded to include a brand-newfrontier – cyberspace. Humanity has grown from the womb of creation toa point where 'parochial' has morphed into 'global', and it's all happeningright under our noses. We haven't even begun to address the implicationsof this new global awareness, so there is much work to be done.
The other recurring theme for me has been how we behave towards one anotherin this new global frontier. I see enormous potential here for being light-bearersand bringers of Good News. I have participated in cyberspace long enoughto know that real hearts and minds lie behind the words on the screen.I've met many of these people and count them among some of my most treasuredfriends.
I've also experienced real Christian community in cyberspace, so I knowit can work. Unfortunately, it's no easier in cyberspace than it is inour daily lives. Every community, no matter where it resides, has itsmisunderstandings and difficult growing pains. The difference in a Christiancommunity – even a cyber-space Christian community – is that the peoplethere strive to be Christ-like in their dealings with one another…orat least, they should. In cyberspace, the challenge is always to findways to be light-bearers as opposed to point-scorers. Learning to reallylisten is key.
Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it spectacularly wrong;and it's been that way with Christian communities since Peter was dodgingchickens and Paul was chucking snakes about, so we shouldn't be in theleast bit surprised. What I've learned through my own encounters withcommunities on both a parish community level and a cyber-community levelis that respect, and a good dose of forgiveness, goes a very long way.
It seems to me that we are constantly playing a game of catch-up whenit comes to this new frontier. It's a frontier that had its roots in theIndustrial age and has accelerated at a breath-taking pace since the adventof mass media. But more importantly – it's where the people are – particularlyyoung people who have never lived in a world devoid of the internet, butalso an increasing number of old people whose lives are now enriched bytheir connection to the world … the 'University of the Third Age',so to speak.
Those of us in the middle have come to rely on this valuable tool inways we never could have dreamed of as teenagers. Who hasn't googled somespecific enquiry, only to discover that an hour has elapsed and you'reknee-deep in some obscure Vatican encyclical, checking out the cute Celticearrings, brushing up on climate change, or finding the right phone number/map/eBaylisting? We literally have the world at our finger-tips!
The challenge, of course, is in sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Next week I will continue the discussion on the culture of the internetand what part we have, and can play, drawing from a number of sources bothscriptural/spiritual and secular.
LINK:Brian Coyne published an earlier commentary on David A. Vise's book, TheGoogle Story on 5th February. It can be found HERE.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?