Sunday, 25 July 2010

A communion of twits

Jonathan Wynn-Jones, one of the numerous Torygraph religious commentators, has a piece this morning on a tweeted (twittered, twitted? I know not and have better things to do with my thumbs) communion service being offered by an earnest Methodist minister (see ).
Rev. Tim Ross, instead of bothering to turn up and communicate face-to-face with the faithful, will send out a prayer in a series of Tweets. Then those who, in turn, can’t be bothered to join him (or any other priest or congregant) read each tweet out loud before typing Amen in reply.
The service hasn’t gone live yet, but Ross says hundreds have signed up already. He claims Twitter is "….. a community that's as real and tangible as any local neighbourhood and we should be looking to minister to it”, and further that "The perception of church is often that it is rusting away in antiquated buildings and not in touch with the world around us, but this is a statement that we're prepared to embrace the technological revolution."
Actually I’d say it was more evidence that the god business is in such deep dooh-doohs that now the practitioners can’t even offer the one decent service (excuse the pun) it formerly provided, i.e. a place for the socially isolated to see another friendly face on a Sunday morning.
Curious that almost everywhere else in the press church leaders grumble that individualism has caused a decline in religion, yet quietly they’re trying to tap into technology that enables ersatz ecumenicism for spiritual geeks. Or perhaps the real target is just all the sad middle managers who go to every pretentious marketing conference and love psychobabble, not to mention taking a Blackberry on holiday and texting the office every 30 minutes to prove how ‘committed’ and ‘indispensable’ they are.
At the other end of the scale is one of Living Hell’s regular shindigs (see ), based on Nuremburg rallies and the kind of torchlit mass screamfests their mentor, Ian Paisley Senior, used to tell the world (or at least any passing TV camera) that ‘Ulster Says No To…….’, well, just about anything that involved being human or exercising more than two braincells really.
Although on the surface this is about ‘community’, beneath that it is quite exploitative. An office colleague comes under extreme pressure to attend from a housebound relative who got the Living Hell plague via Southern Befrienders. In theory SB is a social outreach scheme heavily subsidised by government for the elderly, housebound and otherwise socially isolated in the South of the island. In practice it’s another scam run by Living Hell, where wild-eyed Baptists get access to the vulnerable at home , then, rather like the Krays, ‘suggest’ that if they don’t come to church or join in their various protection schemes, life could get very, very lonely. Suggestions on the lines of ‘If, for example (and we really hope this will never happen) you should fall over in the bathroom one day nobody will hear you scream’ have been made, so I gather. In turn, because the SB team are so “busy”, the victims are given the suggestion that they could, say, ask a younger relative to take them along to the rally.......oh, and they could bring the family, it would be a nice day out……
I think you see how it works.
Not so much a growing Christian community, more of an evangelical pyramid scheme, made more practical because it has enough well placed members to ensure government never puts money or resources into real community building.

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