I’ve long since decided that social media is bad for your health. Yet, like my love for potato chips, I keep at it. Day after day. I scroll through my newsfeeds, filled with anger, arrogance, and vitriol. It certainly doesn’t bring as much satisfaction as the crisp of a kettle cooked and salted to perfection chip, but addicted as I am, my thumb slides, almost as if uncontrolled by my brain, up, and up, and up.
At some point, it seemed like I had seen it all. Obama didn’t do this. Trump did that. Hilary and Mitch did this or that. If I wasn’t addicted to the swipe, I’d certainly be hooked on the anger. The rage cycle is designed to keep us coming back so that the advertisers can get eyeballs on their links. I’d probably gotten to the point of ennui, If I’m honest. I couldn’t get angry one more time. I couldn’t be sad again. It was all, in the great biblical euphemism, vanity. Yet, like a dog to its own vomit, I keep going back.
And then it happened. I was caught unexpectedly by the image of a mother and who two young children, running away from a grenade of billowing smoke designed to sear the eyes and lungs. What do I do with this information? How do I react? What do I feel? I had nothing. I was angry, sad, horrified, and embarrassed all at the same time. I knew as a leader of a faith community that I was being called to say something, but I had no idea what. So I posted this:
When words fail, I’m grateful for the wisdom contained in our BCP:
“Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us…”
And if you could take away tear gas, that’d be good too.
Then, I opened the readings for Sunday and I saw this warning from Jesus, “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.” He is talking about the eschaton here, but I think maybe he’s talking generically as well. Don’t let that day, or any day, catch you unexpectedly. There will come times when your faith will lead to you question the world in which you live. Don’t be weighed down by worry, frivolity, or the swipe of your right thumb. Don’t be so used to the noise that you miss the cries of the oppressed. I still don’t know what to do or what to say, but I know that I can still pray.
Almighty God, tear down the walls that separate us, human beings divided and enslaved by sin, and gather us up on the banner of your Son, the Prince of Peace, the King of kings, and the hope of all humanity. Amen.