Tuesday, September 24, 2013
We’ve all seen them on Facebook: Posts of pictures featuring folded hands or sad-eyed lambs with oversized text that says: “If you love God, Stop what you’re doing and Repost this. Jesus said, ‘If you Deny me before Men I will deny you before My father’!!!”
Aside from the random capitalization, which in itself makes me insane, I resent being told what to do on my own Facebook page. The only person who can get away with that is my husband Widdle Baby, because he Pays the Bills.
Worse yet are posts that declare, “If you love God, repost this within two minutes and something AMAZING will happen to you at midnight!”
First of all, I already know what’s going down at midnight: I’ll either be punching my husband in the kidney for snoring, or creeping into the kitchen to eat the last butterscotch brownie.
Secondly, this reduces my Creator to a chain letter. (If God indeed judges mankind, He could conceivably smite such posters at midnight, which would certainly be AMAZING.)
I come by my cynicism honestly: My mother despised chain letters, back when they were… well, actual letters. When one appeared in our mailbox, Mom always tore them into tiny pieces and/or telephoned the sender for a royal blessing-out. This was decades ago, when people had party lines, so those conversations could get pretty interesting.
When Mom received one from a fellow Eastern Star member, she confronted her at the next meeting and informed her, through tight lips, that forwarding a chain letter amounted to blasphemy. “And stamps aren’t cheap,” she added, as an afterthought.
A (real life) friend posted something on Facebook last week-- presumably after receiving one too many “Repost if you’re not ashamed” exhortations--that made me want to stand up and cheer. Here is his status: “I am wondering how God communicated with you and asked YOU to test MY faith by posting a picture on FB asking me to stop what I am doing and share the picture. My faith is still here, I have passed God's test (as far as I know) but I have failed your test. Sorry.”
Tell it all, brother! This friend is faithful and has spent his life serving others, so don’t be thinking he’s a backslider. He just said what I’ll wager many people are thinking.
Here’s my take: I believe God is everywhere, but I don’t think He has a Facebook account. He’s got bigger fish to fry.
Now, I’ve been known to praise God on Facebook. Once--after an awful, amazing day that strengthened my faith--I called Jesus my boo.*
I don’t challenge people to like my posts under threat of, say, their dog dropping dead. I just put it out there, to be appreciated or ignored. Nor do I think God or His son is going to read my status and say, “All right! Girlfriend gets extra points!”
Another thing: I don’t nag my FB friends who are either agnostic or straight-up atheist. I don’t force religion on anyone because frankly, it’s rude. If you’re seeking, I’ll tell you what God’s done for me, but I’m not going to say your life is meaningless if you don’t believe.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to back away from the keyboard. It’s not midnight, but I hear a butterscotch brownie calling my name.
*My nephew Junebug, who attends mass faithfully, wears a shirt that says “Jesus is my homeboy.”
Julie R. Smith, who still fidgets during a long sermon, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.