An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
I have absolutely NO idea who this "performer" is, and I don't care. More and more I find myself unsympathetic who are offended by what they see on such programs. I mean I guess I don't understand how Timothy Winters of the PTC can suggest that the concert performances ought to be toned down for the audience "given the amount of economic support that children and teenagers bring to the industry today." Have parents bothered to LISTEN to the crap their kids are apparently consuming??? And would you then expect anything but equivalent garbage from their performances? This is absurd.
Stop buying their filth and they will wither and return to the dark crevices from which they came and were truly appreciated. If you want to complain...complain to your kids. Or maybe take some time to talk to them about the values being espoused in the art they consume. I really don't know why people bother with prime time television for their kids anymore...I long ago gave up any hope for "family" television. That's a profound oxymoron.
Not being one of great means, I've spent most of my life "inheriting" 2nd or 3rd hand furniture or just buying cheap "assemble yourself" particle board veneered disposable crud. My wife and I have long wished for a good quality dining room set that included a HUGE table and BENCHES instead of chairs. We like a rustic feel, but ironically, rustic is expensive. Unless you do it yourself.
I must preface all of this with the warning that I am as much a carpenter as I am a neurosurgeon. But I found a pretty cool and SIMPLE bench design (Leopold - typically intended for outdoor use, but hey, I LIKE it) that uses just standard lumber. Noting the nearly dangerous state of our chairs, I decided I'd do it. Today, after Church, I completed the assembly of the benches with my daughters' help and we put on the first coat of stain/polyurethane. They don't look half bad, and I suspect a guy my size could do gymnastics on them and they wouldn't even hint at a possible failure. And if and when they do fail...their design and my familiarity will allow for a quick and easy repair.
Yeah, they will not meet up to the standards of some accustomed to butlers or some equivalent thereof...but I reckon they'll work just fine for our standard "buffet counter and find your own seat" style of entertaining. I'll take some pics once they get one more coat of stain. They should make their debut for T-day.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around THIS. In the great ongoing culture war in which everyone seems to think the government needs to bless and oversee everything in our lives, the freedom of the parent-child relationship has always been in danger. But there is something different here, because this is really about children potentially being labeled as "abused" for the indoctrination they receive at home. In government schools, they are of course fully exposed to secularism, but apparently religious schools are making UK Atheists nervous and uneasy. They are, they claim, worried about the freedom of the child.
They seek to change "public perception" as opposed to "campaigning politically", but of course in this time of everyone's personal beliefs and whims translating immediately into government action, I think there is cause to be concerned. Of course, I expect (hope?) that the vast majority of people think this is bogus, but then again, I myself was raised in a home in which - largely because of my father's wishes - I was raised to "decide for myself." Ironically I adopted the staunch atheism of my father, which of course points to the strange irony of the atheists' goal. How on earth does a parent fail to influence a child's faith under any circumstances? No matter what belief a parent may have, it will be imprinted upon the child! So if they truly "free" the child to believe whatever they like, no doubt that child will readily join Mom and Dad at the Unitarian, Episcopal, or NFL Church on Sunday morning. Really, it's laughable.
Also, suppose public perception does change (yes, government regulation WILL follow, don't you doubt it) what on earth sort of family life are these people wishing to design for us?
"Now kids, Mommy and Daddy are going to ask a blessing for our food, will you all please step outside for a few moments and do what feels right while we pray?"
And where does it end? What morality shall we teach our children? If not informed by our faith, will the government provide us with a "code of ethics" to assist our children in being moral citizens of some sort?
The current rage of “non-fiction” or “documentary” films ought not to bear such labels, because the terms both have too much association with vague notions of a sort of textbook “truth.” Fact is, these newer breed of films are better termed audio-visual editorials...or in worse case scenarios blatantly misleading propaganda. If you’ve ever had to sit through one in which you held contradictory opinions, then you know what torture they can inflict – there’s never a contrary view provided and there’s never any real debate. Of course if you subscribe to the filmmakers worldview then these films are the self-indulging great hope for mankind...or something.
