Over the past year several colleagues have urged me to join Facebook. To put this in context, I am one of those dinosaurs who made it through a Master’s program without having touched a computer – all theses and term papers were typed on a typewriter. It was only with the sheer volume of written material for my doctorate that I finally gave in to the technological revolution. Since then I’ve been sucked further and further into it, always a little bit reluctantly. When I read I like to have a book or magazine or newspaper in hand. When I communicate, I prefer a conversation to an electronic chat. Well, there are advantages to the technological world, but Facebook seemed a little too much. Caving to pressure, however, I eventually gave in and became a Facebooker.
One of the things I’ve learned from the daily updates of people – many of whom I’ve not seen since high school – is just how religiously conservative many of my friends are. I get daily, sometimes hourly, news updates about what the Lord is doing. He’s a pretty busy guy. Sometimes these friends look at my blog and wonder what has happened to me. When they ask, I have to wonder how deeply down the rabbit hole do they really want to go. I’ve been a professional religionist for nearly 20 years now – unfortunately several of those years have not included regular employment, but the work it took to get here can’t be undone – and prior to that I spent nearly 10 years in school studying religion. Anyone who makes it through an advanced degree in this field and comes out with the same viewpoint as when they entered it has had their mind firmly closed all along.
Religion is a phenomenon that can be studied, just like pottery or fashion history. Once a genuinely open mind is brought to it, perspectives begin to shift. Some of my friends who are less gracious about this respond by quoting the Bible at me, as if I’ve somehow learned how to forget the Bible while earning a Ph.D. in it. What they don’t realize is that if you want to learn about your religiousness in any serious way, there will be several Rubicons to cross and some pithy snippet from Paul is not going to change that. I don’t use Facebook to announce my religious thoughts to the diverse body of “friends” on my account. I use this blog for that. Those who are truly curious about religion might learn something from someone who’s been in the biz for nearly three decades. Others are content to announce to the world what the Lord is doing through Facebook.