At the SATRS AGM tonight, I’m making an attempt to assess where religion and society have wandered on their merry way from 1984 to the present. It’s been fascinating to research and re-live those 34 years.
It brought home to me (thanks to ever-changing technology) how different an experience the generations have as they grow up. Trevor Noah made me laugh on The Daily Show last night when he mocked the 1982 paper wall calendar US Judge Brett Kavanagh has produced to prove his innocence. (The judge must hoard – who still has a calendar from 1982 – come on now, confess!).
Trevor pretended he couldn’t understand why the calendar wasn’t talking back to him like a smartphone diary. Being born in 1984 makes Trevor a ‘millennial’. Their ‘signature product’ is the tablet or smartphone. Many a parent and grandparent has noted, usually with exasperation, how wedded those born between 1981 and 1995 are to their cellphones.
In response, in part to Gen X and Millennial demand, the internet’s spawned many spirituality apps – from meditation timers to community chat groups on wellness to inspirational quotes to streaming professional yoga classes to youtube lectures and presentations.
One critic argues that communal aspects of religion, frequently (though not always) key to good mental health, is missing in some spirituality apps. The vision behind them, however, to slow us down rather than stress us more, is valid.
Might the ‘church’ of the future be an online experience for the majority? If so, what part do we play in that as producers or consumers? What elements of our present worship experiences would translate to internet use and which would not? The reflection/sermon has already become the blog, the whole-church experience could become a youtube post, meditative moments already exist on the internet with pictures and music set to scripture and other readings. I’m not sure hymns will make it across the divide in a meaningful way. Morning coffee afterwards would lose some of its aroma, immediacy and connection which is what the critics of online spirituality mean – connecting face to face with people is good for our mental as well as our spiritual health.
So come to church on Sunday! We will be reflecting on the concept of befriending our ‘inner wolf’, inspired by a legend of St Frances of Assisi – a good person to finish the 2018 season of Creation for us. (His feast day is October 4th.) Those of you participating in the focus group for Hospital chaplaincy are meeting after church too, while the rest of us enjoy that intimately sociable morning tea/coffee/other beverage. Be a radical pilgrim, meet your spiritual companions face to face!
Susan Jones 027 321 4870 04 909 9612 firstname.lastname@example.org
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