As it so happens I agree with about 51.89% of the opinions (give or take) expressed in the editorial film “Food Inc.” and I would encourage everyone to see it. Now, I will nail my current intellectual colors to the mast and say that I do indeed believe in the value of organic, sustainable farming and I also believe in the importance of buying locally. We don’t always practice what I "preach", but we usually go out of our way to live these values, but by the same token I do NOT judge or condemn those who do not share these values. I hate it when people lift up such issues to the level of religious truth and meander about evangelizing and wiping the dust from their feet as they leave the homes of non-believers. I’m happy to share WHY I think these things are important to me, but I’m a big proponent of individual liberty and responsibility. And that’s where I find myself parting company with a significant proposition in the film: that the government must protect me and through intense regulation, taxation and oversight support my values with regard food/farming.
Food Safety and our need for protection It’s decidedly reasonable, I think, for there to be some regulation here. But let’s be realistic: you can also build an indestructible airplane, but you’ll never get it off the ground. The fact is, if you eat food you will always be risking food borne illness and there is a TREMENDOUS amount that you – PERSONALLY – can do to help prevent it. We (us) are the final line of defense and if we are busily living our lives expecting that the government will save us from everything bad in the world, whether it be a financial crisis, a hurricane, or food poisoning then I’m afraid we are deceiving ourselves with fairy tales. It’s like a Police officer I know who once told me: “99% of the time we arrive at a crime scene, not a crime in progress.” And yet somehow we really think we have some assurance of real safety through prayers offered to 911.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against food safety regulations - I'm going to have to keep saying that because inevitably someone is going to comment as if I suggested there be NO food safety oversight. But by the same token, just because a bit of legislation is a food regulation doesn’t mean it makes sense, is reasonable, effective, or necessary. For instance, in many states it is ILLEGAL to purchase raw milk from a farmer. This is a “food safety” regulation. Hey! Who is so stupid to fail to know that the pasteurization of milk will reduce the SLIGHT chance of a food borne illness and that buying raw milk is a SLIGHTLY greater risk? I certainly don’t need any government regulation to protect me from my own freedom in this regard! Fact is, raw milk has far more nutrients (lost in the pasteurization process) and obtaining it from its source affords you the ability to directly support a local dairy farmer who would ordinarily get far less for his product than it’s worth. Such regulation robs you the consumer of your freedom and greatly favors huge factory milk operations against who small family dairy farmers cannot compete.
Consider how much the average consumer is willing to pay for a gallon of milk? Regulations will inevitably cost the farmer and this doubly hurts the small farmer who must suffer the cost of a "middle-man" processor and whose mega-factory competitors can often afford the new regulation easily. But in the end, regulation costs will be passed down to the consumer until such a time that the government steps in the “regulate” costs because of the public outcry which adds makes it even more impossible to survive and compete if you are a small family farmer.
In the film, we hear about how terrible the various E.Coli outbreaks have been over the last decade or two. And truly there were awful, I remember them well - particularly the Jack-in-the-box fast food fiasco. We follow in the legal footsteps of the mother of one of the victims around she lobbies the government for greater food safety regulations. As I recall, we never really hear many specifics about the specific legislation they are trying to pass, but there is this sort of underlying tone that we should all readily agree that government should do everything possible to insure our safety...and I frankly think that statement is absurd. We should do that, but not the government. Think about it, by this logic you should be insisting that the city provide a Police Officer at the door of every home 24hrs a day. There is a limit to what government can do, and there’s a great deal that we as families CAN do, but don’t. Where should our emphasis be? I think one excellent aspect of the film is that it makes clear that mass- production of food is inherently more dangerous to the consumer. But what the film fails to note is that IF to government were to overly regulate the industry you would very quickly lose any of the "benefits" of incredibly inexpensive food...and you'd very quickly crush the small local food providers. Once again I will pause and say that I am NOT against all government food regulation.
