The Facebook Insult

The following is a brief reflection written about a lecture given by Professor Michael Bruner, (expected) Doctor of Theology. I sum up highlights of his argument and pose my own thoughts about them. This reflection begins with the response to Facebook as a Christ-follower but ultimately regards the general interest of humanity, no matter what religion. I hope to encourage some dialogue about this daily matter of our culture. 

In Professor Bruner’s lecture “Effacebook: Would Jesus Friend You?” he spoke about the messages that Facebook and social media send us and the implications of them—and why they are damaging our culture. Relationships and community is an important property of the Christian life, as well as self-reflection and identity. Facebook, though it assumes to promote these things, actually turns the opposite direction. Reflecting on the truths revealed in Bruner’s lecture, it is no wonder that Jesus would neither “friend” anyone on Facebook, nor even sign on to Facebook.

Professor Bruner’s first pointed out that Jesus came to the world in the flesh, not in a virtual sense. This simple statement develops an idea that for interactions of importance and value to take place, a living and breathing element is essential. True relationships cannot be virtual; they must be literally fleshed out. In contrast, Facebook and social networking serves to disembody the individual; interactions can become completely anonymous and are one-dimensional reductions of words and images. Examining my own relationships, I noticed that none of my close friendships have been built by social media, and they will not thrive without personal encounters. In a face-to-face conversation, there are more than words being exchanged between people. In addition, there is an intense flow of non-verbal communication in tone, body language, facial cues, interactions with the present environment, etc. Because of the expedience of Facebook as a social network, it becomes a dangerously easy to accept this form of communication that lacks the nuances that actually bond people.

Partner to this hollow communication is the essence of the Facebook profile. Professor Bruner also built a main portion of his argument demonstrating the way the Facebook profile strips us of our humanity. “Sufficient complexity,” he said, is the definition of a human; to understand who we are, we have to accept we are complex beings that are more than the sum of our parts. This is a profound statement that is not reflected much in our culture (especially with mindsets deeply rooted in dualism). Even in our language we reduce ourselves, content to categorical statements such as, “I am ugly,” or “She is an accountant,” or “He is a punk,” or “I am insane.” I wonder if our self-images would change if we began to rephrase ourselves by saying instead, “She works as an accountant,” or “He acts like a punk,” or “My mind is making me feel disoriented,” or even “I think my body looks ugly”—at least the attribute is going only to the body and not to the entirety of one’s being. However, our culture is extremely comfortable in our self-simplifications, shown by our gleeful compliance in filling out our social network profiles. Bruner stated that there is not a social network that attempts to define humans and our needs. The Facebook profile tells that we only consist of a birthplace, birthday, gender, family ties, significant other, “friends,” occupation, current setting, activities, personal “likes,” opinions, and a thousand images of yours truly. This profile ultimately contains a few facts and a load of self-promotion. For example, by viewing my profile, one might learn that I am a female that likes outdoor activities and went rock-climbing in Sawtooth Canyon last October to prove it. But what my profile lacks is the expression of the utter joy I felt by spending a day with close friends exploring the gritty desert rocks in the mild fall sunshine. It lacks the way I smelled, or how dirty I looked after the day was done. It lacks how my muscles burned and knees bled on a particularly difficult route that I was determined to conquer. It lacks the way the trail mix tasted, the sound of laughter and struggle, or my awe of the quiet boy who could climb despite the uselessness of his left thumb and index finger. The representation via Facebook is at best un-poetic. At worst, it offensively diminishes the human being, and we click “Post” without blinking.

However, people (I) will continue to use Facebook because it is not completely evil and does provide beneficial resources. Because our world is fast-paced, we have adapted by creating fast methods of communication, and Facebook triumphs as one of the best forms of quick mass communication. Events can be configured and spread quickly to a lot of people, a productive venue for social coordination (an extreme example being a revolution that caught fire via Facebook). But the Facebook insult still remains. Perhaps a place to start is to refuse let a virtual profile tell us who we are. Then, maybe we will start realizing that status-updating and picture-posting for every activity is not an important part of our lives. Finally, I suppose I could get off the instant messenger and call my friend on the phone to ask him if he wants to go on a hike this weekend and catch up.

“Jesus Dub” videos

Unfortunately, Christians have created some stereotypes about the character of Jesus that are pretty lame. Cheesy old videos trying to document Jesus’ life don’t really help much. So someone took some clips of those cheesy old videos and added some voice-overs to poke some good fun at the lame stereotypes Jesus is often given.

I first saw these clips a couple years ago in high school youth group, and I had totally forgotten about them until one of my friends resurrected them after our Bible study (any irony at all?), and I think they’re even funnier to me now than ever.

They’re pretty short and witty, so have a laugh and check ‘em out.

Poem: Messiah

abandoned, alone, beaten halfway to Hell
stripped of his clothes, stripped of his pride
stripped of almost everything human
except for his pain.

out of his mouth came seven words,
seven words before he breathed his last –

forgiveness –
mercy –
compassion.
despair –
thirst.
τετέλεσται
trust.

out of his mouth came seven words,
seven words before he breathed his last
and finally closed his eyes.

the sacrifice met, by innocent blood shed.

eyes then opened to see
Sin’s Son meeting his gaze
weapons in hand
they battled for two days
gruesome, fierce, breathless –
before he wiped his sword clean
of Death’s cold blood,
ceasing forever its sting.

