Saturday, January 16, 2010

I Blog The Body Electric

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.

5 comments:

ineptseamstress said...

That is a scary but true thought.
What is the saying that "England and America are 2 countries separated by a common language?"
Well, I guess we as a group are people divided by being connected.
Def. something to watch out for.

Tom Gabbard said...

Jennifer,

I believe that you have addressed something that is on many minds today. We are living in a time of disconnectedness, brought on in many ways by our own technology and modernity. I am currently reading the book "God in the Wasteland" by David Wells in which he makes many similar observations concerning our estrangement from one another as we live out our lives in our own little worlds. In a sense, I truly believe that the mad pursuit of things and self-gratification has robbed us of much of our humanity! We have become very adept at ministering to our own "felt needs" at the expense of personal interaction, which has been ordained by God for our good and His glory.
I, like you, am grateful for brothers and sisters that can be fellowshipped with in some way through various electronic means, but, I also agree, that it is no replacement for face to face communion.
Much to ponder!

Latisha Grady said...

Love it! Excellent idea. You inspire me. Keep submitting to the Spirit of the law.

Julius Mickel said...

I liked that, you hit the nail on the head, I certainly 'feel' ya.
My first church experience was in England (though I was young and lost) but I do remember clearly that things were very 'plain', I mean it was common to be invited over EVERY Sun (and other days) to somebody's messy home and eat something as simple as tuna fish sandwiches, if you missed church somebody called or stopped by.
However the 'NORM' seems to be ALL rush, shorts services with most people having one foot out the door by the closing prayer. Naturally larger churches cater and though it may be unintentional encourage the non-personal.
grace and peace

Caren or Danielle said...

By way of encouragement, Jennifer, my best friend in God's green world began with an email. Cheri was my daughter's editor for a California newspaper. When Cheri was facing life-ending illness with her mother, I began to write her since I had just lost my Mother. Long story short, although we live 4 states apart, we are together at least twice a year with ongoing communication through email and phone several times a week. That virtual friendship grew up to be something!

And the best is that last summer during a visit together at Flathead Lake in Montana, my friend surrendered her "so-called life" for God's real one. She is now my newborn sister in Christ. Wondrous adventures can begin in cyberspace and end in up close and personal eternal relationships.

You are doing God's work. Thanx for your obedience. Wish we could catch coffee together.

And by the bye, my blog is: macmurchy.blogspot.com

May God be near ~ Care MacMurchy, Watertown, SD