I am a big fan of the old Twilight Zone Television series. There's this one episode you may remember. It's called, "I Sing The Body Electric." In this episode, three children lose their mother to some illness, and in an effort to fill the void that she left behind, their father decides to get a robot modeled after a kindly older woman. "Grandma" is not just any robot. She is actually capable of love. The three children reach adulthood under electric Grandma's tender loving care, and at the end of the story, just before they all go off to college, Grandma explains that her job is done, and so she will be heading back to the factory to be recycled. The kids thank her for everything and that's pretty much it. There are no tears when faced with the knowledge that they will be losing their dear Grandma. Unlike their real mother, who died, Grandma can never die. She will live on with different body parts, and be sent to another family to help raise those children. But one has to wonder if the lack of emotion is because she will never die, or because the children never really had a true relationship with her in the first place. After all, she is not a real human being.
The title of this episode comes from a poem by Walt Whitman by the same name. Whitman celebrates the human body as something sacred, and ponders the interconnectedness of all human beings. The Twilight Zone, in its traditional fashion, has taken this idea to a place of irony by offering a commentary on what might happen in the future if we forget how precious human beings are. Perhaps one of the reasons I love The Twilight Zone is that I often feel as though someone from the past is trying to warn me about the future. It is not uncommon for me to look around at the world I live in and realize that these predictions, thinly disguised as science fiction, have come true in many ways.
Tonight I spoke over the phone with someone about the fact that there are most likely some folks out there who associate some sort of notoriety with our label. Thanks to Facebook, we're fairly well-known on some level. But in spite of all the people out there in cyberland who appreciate what we're doing here, the truth is there isn't a single person in my church who has any clue that this blog even exists!
It's not that I've kept it a secret. I haven't gone to the other extreme of promoting my blog to my friends, either. From time to time, I've mentioned casually that I have a blog. I may have even given the web address to a few folks. But for some reason, my blog has not really caught on among the people I know personally. And I will confess, that has me feeling a bit empty and lonely this evening. It also leads me to a very interesting thought: What does the future hold for interpersonal relationships, considering that the people who know me best have never heard of this blog, which is such a huge part of my life?
While I am very thankful for the support of our readers, I can't help feeling at times that each of you is like an electric grandmother to me, filling the void that a real human being has left behind. And I imagine there are times I come across as an electric grandmother to you in return. I think of all the stay-at-home moms who don't have anyone over the age of four to talk to all day. I think about how many of them might turn to blogs like this to gain some sense of interconnectedness with other human beings. As a single person, I too have experienced this type of loneliness. I come home from work and there is no one to talk to, no one calling on the phone, and no new emails. It's frightening to think that email is quickly becoming an outdated form of communication in our present age of Twitter and text messaging. If you're not on a social networking site these days, you may as well be living in an isolated bomb shelter.
Cyber-relationships are a lot like the "Body Electric" robots. They provide us with something that we were previously missing, but they can never replace the real, flesh-and-blood relationships that we have face-to-face with the people God has placed in our immediate vicinity. Blogs, Facebook, MySpace and the like are wonderful tools, but they should never take the place of genuine relationships.
Christ died to break down the wall between us and the Father . . . Why then, do we insist on rebuilding that wall, only to work tirelessly to tear it down again ourselves?Christ died to break down the wall between us and the Father. The Bible tells us that when His work was accomplished on the cross, the veil was torn in two from top to bottom. It was not torn from the bottom up. In other words, God himself tore that veil to symbolize the removal of the barrier of sin that not only stood between us and Him, but also between one another. Because of Christ's work on the cross, we can now have fellowship with one another. Why then, do we insist on rebuilding that wall, only to work tirelessly to tear it down again ourselves? In other words, we put up walls with the people in our lives. Then we come to feel lonely about this, so our solution is to communicate with different people through the veil of a computer screen.
I am curious about the people who read this blog. If you are a public follower of this blog, I want you to know that I have looked at your profiles from time to time. I wonder who you are, and why you are reading my thoughts. I may not know you personally, but I do acknowledge each of you is more than an avatar on a profile. You are real, flesh-and-blood human beings, with feelings, thoughts, and opinions. I look through some of your blogs and I am touched by much of what I've seen, even though it is just a mere snapshot of your lives.
For this reason, I have felt led to honor some of you here. In the upcoming months, I may contact you to ask your permission to feature you on this site. Soon, I hope to begin a new series of posts called "SHEologian Spotlight." In the spirit of Philippians 2:3, I want to take an opportunity to esteem each of you as better than myself. My goal is to honor and encourage as many of you out in cyberspace that I can. I realize that I am not a physical shoulder to cry on, and I don't expect to take the place of real, face-to-face edification in your lives.
But I do intend to do everything in my power to be the best darn electric Grandma I can.