If Jesus was born today, what sort of world would he find?
A very cheerful and large group gathered for our session this week on What sort of community would Jesus find. We listed to a TED talk by psychologist Sherry Turkle entitled Alone but together – see below for details and questions that we considered. The Bible passage for exploration that followed the talk was 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 in which St Paul examines the body and how each element is related to the whole.
This week people seemed even more relaxed and engaged than last week – with humour playing a very enlivening role at some tables! The talk explored the potential effect that electronic communication and social networking could have on the way people communicated with each other. And how that could affect the way society as a whole worked. Some of us fell more into the category of enlightened electronic Luddites that avid Social networkers, but all acknowledged the potential negative and positive effects that Twitter, Facebook and the like could have. The point raised in the talk about people withdrawing from company onto their electronic devices where they could create and control their own virtual world, rather than interact with others face to face, had been noticed by everybody. The potential to for this to limit the social competence of people young and older was also noted.
There was also discussion about whether the fear of intimacy, which had also been raised in the talk, and in the bible passage discussion on how the church worked as a community. Are people fearful of being open to others? Do they expect to engage with others at a deeper level when the join the church community? Does the church encourage and facilitate deeper personal relationships?
There are no slick answers to the challenge of living as a community, especially within the church. Electronic communication had real potential for harm, but equally real potential for building community, if it was used as a powerful and creative tool facilitating and supporting real relationships. There was strong agreement that Jesus would go onto Facebook if he were to come again now, as it would provide a great opportunity for him to reach many.
Next week we will be exploring welcome. There is still time to sign up – don’t miss out! – you can book your place by clicking here.
ADVENT SUPPER – WEEK 3
9 December 2015
TED Talk – Connected, but alone?
Some questions for discussion during our meal:-
- Discuss your reactions to some or all of these points the speaker makes, and consider the implications of the situations she describes.‘We’re getting used to a new way of being alone together. People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere – connected to all the different places they want to be. People want to customize their lives. They want to go in and out of all the places they are because the thing that matters most to them is control over where they put their attention.’
‘Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for mere connection.’
‘And so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Our ‘flight’ from real time conversation denies the capacity for self reflection.’
- Were there any other points that particularly caught your attention? Why?
- To what extent do you recognise any of the habits, changes and trends the speaker talks about in yourself, and in others you know? What effects has it had on relationships?
1 Corinthians 12.12-26
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.
Questions to consider
- What is Paul’s vision for Christian community living in this passage?
- How does it contrast with what’s happening in digital communities and relationships?
- How could we, in the Chase Benefice, respond to the isolation and false connectedness suggested in the talk?
- How can we teach younger people to have and value real conversations?
- Are there ways in which we could use digital communication and connectedness to bring about positive benefits for a community?