What I'm Writing
Let me ask you: “what does the fox say?”
Here’s my guess: it says we are slouching ever closer to that Gomorrah known as the one world culture.
You’ve heard, watched, or been subjected to that internet meme: “What does the Fox Say?”
(Click over; if it’s new. I’ll wait.)
And, now, with that catchy little rhyme and those strange masks in your head. Consider the fact for a certain portion of last week, the first week of June 2014, the Wikipedia page for that song was the top trending story for the entire planet.
Now, here’s the point: what does that mean?
This is where the world needs not just skill, but creative inspiration to help make meaning from that little bit of data. Making meaning means taking a contextually specific stand about something that matters to you. Or, said simpler, it means looking at your life and your world and making a judgment call about how something matches or doesn’t.
So, for many of us, the Fox doesn’t mean all that much or even really matter all that much.
However, and here’s my point, the difference in this new post-post world is we have the opportunity to discover the context we thought mattered – culture, history, religion – matters differently.
These holy three used to define people’s worlds, but no longer. People today need to develop their own skill at making meaning, divining how some new bit of data, connects with the context of their lives, and leads to new understanding.
It could almost be a math equation:
Internet fox + my life (context) = meaning (understanding)
Making religious meaning used to be the sole or largely so, responsibility of those in traditional roles of church leadership, but no longer. As people, learn to navigate the informational tidal wave, they must either learn to swim or be washed away.
The challenge people of faith face is how to make meaning using some of the traditional markers of faith, which can feel very confining in a world so awash in newness.
Teaching people the skills of meaning is one of the great challenges all of the world’s faith traditions face.
The Christian response is that each life has meaning, because of the shared meaning found in Jesus the Christ. Said, another way, each life matters, because God cares enough to love.
Today’s challenge is not getting information into the hands of the faithful, but rather to help people of faith learn to make meaning within the various contexts that they find their lives.
So, what do you think? How do you make meaning in this world today?
Nothing puts more perspective on all the time spent on sermons, like looking at a Thursday afternoon collection of trends on Google/Trends. (http://tinyurl.com/kjnwka)
Don’t believe me?
Go check for yourself.
Compare, something like, “sermon” or “prayer” or “church,” with someone like Justin Bieber.
“Sermon” doesn’t come out so good; although for good or ill “church” does seem to have a longer forecast than a certain singer.
(If you haven’t played around with this data yourself; I would encourage you to. Particularly, if you’re interested in finding that heavenly note of relevancy, which is often elusive in many sermons, I’ve heard over the years.)
My point: back in my parish church days I spent hours writing sermons that, it seems, the world is not really looking to hear. If Google is a representation of our great cultural imagination, then sermons are not going to carry the day.
However, I do suspect that hidden in this ocean of data, is also something very profound about what it means to be human. Humanity is incredibly complex, and, increasingly we have the data to show that complexity.
Preaching into this new world takes guts, but also it takes fresh eyes to see what is happening in the world today. Google has offered us preachers a way to see the world, the whole global world, with new eyes.
Here’s my take away: I believe strongly that learning to read and understand information like this, is essential for having and finding meaningful things to say to this brave new world. People drown in data and they need people of faith and calling to help them learn to swim.
So, dear reader, how has this data changed your view? What new insights have you gained?