Another area where we are apparently helpless is, according to the film, related to our poverty levels and our evolutionary lineage. Now anyone who has read my blog before knows I am vehemently opposed to the very notion of Darwinian determinism and so when the film even briefly suggests that evil food corporations are deliberately targeting our irresistible evolutionary food triggers, I immediately begin to tune out. Give me a break! There’s no conspiracy here, they are selling their products the same way all products are sold and if we are powerless to resist them why bother making the film? Hello? Freewill? Look, I’m fat, so I know it isn’t easy, but I’m not going to sue the pork manufacturers of the world for my fondness for pork. I make my choices (period).
So, if you are “poor”. The odds are (we are told) you will be fat because you are unable to buy anything but Twinkies and Doritos. Puhlease! Watch me get fat on organic rice, cheese, pasture raised beef and bean burritos. Yeah Twinkies and Doritos are awful for you, but you can totally get fat eating healthy food...just as soon as your caloric intake exceeds your output. Don't get me wrong, I realize that Doritos and Twinkies are patently awful for you and play havoc with your body in ways healthy food doesn't, but I think my point stands none-the-less. And besides, I don’t believe for a second that anyone is forced by economics to eat like crap. The example in the film of the family whose kids won’t chose the apples at the store because they can’t get “enough” of them is really too much. Are we seriously supposed to believe that they have NO CHOICE but to eat at fast food restaurants? That’s astonishingly expensive compared to what you can make quickly and easily at home. If I haul my family out to Taco Bell, we can expect to pay at least $30 for that meal, while even the very best of meals we make quickly and easily at home coast a fraction of that. And yes, the VAST majority of us do have time and if we really care about what we eat we should make that time. Obviously I cannot speak for every family on the planet, but what on earth is the film proposing here? That for that rare family that truly has NO TIME AT ALL to prepare their own food at home we should legislate that healthy and cheap fast food exist? Through planning and careful budgeting you CAN eat healthy food without paying more...yes, you can. But if your idea of healthy food is prepackaged organic or all natural microwavable –instant foods, then yes, you will pay more. Michael Pollan says in the film:
“To eat well in this country costs more than to eat badly. It will take more money and some people simply don't have it. That's one of the reasons we need changes at the policy level so that the carrots are a better deal than the chips.”
Well I don’t believe his premise is necessarily true, as I said. People who take the time to educate themselves, to plan and prepare, and investigate, I think will find they do not need policy changes to make sure “carrots are a better deal than chips.” I suspect for the vast majority of people, it’s just easier to buy the chips than listen to the kids scream about what a rotten deal carrots are compared to chips! I say this from my own experience, both in taking the easy way our AND in having to keep a fairly small monthly food budget. Just google "eat healthy cheaply" and start exploring. I get really nervous about seeking some means by which the government will make chips more expensive or carrots less so. The devil is definitely in those details and as I said I absolutely believe such regulation is wholly unnecessary.
By this point in the film, I was starving (pun intended) for a healthy and encouraging story of personal empowerment in the face of “food inc” and to some degree we were provided that with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt company. Many of you no doubt know Mr. Salatin, and believe me, his perspective...or even his mere presence in the film...was like a breath of fresh air. Up to this point one would think our only food choices were coming from horrific, over-crowded, borg-like beef feedlots measured in square miles and chicken factories where birds have never seen the sun. It seemed as if we were being told we had no choice but to appeal to the government, and now here is Joel showing us the glorious world outside of the cave in that we have a great many options. One of my favorite parts of the film is where Joel is shown with his farm hands butchering chickens and he tells us about how the GOVERNMENT tried to shut him down because his slaughter house had no walls. He goes on to relate that scientific testing proved that his chickens had significantly less bacterial contamination than the heavily regulated chicken factory processing plants! (Please do keep in mind what I said above about government regulation that doesn’t help.) Later, we see people shopping at the Polyface Farm store...people making a choice. Now, are Mr. Salatin’s free range, pasture raised chickens going to cost more than the stacked-on-top-of-one-another, hormone-treated, never-set-foot- outside, mass produced chicken? Of course. The latter is produced quickly, cheaply, “efficiently” and on a massive assembly line like scale which ends with the consumer getting a decidedly unnatural price and a much reduced quality product. But hey! Fifty cents a pound! At that price I can go and buy 3-4 bags of Doritos for dinner and Twinkies for desert instead of a using that bag of brown rice that I bought a month ago ( and is STILL providing for us) for the same price as the aforementioned “treats.” So while you spend more on the chicken, by making intelligent choices elsewhere you can actually save money.
