But this type of great candidness is despised by many parts of society, and in a paradox, the Evangelical subculture seems to abhor it the most. The reason is, when you deal honestly with life—warts and all—you dispel the Christian myths about righteousness and godliness.
The myth is, you become a Christian and over night you become a much better person than you were the day before. You also, supposedly, loose your motivation to do things which the Bible considers sinful. Then as you grow, those tendencies virtually go all away until you are godly.
I know it sounds like I’m getting off on a tangent, and maybe I am, but I will eventually relate it back to the Facebook phenomenon.
But I believe in reality, we change very slowly. The “overnight” change, in my humble opinion has a lot more to do with socialization than a supernatural change. This is not a theological statement but one based on the observation of human behavior over a long period of time.
Then, over time our character does change subtly, but we imagine it doing so much more than it does. The Christian author Philip Yancey is saying the same exact thing in his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace.
So, where there is a incongruentcy or conflict between what we perceive about reality and what IS reality, we cover it up. To expose it, creates great social frustration and uneasiness. That’s what candidness does.
I will just give a brief example of what I mean. I hate to even bring this up, but it a classical example of what I’m talking about. A few months ago my ex-pastor, who certainly would consider himself a mature Christian and godly man, was in my house screaming at me with a contorted face and a look of pure rage. There were psychological reasons he could feel rage. I had announced a few weeks earlier that I was leaving his church. His personal esteem was wrapped up in that church (not saying he was a bad guy, but saying this is a normal human emotional feelings and response) and I was threatening his self esteem.
But during that “conversation” I made reference to his anger. I bet every sociologist and behavioral psychologist would agree that he was exhibiting extreme anger or rage. However, he voice offense that I would say he was “angry.” This made him livid. In his mind’s eye, he was doing pastoral counseling because I was a very bad man who had turned his back on God.
But then I was candid and said I, personally, was mad as hell. But the fact that I admitted that I was angry was used against me. It was more proof that I was a bad person and deserved such a harsh rebuke.
When I was very involved with Evangelical groups we all lied through our teeth to maintain the myth that we had godly motives for everything we did. In my opinion, this tension, between our good-Christian ideals and the reality of human nature has created a culture of farceness. It is against this farce that 80% of our Evangelical-raised children are rebelling. Don’t believe me? Ask them. Every 20-year-old + ex-church person I’ve talked to says the same. No Ken Ham, it is not because they’ve been exposed to “humanistic evolution.”
So how does Facebook fit in? The commentator says that Internet-based social networks have created a far more candid society. People are sharing on a public stage their most intimate thoughts and the trivial details about their lives—often with photos to back it up. Speaking of which, he also including these strange birds that speak their most intimate thoughts on these things call “blogs” whatever the hell that is.
Imagine that the world’s emotional/intellectual façade is like the sea. The bed of the sea is reality. As that water level starts to go down towards reality, the exposure and contrast with the dishonest Christian subculture becomes more apparent. The Church starts to look more like isolated islands sticking up out of the water, with the Facebook-generation falling off the edge towards that lowering water level. If not falling off the edge, then they have to construct a psychological dichotomy between their personas in the Christian world and in the non-Christian world.
This dichotomy was exemplified by friends of mine a number of years ago. They were typical, hard church-working, evangelicals. In the church context they said all the right things and appeared like the ideal Christian family.
They had another world in which they lived as well. They had a family business, in which the parents and the kids participated in. In that social setting, they were totally different. They were rough, drank a lot of beer, dad smoked cigarettes and they used rough language.
Now, please understand that I’m not criticizing this family as not being good Christians or even being hypocrites. My intentions could not be further from that, and this is where people often misunderstand what I’m trying to say. I’m just pointing how some people, actually most people, deal with this disjoint between the Christian ideals they subscribe to and the reality of the world in which they live.
On an even more interesting sociological note was that when this family was stuck by an unexpected tragedy (the father was killed), it was their non-Christian friends whom they drew closes to. I noticed that when us church-people, visited them in the hospital, a stiff façade would go up. When their non-Christian friends came (and most of the church people were gone) they let their guard down and they were real. No more flaky God-talk (God did this for a reason to teach you to trust Him) but crying and outrage . . . which was far, far more consistent with what they were really feeling.
So the big question, what does the future of the Church hold for a more candid society? How can the Church adapt to social networking?
Like I stated in the previous post, there are good and bad with every human endeavor. I personally applaud any movement towards a greater honestly. However, we all know that Facebook, blogs and other Internet interfaces between people can be a fraud. Who knows, maybe I’m a twelve year old girl in India rather than a fifty-five year old man in the San Juan Islands.
I posted once before about the virtual church (which some mega churches are playing around with). Most of that seems a continuation and even magnification of the farce factor. On line, you can appear to be even more holy than you really are. Online, they can’t see your bloodshot eyes or veins sticking out of your neck as you exhibit your carnal rage but cloak it as loving concern.
But, what is this Facebook society going to do to/for the future Church? I think we must become more honest are the Facebook generation is lost forever.
Maybe more on this though later.