james k.a. and zadie smith on facebook

As [Zadie] Smith notes … “We know the consequences of this instinctively; we feel them. We know that having two thousand Facebook friends is not what it looks like. We know that we are using the software to behave in a certain, superficial way toward others. We know what we are doing ‘in’ the software. But do we know, are we alert to, what the software is doing to us?” Twitter and Facebook are not just “media” that are neutral, benign conduits of information and communication; they are world-making and identity-constituting.  They invite and demand modes of interaction that function as liturgies. Like so many formative liturgies, they extort the essential by the seemingly insignificant, precisely by telling us a Story, capturing our imaginations to perceive the world in ways we don’t even realize. We imagine more than we know.

Christian worship invites us into a very different social ontology, through a different set of rituals—a counter-liturgy. Whereas the technological rituals we just considered reinforce a social imaginary in which I am the center of the universe, only related to others as an audience for my display, Christian worship is an intentionally decentering practice, calling us out of ourselves into the very life of God. That worship begins with a call is already a first displacement that is at the same time an invitation: to find ourselves in Christ … calling us out of ourselves and into the life of the Triune God, not to “lose” ourselves, but to be found in him. (James K.A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom)

This is a timely rebuke—and one I’ll be needing constantly.


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