And, in actuality, you have even MORE choices than you likely realize. While at the local County Fair (a great place to meet food producers) a few years ago, we met a breeder of miniature Hereford cattle. They do not make their living as beef producers, but by the nature of their business do produce beef as a by-product of their breeding business. As such, they often try to network with people interested in buying beef right off of the farm and their prices are quite competitive with the beef of unknown origin found in the local supermarket. He is completely upfront about how his cows are raised: some are grain fed, but most are grass fed, and we’ve even been able to visit his farm. There is, in my humble opinion, an inherent value in knowing who produces your food and you can meet them in ways you may not expect and then come to find out they can feed you for surprisingly low prices.
Now, Gary Hirshberg is a fascinating man. He’s what I suppose could be called a serious “green” guy, one who you'd expect would also tow the left-leaning line of heavy handed government protections and social engineering. But he has come to believe, apparently, that the best way to effect change for the good of the planet and the sake of healthy, sustainable food is to utilize the free market. The film has Gary dealing with what most of his associates admittedly consider to be the absolute pinnacle of evil: Wal-Mart. But Gary sees opportunity for market forces to do good and not unexpectedly he gets results - in the film we learn about how WalMart stopped carrying milk with growth hormone and readily began to carry Gary’s Organic Yogurt. Why? Because, quite simply, it made good business sense to change. Clearly, consumers have far more power than they think, and WalMart will carry whatever it may be that enough of us demand. If we educate the public, demand will shift, and then sit back and watch the companies provide for it. I think Gary himself said it best:
“The irony is that the average consumer does not feel very powerful, they think that they are the recipients of whatever industry has put out there for them to consume. Trust me, it's the exact opposite. When we run an item past the supermarket scanner we're voting...individual consumers changed the biggest company on earth."
The “regulators” try to use smoking as an example of their ability to crush a bad thing with the heavy hand of government. I would argue that this is highly debatable. What role did an educated public play in the decline of smoking? I would be willing to bet that it is far more significant than the government making every legislative and legal effort (and now even so with regard to the individual smoker) to crush big tobacco. Were this not the case, the outcry against government's heavy hand would have been massive.
I believe in people. I don’t believe people are defenseless ignoramuses in desperate need of government protection. Given a bit of education, they can wield their marketing power to make healthy food choices even MORE readily available. If people care enough, they will do it. I’m willing to be convinced about the need for some specific legislation (I’m not an anarchist after all), but, education is where the real power is to be found. The powers-that-be will bow down far more quickly when we begin to take our dollars elsewhere.
For example, have you noticed exactly how the mega-breweries are struggling to regain their market shares lost to Micro-breweries? They are desperately trying to re-image their brands or even produce more competitive products as small craft brewers all over the United States have successfully appealed to the tastes of the people. And those people are demanding MORE from the ale products they consume. No doubt the “big boys” have thrown their weight around, but in the end WE the consumers will decide. I think the big corporations are going to have to get used to sharing the playing board with the small guys. And so will “Food Inc"...to an even greater degree than it does now. There are options, let’s grow them by voting when we buy.
In any event, this was a thoughtful editorial film and I recommend it, but clearly I don’t buy everything in it.
