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I have been outed

April 7th, 2009

I have been experimenting with this blog for a couple of weeks, but when I went “live” last weekend, I didn’t think that many people would notice. After all, my primary goal was to create a way by which I might keep in touch with those people who are members of my own congregation. I haven’t actually set aside my regular pastoral responsibilities yet, but as our transatlantic friends say, I’m “missing you already”.

But the word is out. I am a blogger. And apparently some important people have noticed! Can you believe it, I have even made it on to “Talkback”, our local BBC Radio Ulster programme, to talk about blogging?

Lest some sane people out there think I have lost it entirely, let me quote my friend, Dr Carl Trueman who succeeded me as Academic Dean at Westminster Seminary, and who has been known to inhabit the world of cyberspace from time to time. Here are Carl’s apposite comments from the Reformation 21 blog:

Well, the virtual world is new but it is here to stay; and it will no doubt continue to shape human behavior and self-understanding. We cannot ignore it but neither should we simply allow it to dictate to us who we are and how we think. Thus, we must teach people by precept and example that real life is lived primarily in real time in real places by real bodies. Pale and pimply bloggers who spend most of their spare time onanistically opining about themselves and their issues and in befriending pals made up of pixels are not living life to the full; nor are those whose lives revolve around videogames; rather they are human amoebas, subsisting in a bizarre non-world which involves no risk to themselves, no giving of themselves to others, no true vulnerability, no commitment, no self-sacrifice, no real meaning or value. To borrow a phrase from Thoreau, the tragedy of such is that, when they come to die, they may well discover that they have never actually lived.
For myself, I rejoice that I grew up before the web and the videogame supplanted the real world of real friendships, real discussions, real lives. I did not spend my youth growing obese and developing Vitamin D deficiency in front of an illuminated screen, living my life through the medium of pixels. However she does it, the church should show this generation of text and web addicts where real friendship and community lie, not with some bunch of self-created avatars on Facebook but with the person next to them in the pew on Sunday, with the person next door, with the person they can see, hear, touch and, of course, to whom they can talk, and who is created not in webworld but by the mighty Creator. And never, ever allow your church to go virtual so that people think that logging on to a service or downloading a sermon is really being part of the body of Christ. Of course, I write, as I indicated last month, as a self-proclaimed miserable middle-aged git. My instinct, therefore, is that things like Facebook, along with low-rider jeans, dances that involve the `splits,’ and sentences such as `It was like you know like totally awesome and stuff,’ are probably best left to the under-25s. Use these web doohickeys if you must; just don’t mistake them for real life, or the relationships that only exist there for real friendships.

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