“Any existing church SocMed responses that are unembarrassing for you?” Bp Paul asked me, as part of our conversation earlier this month. I’ve already blogged the first bit here.
Unembarrassing for me? I’m easily embarrassed. I’ve never really got over watching teenagers dancing to Kumbaya when I was about six, it made me cringe. I have much the same reaction to quite a lot of intentionally Christian modern music. I’m sorry, I really am. I want to like it. But, as mentioned before in these pages, I was brought up on the Book of Common Prayer, so I can chant “O God make speed to save us” with a total lack of sense of anything strange. I suspect I am not a good embarrassment yardstick for Bp Paul to use.
I’ve found some interesting churches on Twitter – and I think Claire from St Laurence, Cowley (@StLCowley) deserves a shout, not only for her church tweeting but for her willingness to try using different characters and voices – try @ChirpyBirdy007. Doing this is time consuming and requires skill, and may not be for everyone, but I like it. Most churches tweet information about services and events, which strikes me as sensible, particularly if they are willing to engage in conversations, which is rather the point of Twitter. Less sensible is the “shout into the ether” – I have met a few examples, and they irritate me, although some learn as time passes, especially if someone talks back to them. All communication is two way.
But there is a more underlying difficulty, beautifully illustrated by Richard Coles on Twitter this morning…
…where Christians have tried to appropriate a “cultural symbol” and change its meaning to something more Christian. Now this IS embarrassing. Acid House was around late 1980’s or so? So the symbol is not terribly culturally relevant to people under 40. They mostly won’t know about the significance of a rainbow, other than in a Gay Pride context. So the Christian use of these symbols isn’t helpful in terms of reconnecting.
Therein lies the problem. If Christians try to appropriate secular symbols, we mostly look daft. It’s like me answering my daughter with the phrase “I’m down with that” (it means “that’s fine”). I become inauthentic. I am no longer quite me (unless I do it with heavy irony). Somehow there has to be a way to remain authentically ourselves while connecting with others. After all, we all do it every day (unless we are totally cocooned by other Christians, in which case we really need to think about how we are responding to the Great Commission). We all survive in this mysterious culture which so frightens Christians. God is already there, working within it. We don’t need to assign Christian meaning to every last event, we just need to articulate where God is. Authentically. Living like we believe it.