I’ve taken a Sabbath from posting on social media for a few months.
A wonderful team of people who have more technical skills than I do have kept me present in more venues than I know how to operate. I actually enjoy most of the conversation that occurs in cyber land. But I had grown restless, and I wasn’t sure why. So, I stopped writing about things that matter to me. I wanted to get to the bottom of my own restlessness before engaging again.
Two things have been helpful: a book and an obituary.
The book is Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now. He writes about resisting anxiety, coercion, exclusivism, and multi-tasking. His understanding that the fourth commandment stands as the link between love of God in the first three commandments and love of the neighbor in the last six. While most of us see the command to practice Sabbath as a matter of passive obedience, Brueggemann views it as an act of active, conscious resistance to the life-sucking socio-economic powers that run a culture of death. I suppose social media gets its claws into us in ways that do not permit our detachment. The constant anxiety of response, disgust, and information train us in the ways of the need for now and know.
Truth is, I found myself whirling more than resting, even when I tried to rest a bit with an iPad on my lap. So, I’ve been thinking more about this. My friends Tim Green and Tim Gaines have written about the use and abuse of technology in A Charitable Discourse Volume II (which was released last week). They are right about the power given to us to curse others via social media and the subtle distancing from the doctrine of the incarnation as we deal in words rather than bodies.
The helpful obituary was of a man I never knew, but he held a job that I am still coming to terms with – the college presidency. Jack Coleman was the president of Haverford College, a Quaker tradition school. If my memory is correct, he died in his nineties. During his term, he was constantly at the center of conflicting interest groups. His obituary quoted him as saying, “In actuality, a president is at the center of a web of conflicting interest groups, none of which can ever be fully satisfied. He is, by definition, almost always wrong … It’s all very interesting, and not hard to take once he gets over wanting to be right and settles instead for doing the best he can.”
I found a dead friend whose wisdom helps me.