Third sunrise.

lungs enhale.

awake again.

Third sunrise, awake again,
upon his feet, he left the tomb
consoled sweet Magdalene
and found his friends, restoring peace.

One asked to see his hands
so he stretched out his arms
to bear them proudly
“Thomas, put your fingers in my scars.”

abandoned, alone, beaten halfway to Hell
he was
stripped of his clothes, stripped of his pride
they tried so hard to strip him of his life
but his scars are his glory
his pain a gift for those he loves,
the grave his way to victory
his battle the triumph for eternity.

A broken truth

“Dear God, why should I think you’re good in a world that’s falling apart?” –Showbread, The Fear of God

Suffering.

Babies starve, the helpless are raped, and hearts break. And where does our good God stand?




It is a broken truth. I refuse to believe that God is not good, but that also means I must accept his hand in suffering. Whether or not God ordains suffering or simply allows it for his manipulation, I do not know. I do know these few things, though: that the goal of my life is not to be happy, it is to flourish–to live my life with strength and potency as I proclaim the love of Christ. And though I would never wish suffering into being, if my desires get in the way of this true flourishing, and suffering is the only way to drive me away from them, I cannot curse God. I know without doubt that the small sufferings I have experienced in my life have shaped me into a stronger person.

Last of all, I know this: I would much rather have God, the one that went through the ultimate suffering for the good of saving me, be in control of my suffering than an evil force. I want to be able to look up in my weeping and see my Lord’s hand stretched out to me, to see in his eyes that he knows the way to guide me through the darkness, and trust that his end is the good.

Showbread concert–raw rock killed and now I am dead

Picture this: for the first time in your life, your favorite band comes to town. And when I say “favorite band,” I mean that one band that you’ve been listening to since you were a freshman in high school, the one that you could identify every song after only a second of it has been played, the one with the lead singer you would do almost anything to meet–that one band who helped inspire you to discover your passion in life.

So what do you do when you hear that band is coming to a local venue for a FREE show?

Well, if you’re like me, you start screaming. Or want to start screaming but can’t because you’re really actually too excited to be able to audibly scream.

(Official tour flier)

On Tuesday, March  8th, I went to my first Showbread concert. On Tuesday, March 8th, I finally met Josh Dies, lead singer of Showbread.

Because the band is on a free tour as a part of their music mission and signing with ComeandLive!, the show was hosted in the small setting of a church’s youth group room. I have a feeling that the acoustics of the room were not quite meant for a rock concert. I also have a feeling a lot of the people that attended were from said youth group. In other words, it was a rather humble concert.

But humble settings cannot prevent Raw Rock; that night, guitars were shredded and heads banged, drums were smashed and eardrums thrashed, and “Raw Rock Theology” was soundly delivered. In the words of Showbread, Raw Rock killed.

The concert began with “I Never Liked Anyone and I’m Afraid of People,” from Showbread’s newest album, Who Can Know It? Much of the setlist featured this album, including “Hydra,” “Man With a Hammer,” and “You’re Like a Taxi.” Though I would classify Who Can Know It? as the band’s most “chill” album, the live version of it certainly was not “chill.” Though its overall tempo is slower than previous albums, the performance surprised me by its driving intensity, and the drummer was having problems keeping himself from almost destroying his kit.

During one of these songs, the band strapped lights on their heads, while the rest of the crowd broke out their flashlights.

In addition to playing off of Who Can Know It?, almost every other Showbread album was represented by at least one song, including “So Selfish it’s Funny” from their first album No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical and “The Death” off of concept album Nervosa.

Songs from The Fear of God, “Nothing Matters Anymore” and “Regret Consumes Me,” cranked the headbang thermometer, ensuring a sore neck for me the following morning. And when Josh Dies announced, “This next song is about a dinosaur,” I almost passed out with a delighted shriek because I knew one of the I-dream-about-hearing-this-live songs was coming up, “Pachycephalosaurus.” And now you know exactly how obsessed I am.

The concert finished off with the slow jam “Age of Reptiles,” a parabolic song about the redemption of crocodiles and serpents.

After the last notes faded out, a brief session of “Raw Rock Theology” was given by Josh Dies. Following his establishment of the band’s mission and their stance as Christians, he addressed the poor stereotype of Christians in America by first apologizing for those people that hatefully judged others in the name of Jesus and then encouraging those who identified themselves as Christians to prove the stereotype wrong by loving the recipients of hate and the outcasts of society. Short, inspiring, and raw.

Then the band left the stage and to hang out with the audience for the rest of the night. I talked a little bit with each band member, gathering each of their autographs before I finally went to meet Josh Dies.

Now, he’s the type of guy I would love to just sit and watch because the essence of his personality is so funny. But I found out that he’s also the type of guy that wants to engage others in his silliness; he’d make a joke and then look at me or someone standing near him like friends do when they’re trying to make each other laugh. Can we be best friends, please?

Besides being absurdingly legit, he signed my copy of his book Nevada.

I tried my best to tell him how much I loved his writing, but you know how trying to communicate your deep admiration for your hero goes…

But I did get a classic silly-picture-with-the-band-guy! (Complete with red eye)

It goes without saying that I strongly encourage any and all to witness such Raw Rock.

If you’re interested in checking out Showbread, you can download their free album by following the link on their site, showbread.net. You can also support their ministry by donating through comeandlive.com or on the band’s donation page here.