- Reader's Opinion -

April 11, 2011

To Know and be Known..

Connection. We would all agree that we live in a connected world. In fact, we are living in the most technologically connected world of any time period. But why? Why have humans created so much technology? Has it all just been a long, drawn out experiment for the fun of it? Is it all in pursuit of knowledge? Is it just to increase commerce and economic gain? Some could argue a case for all of those. But think about some of the original purposes of progressive forms of technology. The printing press revolutionized the way many humans communicate by allowing ideas to take place on paper. Verbal arguments could no longer take place, but only passive internal reflection by the reader. Also, think about the telegraph, telephone, radio, and television. They all have the underlying purpose and motive of allowing connection to take place between peoples, whether passive or engaged. With the explosion of the internet, people can be connected 24/7 across time and space. Something raw and essentially human has been driving all of these technological inventions. Enhanced communication has been a reason for sure, but I would dare to dive into the depths of human essence. At the core of every human, is the innate desire to know and be known.

In turn, we must take a look at present day mediums our culture is using to fill the void of a desired sense of connection. First, let's define what mediation is. Thomas de Zengotita conceptualizes mediation this way, "...mediation means dealing with reality through something else." The reality that I am proposing, is that humanity wants to feel deeply connected. The main medium through which people are exploring this longing in our post-modern world is the internet. Social networking sites have rampantly taken off in the past several years. Sites like Myspace, Twitter, and especially Facebook are re-defining the way we humans interact and do relationships. Consider this, as of now there are more than 500 million active users on Facebook.

More specifically, it is interesting to observe how our digital world is colliding with Christianity and the Church. Is the Church lagging behind? Is there a direct correlation between seemingly 'dying' churches all across America and the lack of technological integration within those churches? Statistically, 40% of churches aren't using any sort of social networking at all, not even Facebook. Conversely, what about the churches who are using a social networking site like Facebook, or blogs/vlogs, or even a church-specific website such as The City? The Church was long ago once a place where people gathered for everything in life such as relationships, news, politics, and spiritual matters. Now, there is a multitude of avenues outside the Christian Church people can venture to seek out these issues in life, spurred by the birth of the internet. Zengotita also states in his book Mediated, that '...in a mediated world, the opposite of real isn't phony or illusional or fictional - it's optional.' The Christian Church is now among one choice in a sea of options.

Jesse Rice provides some insight into the human condition. In his book The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community, he proposes the idea that the human condition is one of a state of 'homelessness.' That people are consistently seeking for a sense of belonging and acceptance. Humans have a need for 'home.' Is it possible that people are searching for this sense of home via a social networking platform like Facebook? Rice believes so, and inferences can be derived from experiences and statistics that this is the case. People have a desire to know and be known and they will search to fill this empty space through the most 'cutting-edge' medium.

The Church faces complications of it's own. How do people perceive what the Christian Gospel is through the new mediums it is being presented? As Marshall McLuhan says, 'The medium is the message.' Christians believe that the God of the Bible is relational, even within the concept of the Trinity. There is one God existing relationally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Bible also states in 1 Corinthians 1:9 that 'God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.' With that, a Christian would come to the conclusion that this longing for a 'home' in humans is deeply rooted in the notion that God created us to be in relationship with Him. Jesse Rice comes to this same conclusion in his book, that God is beckoning us 'home' to Himself.

In closing, I believe that most people would agree that everyone is on some sort of spiritual journey. We must ask ourselves essential questions on our road trip to find meaning in life. Does Christianity connect all the dots and get it right? Can our human need for a 'home' truly be filled by this God of the Bible? Who really was Jesus anyway? Christianity seems to stick out when compared side by side with other religions... but is it the Truth?

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