Monday, May 25, 2009

Twitter, Tralfamadoria, and The Church

Thought 1 (all thoughts will merge in the end)

I was reading Time Magazine Saturday morning and read the article about Twitter being used in some larger churches. The parishioners would bring their laptops to church and twitter the worship team during the service. It sounds like the worship team, in most circumstances, can’t read the messages until after the service. I don’t know why, and I am still naive about Twitter, they just can’t just wait until they got home and then send an ole-fashioned e-mail or, for goodness sakes, walk up and TELL someone what you think?

Time listed some of the messages received. They include things like; “God is blessing me right now,” “I really enjoyed that music piece” or “I don’t feel close to God anymore.”

Thought 2

I’m working my way (okay maybe there is a better word than “work,” what about enjoying my way) through the top 100 English novels of the twentieth century. Right now I am reading Slaughter House-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Believe it or not, it is for the first time. Either my Appalachian schools were so bad that they never exposed us to the classics, or the fact it was in the Bible belt, these books were possibly banned. Anyway, it took my own kids to introduce me to Vonnegut.

Slaughter House-Five
is an odd book, in a pleasant way. The main character, Billy Pilgrim had been abducted by an alien race from Tralfamadoria, but returned to earth to live his mundane . . . and sometimes not so mundane, life. The Tralfamadorians had a unique perspective on time, a lot like we envision God’s perspective. It is like looking down on an old 45 record where you move the needle from one point to another . . . and back again. Therefore the book bounces around in Billy’s life on a whim.

Thought 3

Now imagine we could take the Twitter churches and move the needle on the chronograph ahead by 50 years. Before I describe what this would be like my paranoia must speak.

I have nothing against technology. Actually, I love technology. In itself, I see technology as amoral. The same world-wide-web can be used to expose war crimes and solicit help for staving people, and exploit little children for the most heinous cause . . . child pornography. The point, which I’m trying to make, is not about the evils of twittering in the church. But the fact that I think, when it comes to church, we’ve lost our way . . . and it happened a long time ago. The reason I’m still thinking about this is a continuation of my discussion about our youth. When I mentioned that Sunday morning church would be optional for the kids (based on their motives), several people, including my own wife, thought that would be the deal breaker.

In my usual way, I must also throw in a caveat or two; the first one is about the science of futurism. It’s a tough job. The reason is, while you can predict trends based on present trajectories you can not predict sudden changes in that trajectory. The best example I can think of is Arthur C. Clarke writing the screenplay for 2001 A Space Odyssey. He based his expectations of space travel, in 2001, on the rapid development of space travel in 1968. He had no way to know that certain political developments in the US (for one was the rise in power of the religious right) would abruptly and totally change this course.

So, I want to explore what it would be like to suddenly be teleported to the year 2060 (based on present trends) and then imagine what it would be like for a first century Christian to be teleported to one of our Evangelical church services today. To keep from making these posts too long, I will add two more to cover each episode of time travel.


NOTAL said...

Interesting coincidence: Yesterday at my economics meet up group, we were discussing the economics of war, and got on the topic of anti-war films. I had never heard of Slaughterhouse-Five, but everyone there strongly recommended it, so I just added it to my netflix queue a few minutes ago, then I come here and see your image. Is this the 3rd or 4th time in the last couple years that we have, by chance, picked up the same book, at the same time (ok,ok so I went with the movie this time, but still)?

MJ said...

That is strange. Besides Alice in Wonderland, what was the other.

pennyyak said...

Wow. You're getting comment BEFORE the post. I had to laugh. I loved Slaughterhouse-Five, though I'm not a big fan of the rest of his books. And anyway, aren't you supposed to be catching up on your sleep?

MJ said...

Two nights of good sleep in a row. I feel like a new man.

NOTAL said...

We were reading Plato's Republic at about the same time I think. I thought there might have been one more, but maybe not.