Many of us Christians wring our hands over the ongoing secularization and commercialization of Christmas. We write letters to the editors of our local papers, we wear T-shirts or bumper stickers declaring the real “reason for the season,” and we even contact our elected representatives. For some reason we think we can stem the tide of secularization by explicitly eliminating the process amidst our government, as if to suggest the government is the litmus test for our cultural-religious morality whether it be in the expression of huge government social programs or if the tree in the White House is referred to as a “Christmas” Tree or a “Holiday” Tree. I find myself weary of the process...to some degree it is just another front of the culture war that I used to be willing to fight but will not anymore. In fact, I will protest against that war by suggesting both sides invest too much in government and that if they would STOP doing that no one would care what President Obama chooses to call the tree in his White House. For all I care he can call it “Spanky the Light Conifer!”
But seriously, here's a thought for all of us Christians worried about the secularization and commercialization of Christmas: Don't secularize and commercialize YOUR Christmas. One simple (though not easy) way you can accomplish this is to participate in Advent and the traditional 12 days of Christmas. “Spanky the Light-Holiday” may begin On November 1st, but despite what you may be witnessing at the City Hall, the WalMart, or the Home Depot, Christmas doesn't actually begin until December 25th! I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. Additionally Christmas is not something that lasts a single day! It does not simply end after a furious unwrapping of gifts, a trash run for Dad, and a meal. It’s supposed to last for TWELVE DAYS! How cool is that! (Addendum: As Fr. C notes in the comments: for the Orthodox the Feast of Christmas lasts through the 31st of December, not up until Epiphany/Theophany as in the Western Church. So you westerners get 12, we get 7 days...figures!)
Advent, which begins shortly (November 15th for Orthodox Christians), has always in the past been a time for Christians to prepare - NOT by shopping or cooking but by personal discipline: fasting prayer, and almsgiving. Christians of all breeds, I think, need to return to this venerable tradition – especially if they bemoan what has become of Christmas in America.
Now, let me shut up, and leave you with these words from an unusual source. Maria Von Trapp, after she and her famous singing family escaped the Nazis and landed in America, was taken aback by the lack of Advent in America. I remind you that this would have been in the 1940's.
From “Around the Year with the Trapp Family:
The events that come to mind when we say "Christmas," "Easter," "Pentecost," are so tremendous that their commemoration cannot be celebrated in a single day each. Weeks are needed. First, weeks of preparation, of becoming attuned in body and soul, and then weeks of celebration. This goes back to an age when people still had time--time to live, time to enjoy. In our own day, we face the puzzling fact that the more time-saving gadgets we invent, the more new buttons to push in order to "save hours of work"--the less time we actually have. We have no more time to read books; we can only afford digests. We have no time to walk a quarter of a mile; we have to hop into a car. We have no time to make things by hand; we buy them ready made in the five-and-ten or in the supermarket. This atmosphere of "hurry up, let's go" does not provide the necessary leisure in which to anticipate and celebrate a feast. But as soon as people stop celebrating they really do not live any more--they are being lived, as it were. The alarming question arises: what is being done with all the time that is constantly being saved? We invent more machines and more gadgets, which will relieve us more and more from the work formerly done by our hands, our feet, our brain, and which will carry us in feverishly increasing speed--where? Perhaps to the moon and other planets, but more probably to our final destruction.
Only the Church throws light onto the gloomy prospects of modern man--Holy Mother Church--for she belongs, herself, to a realm that has its past and present in Time, but its future in the World Without End.
It was fall when we arrived in the United States. The first weeks passed rapidly, filled with new discoveries every day, and soon we came across a beautiful feast, which we had never celebrated before: Thanksgiving Day, an exclusively American feast. With great enthusiasm we included it in the calendar of our family feasts.
Who can describe our astonishment, however, when a few days after our first Thanksgiving Day we heard from a loudspeaker in a large department store the unmistakable melody of "Silent Night"! Upon our excited inquiry, someone said, rather surprised: "What is the matter? Nothing is the matter. Time for Christmas shopping!"
