I’m in the middle of reading the book of Job in my 90-day plan for the Old Testament. Job’s friends really rake him over the coals. As if he needed yet another spike of suffering. They press him hard to admit his wickedness. So the contrast couldn’t be greater between the harshness of Job’s friends and the sharing between saints expressed by Paul’s incentive in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12 is today’s New Testament reading, in another plan I’m following.
• Reading the Bible with a certain speed, or reading a book in a single setting, provides that big picture we so need. Each velocity of reading brings its own benefit, of course. And the overview is one to greatly benefit us, as we fit the details into the narrative of God’s work in our world. So we see the forest with the trees.
• I’m a free-market advocate, but I like the open-source initiative, too. I don’t like sites like Google and Facebook collecting data about my habits, however mundane they be, and however little they may be able to influence my purchases. My personality values privacy, and that’s not a word valued by either of the aforementioned companies. So I especially like the Diaspora* idea of a not-for-profit social media. If I could get the world to join, we might make the others rethink their strategy. Wishful thinking, I know.
• Facebook, Google+, and Twitter (my favorite of the three) are where people are, so I’m there, too (here, here, and here), as a voice for the Beyond. That ought to be a good way to put it, since my friends think I’m far out.
• The Internet has always been a personal medium, and the explosion of social media reinforces that. Ironic that companies and corporations are investing heavily in social networking. But then Mitt Romney reminded us — one of his few genuine contributions to the political conversation — that companies are people, too. He was heckled and ridiculed for that statement, and I don’t pretend to understand much about politics, but companies are places where people work and invest together to produce some good for other people. All that to say, it makes sense, then, for even a business to be in social media. And — here’s my real point — it makes sense for Christians to engage in social networking. We go where the people are.
• For all the good that social media can do, one must be careful that the width of the contact (i.e., number of friends or followers) doesn’t inhibit the depth of real-life relationship, nor that online interaction replace local fellowship. But having said that, I have some true friends now that were initiated through social networking, some of whom I have met in person, others whom I still hope to meet in a not-so-distant future.
• Back to Job? A couple of friends have commented on my observation that the suffering patriarch had to deal not only with his friends, but with his own concepts of what today we call the theology of prosperity. He knew he wasn’t wicked and rebellious, traits which theretofore composed his reasons for suffering and loss. It was the bad guys whom the Lord punished. So where did that leave him? In a tussle with the Creator. Job doesn’t want to spar with his friends: they only spouted what he knew wasn’t true, now. He wanted to have it out with the Lord. Wouldn’t it be good if we followed that example?