I guess the first caveat to the posed question might be -- would Jesus have a Twitter account? That's a bit asking what kind of car Jesus would drive, as neither piece of technology was available to first century folk. But, having added in that caveat, the question is -- how do we who are followers of Jesus use the new technologies, and what kind of message would we offer?
Niraj Warikoo, religion writer for the Detroit Free-Press, called me the other night to talk about just this question in preparation for an article that appears today in the Free-Press. I offered some of my thoughts about blogging, which appear in the article. Niraj picks up on the conversation that I've been having about the proposed NY mosque, wherein I support that community's right to build the mosque. Of course, not all agree. But then, that's their right. The article emerged out of questions being raised at the way in which social media is used by church members. That led to a conversation with a number of people, both clergy and non-clergy -- Christian and even Muslim and Jewish. What Niraj discovered is that there is great openness to these new forms of communication, but also concerns as well, which is why the local archdiocese is looking at setting up guidelines.
The question that Niraj asked me concerned why I do this? Why do I keep this blog and try to blog every day, even when I'm on vacation? Well here is Niraj's reporting of our conversation:
Spreading good news can be difficult to do in an arena where vigorous discussions about faith and identity can often spill over into vitriol. But that only compels the Rev. Bob Cornwall of Troy to use it more often.
The author and pastor at Central Woodward Christian Church blogs daily and uses Twitter to communicate with his flock and reach a national audience. He started about four years ago after sensing the need for a more moderate Christian voice.
"I wanted to share a message that was more progressive, more moderate, pluralist and open," Cornwall said. In recent weeks, Cornwall has written in favor of the proposed Muslim community center near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, criticizing other Christians who rail against Islam.
"There is no place for stereotypes that lead to hate in our communities," Cornwall argued on his blog. It drew a fierce discussion online, with some strongly disagreeing with his post, while others backed him.
I recognize that there are many bloggers and other users of social media that have a much more negative agenda than do I. If you look to those on the far edges of both conservative and liberal sides, as well as the margins of many of the world's religious and political groups, you will find negative, even violent, agitation. As I noted, and Niraj reported, even if my message tends to the left side of the center pole, I try to offer it in a moderate tone. We must remember that blogs and social media are simply tools, technologies, that can be used for good or ill. Therefore, it is up to us to decide how to use the technologies wisely.
As for my answer to the question: What would Jesus Tweet? I said:
"Love God, love yr neighbor, btw even love yr enemy, b/c God loves u"
How would you answer this question?
Image from Gospel Clip Art.