It took several Christmas seasons before we understood the connection between Christmas shopping and "Silent Night" and the other carols blaring from loudspeakers in these pre-Christmas weeks. And even now that we do understand, it still disturbs us greatly. These weeks before Christmas, known as the weeks of Advent, are meant to be spent in expectation and waiting. This is the season for Advent songs--those age-old hymns of longing and waiting; "Silent Night" should be sung for the first time on Christmas Eve. We found that hardly anybody knows any Advent songs. And we were startled by something else soon after Christmas, Christmas trees and decorations vanish from the show windows to be replaced by New Year's advertisements. On our concert trips across the country we also saw that the lighted Christmas trees disappear from homes and front yards and no one thinks to sing a carol as late as January 2nd. This was all very strange to us, for we were used to the old-world Christmas, which was altogether different but which we determined to celebrate now in our new country.
Hundreds flock to Seattle atheists' convention Wow, hundreds! And 16,000 nationwide...well heck even we minuscule Orthodox outnumber them, so there's some comfort in that. Angry "Origin of Species" thumping atheists are as intolerable as those who thump Bibles...perhaps worse - I can say that because to some degree I've been both, especially the former. But here's the line that really cracked me up:
Freedom from Religion wants to "keep religion out of law-making." Haha! Good luck with that, for as long as religious people VOTE, religion will be involved in lawmaking! How many do you suppose presently support the health care reform on religious grounds?
And then this: With less religion, less God, less belief, there's more opportunity for morality, more opportunity for knowledge, more opportunity for true human value.
Now I have no idea what he means by "true human value", but I have my suspicions. And therein lies the problem, it's up to personal interpretation. The very fabric of the atheist moral construct is held together by subjective personal opinion. Whereas "true human value" in the Christian world view is incalculable. It is not something you can quantify, because if you could then "true human value" implies that it varies from person to person just as surely as math equations do. A child with down syndrome as compared to a child prodigy?
Human value is derived NOT from personal interpretation, but by the very nature of the fact than humans are created in the Image and Likeness of God and are loved by Him. Everyone of them.
"more opportunity for morality" really means (for the secular person) that you have greater ability to add variable to morality. It isn't set in stone, it's written on a chalkboard and YOU wrote it and YOU have the eraser. I have my moral values and Ted Bundy has his own. I cannot say mine are "right" and his are "wrong" because morality is FULLY subjective. This moral bankruptcy and disconnect caused for me - as an atheist - a profound worldview crisis that eventually led me to consider that I could not fathom a world in which Darwinism was the only moral foundation. That moral code (the very thing that brought us humans into being and into dominance) is quite simply competition and victory at the expense of others. Dominate and subjugate is the rule it teaches.
I ended up having to ask: Could there be more? Because if there isn't, then who am I to criticize an Adolf Hitler as anything other than someone doing what his evolutionary inclinations led him to do. He died and lost in the end...end of story. No morality tale here, except to say one ought to consider being more discreet with their hedonism if they wish to be truly successful. That's just plain common Darwinian sense.
But if there is more to life. Something transcendent. A greater good. A a Creator and "Lover of mankind." It changes everything. Everything suddenly has a real objective value.
So, I suppose I can agree with the atheists' idea that without God that have "more opportunity" for morality and human value. Indeed, the are thereby freed to have opportunity to believe whatever they may choose about them. Say hello to the cattle cars, those of you with less human value.
Look, don't get me wrong on this point, while I rather like and regularly participate at “Face”book, I recognize that it is just one more very particular way of bolstering the great facade of life. In fact I would argue that the internet in general from a social standpoint is the WORSE for allowing us to deceive one another.
