1st Church of Christ in Facebook
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 4:57 PM [+]
Really, isn't as novel as the author leads you to believe. Some folks I know in the PoMo movement have been doing stuff akin to this for quite sometime actually, while others I know in the movement are actually opposed to this - and these would be those typically found in house churches eating organic fair trade granola of somesort. I agree with these latter folks who would suggest that the author is TERRIBLY mistaken to suggest that Facebook is a community. It most certainly is not a community. On the contrary it is a faked community and in fact does a pretty poor job of it.
In my area of science there is what is known as a base pair analogs which are molecules that are similar enough to one of the four real nucleotides as to be mistaken as such by the enzyme polymerase while doing its job of replicating your DNA. When the analog is used, it can stop replication altogether or it leads to a mutation in the DNA sequence that may or may not have very serious consequences downstream - it all depends on where exactly the mutation takes place and whether it changes the Amino Acid and also whether the changed amino acid changes the function of the protein of which it is a part. I'm tempted to call Facebook an analog of community, but only so when people (like Polymerase does a base pair analog) mistake Facebook for community.
Of course to some degree what community is, is up to interpretation and therefore I'm really only stating my opinion and should not phrase that opinion as if it were verifiable fact. That said, I'd like to remind us of two words that share the same root as "community": Commune (the verb) and Communication.
To Commune in the Orthodox sense is obviously intended to reference Holy Communion. Indeed a sacramental life is not one that can be shared in an online "community." For us Orthodox, one can fairly say we are a "touchy-feeling" sort of religion...at least in the sense that physical participation with ALL the senses is required. But even outside of this context to "commune" is to connect with intimately. The word comes from an old French word meaning "to hold in common." It's certainly connected with communication, but seems to take it a step further. One cannot "commune with nature" by watching a screen saver and I'd suggest neither can we commune with one another via Facebook.
Even simple communication is handicapped by Facebook - and not just Facebook but the internet in general. I don't know what it is about people, but it seems when we sit down in fron of our computer screens with the intent of engaging people online we seem to do so with canon fire in mind rather than communing. I've seen people (perhaps even myself) say some of the most rude and obnoxious things online that I sure (or at least hope) they would never have said in a face to face conversation. Facebook and the internet it seems is much better an arena for religious/economic/political arguments than Christian communion of any sort.I've heard studies suggest that a person beyond the wheel of a car becomes 10 times less patient than if he or she were walking. I rather expect that for many people the internet makes them 10 times likely to try to pick and win an argument than if they met someone in a coffee shop.
The other way communication is hampered is that tone of voice, facial expressions, hand and arm movements, and even touching are a critical part of how we communicate and ALL are missing (or at least profoundly hindered) online. ALL. This often allows for wild misinterpretations of what is really trying to be communicated by people sometimes. So not only do you have people being jerks, but other jerks misinterpreting what the other jerk is saying.
How does this communication problem play out in trying to "do" church on Facebook. Well, it should be interesting to say the least.
My advice, FWIW, get up out of bed on Sunday morning and go to church. It will do you good to get out of the house and BE with REAL people.