Stellenbosch Gemeente is busy with a series titled “Breek Uit”. (I was not sure whether to translate this to “Break Out” or “Break Free”. I went with “Break Free” due to inspiration from Queen.) This Sunday’s theme was “Isolasie”, presented by André Serfontein.
Homo Sapiens are a gregarious species. Theory has it that we have large brains in order to deal with the complications involved with social interaction. By our very nature, we have a need for deep connections, real relationships. (Note: this is my own abridged version of the service. I’m attempting to share the essence in my own words, mostly avoiding use of Christianspeak).
In an ironic twist, our contemporary communications technology seems to undermine truly deep relationships. Relationships and friendships are a lot of work, and requires compassion and understanding from us, beyond what a selfish mindset will allow. Instead, our need for true relational intimacy (we’re not talking physical here) is being soothed by an inadequate substitute. We collect quantity, instead of quality. We collect a few hundred Facebook friends, and then try to feel better about ourselves.
The service pointed out a number of “enemies of true community”. The first was pseudo-communities. Facebook runs great risk of being nothing more than a pseudo-community: shallow in the interactions, with no real depth. Of course, as a communications tool, it is up to the user to use it effectively or ineffectively. (In my opinion, zombies biting one another is shallow. Fun, but ultimately inadequate for satisfying a very real human need.) Reality TV is another one of these pseudo-communities: the audience gets to climb into the lives of someone on TV, and feels they are building a “relationship”, but obviously this is a one-way relationship with no real depth.
Another “enemy of true community” identified, was a “self-spirituality”. All too often certain forms of spirituality (or religion) is focused on the individual and his or her needs, without caring one iota about true community. People go to a service or sermon or church purely for what they can receive, that they may feel better about themselves or something along those lines. True “Christianity” is supposed to be all about community and relationships.
Here is an interesting link I saved from June 2006: Americans Have Fewer Friends Outside the Family, Duke Study Shows. I need to find out more about the research done in South Africa. I wonder how we compare…
We can discuss more of the Christian theology related to this matter in the comments, if needs be. I will also link to the service as soon as it becomes available. (I am intentionally avoiding the “sermon” word, pretty much as I am intentionally avoiding Christianspeak in this post, due to the audience I have in mind.) Last week’s theme was “Afgestompdheid” (something like numbness) by MC Engelbrecht, and next Sunday’s theme is “Eentonigheid” (monotony), presented by Theo Geyser.