There have been a few (and by a few, I mean more than you can shake a stick at) posts by people responding to a book by a Christian famous pastor and author. It’s reaching epidemic proportions. Almost to the point of being annoying.
I am not going to write about the pastor or the book (I haven’t read it, actually it was sold out at my local bookstore, so I couldn’t buy it).
What I do want to write about is the nature and tone of the conversation.
I am appalled.
I am appalled by the tweets, facebook posts, and one liners.
Social media is short form and is not the proper place for the kind of interaction that topics like this need. There are some topics that require more than 140 characters. Issues of Heaven and Hell certainly fall into that category.
This hit home for me last night after a weekly conversation called, Coffee/Doubt. We spent an hour dealing with this topic and barely scratched the surface. The questions were real and powerful. There was discomfort and passion. The conversation could have gone on for many more hours.
As we dive into the depths of what it means to be human and what it means to interact with the divine we must realize that the conversation will necessarily be long form.
I appreciate the long form critiques that are taking place on a few blogs. Sadly, blogs are typically group-think factories (this one is no different and yes I get the irony). You don’t necessarily interact with the blogs of those you disagree with. The comments of a dissenter are typically annihilated with polemic, by the readers, not usually the author.
This is the kind of conversation that needs to take place around the table where representative people can really talk through it.
This has always been the chasm. Scholarly papers used shoot past each other without either being read or digested. Books would be published and not really interact with one another. Magazines would publish response pieces that were inflammatory so that the magazine would sell. The bloggers preach to the choir. The tweeters condense it all into 140 characters.
My only solution is for the Church to engage in real dialogue. Face to face. Person to Person. That was the beauty of the ancient councils. The Church leadership would gather, dispute, worship, pray, teach and decide.
I like social media. I like blogging. I think they both have a place. But, I think they fall short as mediums for theological dispute (although I think blogging done right could be fantastic, a synchroblog on this issue could be worthwhile and helpful).