If God is God, Then God Tweets

Are social media tools a blessing or a curse for people of faith? Should we use digital technology to commune … Continued

Are social media tools a blessing or a curse for people of faith? Should we use digital technology to commune with the divine? Does God tweet?

To the extent that there is a personal God who receives our prayers, and I believe that there is (mostly), then tweeting those prayers to Jerusalem, Rome, Mecca or any other holy place is entirely reasonable and appropriate. In fact, it’s pretty strange to imagine a God big enough to pray to, who is not big enough to understand our prayers in whatever language or mode they are offered. But of course, this question isn’t really about God, it’s about us.

The social media which allow us to pray along with on line communities, study sacred texts with friends on Facebook, and all the rest of the new technologies which facilitate greater expression of whatever faith we hold, should all be celebrated. The fact that we even ask about such things should not surprise us though. People have resisted technological change, especially in religion since we made the shift from story-tellers sitting at camp fires to canonized oral texts. And the struggle only got more intense when the shift was made from fixed oral texts to printed ones.

In each case, large numbers of people saw the new technology as genuinely threatening. In some ways they were right. With each great leap in technology, the meaning of religion, religious community, prayer and study have all shifted. So to the extent that some (many? most?) of the religious were tied to the way things had “always” been, they had every right to be nervous and even resentful.

But since the founding of virtually every religion on the planet was a response to something, not an attempt to preserve it, such resentment flies in the face of the most traditional religious issue, the one challenge which lies at the heart of every tradition: how do we positively change ourselves and our world in light of the present challenges we face. That has been the message of pretty much every teacher who has come to be regarded as a founding father, or mother, of a faith.

As with all new technologies, correctives will need to be built in. We need to address that it is not always helpful that a prayer can not be longer than 140 characters on Twitter, or that it is simply not possible to physically bring soup and medicine to the sick and needy in our virtual communities. But, if we really understand the stories of how traditions are born, then Twitter, Facebook and all the rest are sacred vessels waiting to be filled with purpose and meaning, no different than the printing presses which sent Bible around the world in unprecedented numbers.

Ultimately, the question is not really about either the vessels or the God to whom they are dedicated. The question is about the stewards into whose hands those vessels are entrusted. The question is not really whether God Tweets, but are we capable of tweeting anything sacred, purposeful or meaningful. If we are, then I suspect that in a few decades the most reverent among us will be wondering how we ever got along without such sacred technologies as Twitter and Facebook.

About

Brad Hirschfield An acclaimed author, lecturer, rabbi, and commentator on religion, society and pop culture, Brad Hirschfield offers a unique perspective on the American spiritual landscape and political and social trends to audiences nationwide.
  • MGT2

    This technology is well suited for our generation. No one wants to spend more than a few minutes in either church or synagogue; no one has the time to listen to a well thought out answer to any question–we have become addicted the “sound-bite” response.Wisdom is never a quick process, it takes time to understand the relationships of people, things, events and ideas. We may occasionally be able to tweet some pithy remark or response, but that will be the exception.I suspect that in the long run, when intellectual and spiritual malnutrition has set in, people will begin to realize that a snack is no substitute for a well balanced meal. Then, they won’t want to eat so fast.

  • Paganplace

    I would say, MGT2, that spending a lot of time hearing the same things over and over again is no more ‘spiritual’ just cause it’s in a brick and mortar building. Just takes longer to figure that out.

  • Paganplace

    I mean, you know, MGT, just maybe, MGT, taking it to the Web, however awkwardly, is actually some kind of response *to* age-old-notions of ‘religion by rote and authority’ not being *enough.* Maybe it’s not that people are ‘tempted away from churches by junk food,’ but rather, just plain going away hungry. Now, what they bring here may not exactly be sustainable farming, but maybe it’s premature for you to ‘blame the symptom.’

  • MGT2

    PAGANPLACE,You said,”Maybe it’s not that people are ‘tempted away from churches by junk food,’ but rather, just plain going away hungry.”Maybe you are right.You also say, “hearing the same things over and over again is no more ‘spiritual’ just cause it’s in a brick and mortar building.”You won’t get any argument here.What I’ll say, however, is that quick responses, more often than not, lack thoughtfulness.

  • Dermitt

    I’m using myface. Can’t live without it. Thank God.

  • Dermitt

    Business is business and profit is Victory. Loss is hell. Some days breaking even all you can hope for, so there’s always hope in the future. You make a mistake, you own it. Better off with Miss Take and Give. Life! Peace and love. Live life to the fullest and keep cooking or get cooked.

  • US-conscience

    I think most churches only produce junk food ( with the exception of John Piper, John MacArthur, Stephen Lawson, Mark Dever and other churches of their ilk – probably less than 1 % of the total ) mgt2 said “No one wants to spend more than a few minutes in either church or synagogue” Thats probably true for the 99%, but for me and those I know who are True Christians ( true blue born again seed sowers – as apposed to the 99% of those claiming to be Christian but the fruit of their lives dont bear witness to a Holy Spirit Transformed life ) We LOVE sermons that are loooong and HARD. The longer ( 1 hour min. ) the better and the harder the better. Repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are living in the year of Jubilee, but one day the door will be closed and the gnashing will begin. ccnl1 – I’m amazed at your willingness to believe just about anything except the truth.

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