Yes, we deceive one another. We do it all the time, though it isn't necessarily (for the vast majority of us) some grand overt effort to lie. It may be as subtle and even appropriate as making your house immaculate before guests arrive, or as potentially dangerous as hiding a truth about ourselves from our spouse. But no matter what, I think – at least in my personal experience – it stems in part from wishing to project an image of who we wish we were to others. I think if we are honest with ourselves we'd see this...or maybe I'm just crazy. But wouldn't we LOVE it if we were so on top of our lives that the house was always immaculate, that needed repairs were immediately accomplished, that projects were tackled and completed in a timely manner? Or that we are good people, perpetually full of love and compassion. Or that we are good parents who are devoted and hardworking, raising PERFECT kids. On and on it goes...in the end we just want people to think the best of us and for many of us it is very painful to learn that someone has seen through the facade and perhaps knows us better than we like. Sometimes they are right in what they see, and sometimes they are wrong and simply replace our facade with a different one of their own making...but when our facade is broken (either way) we must deal with reality. In some ways we are like politicians in that we seek to control or “spin” the news to our benefit – limiting or even eliminating the bad and proclaiming from the rooftops the glories and triumphs of our lives.
There is a rather gruesome TV series called Dexter, which I never...NEVER watch because a part of my facade is that I do not pollute my mind with trashy television. But if I had ever seen an episode of Dexter I would tell you it is about a serial killer (who via an ongoing policy of self-discipline, only kills bad people) and who then struggles to blend in with humanity and hide the truth about his inner self, The intriguing portion of the show, to me, is that we are all like Dexter in our efforts to hide our true selves. Dexter is forced to try and maintain his facade at ALL times, and thus struggles terribly, as you might imagine, with intimacy. (If Dexter could live his life entirely on Facadebook he'd have it easy!)
Intimacy I believe, to some degree is a term we may use to describe a place where we can begin to let the rigorous efforts of maintaining our facade rest. At least it should be. And I think we should struggle to build more intimate relationships...and I don't anticipate that happening on Facadebook. The internet is like a foundation which invites or even beckons us to build our facades upon it. Nobody posts pictures of themselves losing their temper and yelling at their kids. No one posts a blurb about how they are seriously struggling with anger. Instead we all present our facades...again, not like a deliberate deception...but just showing as much of our lives as we are comfortable showing, knowing that nobody really WANTS to hear that we had a crappy day and that worse yet it was of our own doing. (Sure we'll sometimes note having a rough go of it, or having a bad day...but I don't think it's the same as SEEING someone having a bad day, free from the filters we will naturally strain the news as it finds its way into Facadebook.)
At Facadebook we present the immaculate house: smart quotes, wise insights, pictures demonstrating our idyllic life, and other things that generally demonstrate that we are not nearly the damaged goods that reality might reveal. This isn't wrong and it isn't bad...but we must remember it isn't reality. How often have we looked at others' Facadebook accounts and thought: “Wow, how is that they have their crap so together! They are perfect! My life is so dysfunctional in comparison.” And will we make these determinations from Facadebook postings? Yes, many of us will...knowing full well it's absurd. That said, I won't even mention the insanity that may exist amongst people who really believe they have their crap together, are perfect, and have no failings. To them I would simply say: Please write a book and let the rest of us know how to do it! (It, being, the unfathomable depths of self-deception.)
I'm not going to settle now on being a curmudgeon who will sit in judgment on Facadebook and refuse to use it any longer. Nor will I shake my head at postings of idyllic pictures (or even stop posting them myself – even if I manage to find some). Facadebook may maximize our ability to maintain our facades, but our facades won't go away simply because we stop using the internet...facades are a very long human tradition that began when Cain told God he had no idea where to find Able. But I do want to pause more often and consider reality, which is much harder than most of us realize.
The serial killer Dexter may be like us in many ways, but one thing never occurs to Dexter: to share who he really is and then to seek to CHANGE it. This is the ultimate danger of our facades, in that we live them so well (Or God forbid we live on Facadebook so much) that we begin to ignore who we are as real people. We neglect intimacy (as I defined it above) and in so doing we neglect the glorious opportunity to change.
Let our “facade” be that of the image we see in the Icon of Christ...and let us pursue it believing that through Him we can in fact make our facade real. Let us do it in real community and intimacy, sharing our failings, leaning on, and loving one another with all our many faults not seen on Facadebook.