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Church of Facebook, Community And Spirituality

The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice came out October 2009, and it brings up some interesting observations about how technology has affected how we experience relationships. A book review by Danny Franks explains that Rice pulls out the “always on” mentality that Facebook (and other social media) have created for people. Rice explores this mentality with what it means to be part of a community and also what it means to be a believer, although in less detail. This exploration highlights how we behave in relationships and how they affect our approach to life.

Read Danny Franks’ review of The Church of Facebook

Church of Facebook review by Paul Steinbrueck – read more

Visit the Church of Facebook website

Zuckerberg and Facebook as a ‘church’

A New York Post article reported that Zuckerberg claimed Facebook can fill the role that the church once had in people’s lives. He apparently thinks that Facebook delivers purpose and meaningful community to the people who use it. He also thinks Facebook must work to support those communities. In these ways, Facebook is similar to a church, according to Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is ‘the new church’ – read more

Alex Duke on the Gospel Coalition site responded to Zuckerberg’s claims. Duke counters Zuckerberg’s optimism noting that “We all love to dwell on untapped potential. But specific policies about what to do with that potential are boring, and work is hard.” He agrees Zuckerberg has identified a need that is going unfulfilled for people, but resists the idea that every community provides the same kind of meaning. He suggests it is an oversimplification to think of religion as serving the same connective purpose as sports teams. Duke goes on to critique Zuckerberg’s comparison of meaningful communities through many examples where community and church are defined differently than the traditional concept of church. He concludes by noting that “opt-in” style churches are not the same kind of work as the more traditional church.

The ‘Church’ of Facebook by Alex Duke – read more

Not all communities are the same

I agree with Duke’s critique, especially when I revisit what I said about different kinds of friendships in my post about The Spiritual Relationship from two weeks ago. I noted there are different kinds and qualities of friendship from acquaintances to confidants. I think it is a mistake to equate a playmate as the same relationship as a confidant. They provide two very different connections to life, and groups that form around similarly different roles are the same. I also think the mentor-seeker relationship is unique and creates another very different kind of connection to life and community experience. It seems wrong to assume that groups that form around these different kinds of friendships would deliver the same kind of connection.

On the other hand, I don’t think many people know how to think about their friendships and their relationships in a way that clearly identifies what’s lacking. They may sense a lack in their lives. However, they may not know how to identify what they lack. It may be that our different needs get met over time through evolution of relationships, and that any kind of community can be a good starting point for creating meaningful connection.

Religion and spiritual life

In my blog post about Religion and Spirituality, I mentioned that, “The big difference between spirituality and religion is that spirituality is where our need to make sense of life exists and religion is an attempt to fulfill that need.” People may find different ways to fulfill their different kinds of needs in life. As I continue with this series, I will explore different parts of the self and how they may develop into more spiritually healthy behaviors, whether or not that includes a formalized religion.