Tuesday, March 03, 2009

personhood rant

in his recent book, "New Monasticism: what it has to say to the church", Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove makes the case that "it's hard to be a Christian in America."  he makes his case well but i might add that it is even harden to be a human person in America.  (perhaps these are the same thing but that is for another post).  A new book by Joel Green called "Body, Soul, and Human Life: the nature of humanity in the bible" does a remarkable job of surveying biblical wisdom about what it means to be human.  Green includes serious reflection on the latest neuroscience and a picture of 'human personhood' emerges - a picture that is beautiful and in every way relational.

So, why is it so hard to be a human person in America?  because if to be human is to be in relationship with people and creation around us  (geographically near to you!) we are fighting an uphill battle.  many of the wonderful things that we spend time and resources on draw us away from people and creation near to us (facebook, blogs, emails, phones).  Green argues that properly formed human persons require continuity in memory, narratives, relationships, and in the air we breath and the earth we walk upon.

just now i read this article (Thanks to Mark Sayers for the link) and this is why i believe it is (increasingly) hard to be a human person in America.

here are some snippets from the article:

But not everyone is enamoured. Last week leading neuroscientist Lady Susan Greenfield warned that social network sites "risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind", leaving a legacy of short attention spans, trouble empathising, sensationalism, and a shaky sense of identity.

As well showing concern about the risk of such sites shortening attention spans (producing similar symptoms to those of children with attention deficit disorder), she worried about our need for instant reactions and constant reassurance when using the sites. The latter arises from how much of our ego is at play online.

Some who haven't joined Facebook's 175 million members or who joined but later left (in Facebook parlance "committed suicide") say their disquiet about the site is not always due to the usual concerns — privacy, data ownership, the stealth advertising — but something more grubby, and modern: self-promotion.

Facebook, as well as being a tool that connects people, is being used to advertise yourself; it functions as your PR agency and your brand manager. It's how you spread propaganda about yourself and disseminate information about your best self. Want everyone to know how caring you are? Join. Or even better, create a group supporting firefighters, or endangered species or peace on the Gaza Strip.


Anonymous said...

since i live in america, its easy to be a christian here. the question is what sort of christian do i want to be? personally, i strive to be the publican. when i can maintain a publican relationship with god for several hours or days, then maybe i can move onto something else. the maddness of the present age is only fertilizer in disguise.

Ross Christopher said...

Our church just finished a 6 week series on Sabbath Rest and Solitude and used Hartgrove's, New Monasticism as a launching point for our discussion. Great stuff. This idea of separating ourselves from the cultural norm was one of the most difficult discussions and most rewarding one's we've had in years. Thanks!

-Ross Christopher