Monday, September 5, 2011

And It Was Good: A Theology for Facebook

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5

There is a tradition which says that when the ancient rabbis were asked, “Why did God give us this mighty poem of creation?” the rabbis answered, “to teach you to keep the Sabbath.”

One could argue that the whole Bible is organized around the Sabbath. But the concept of Sabbath points to something else that is also central to the creation poem which invites us into the scriptures: Creation is good.

The universe is not evil. It is not neutral. It is good.

The poem sings a constant refrain, “And God saw that it was good.” Recognizing this goodness is the beginning of faith. And it is this goodness which makes Sabbath possible. We can trust in the goodness of the universe. We can trust in the goodness of life. The details can be messy. And there is more than enough suffering. But when we see the whole, it is good. And we can rest in this goodness.

Which brings me to facebook. I was not an early adopter. But I am an unapologetic fan.

Of course, it can be annoying and trivial and repetitive. There are times when it can seem like we are reading through an endless stream of smug mini-Christmas letters, with each writer bragging about perfect families or vacations, and telling us how much they have accomplished. And then there is that annoying guy who keeps posting links to a blog you don’t want to read . . . No, wait, that’s me . . .

But mostly, I want to know what my friends are doing. I want to know who climbed on the rocks at Beavertail, or hiked up a mountain, or visited some distant land. I’m glad to know you went to Hilltop for ice cream. I want to see your baby pictures and I want to know when the kids go to college.

When I read these things, the refrain that comes to mind is, “and God saw that it was good.”

And I am grateful to the friends who post links that take me to places near and far where there is suffering and hurt. It is good to be reminded where UMCOR is at work and what we can do to help. It is good to be reminded that we have work to do; that there is a world beyond our trips to get ice cream or the baseball game. And it is good to know that there are those among us who fight the good fight and keep the faith.

“And God saw that it was good.”

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