The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Against Internet Religion

An "Inside" Post

(This post is intended for one particular individual who may or may not be reading this blog. He will know who he is when he reads it. So sort of like an inside joke, there will be many things that I say that only he will get. The rest of you are more than welcome to read it as well, and hopefully you too will get something out of it.)

There are some individuals whose only real contact with Christianity comes through the means of a blinking screen. This is often not their fault. Our society is one of complete licentiousness, broken homes, and fractured discourse. How many people have I known that were raised with no religion at all, and when they go on-line, they get interested in the Christian Faith just as others might get interested in role-playing games, pop music artists, or pornography. What else is to be expected? They weren't raised in a religious household and in a religious culture, where you were dragged to church Sunday after Sunday, and sent to religion classes at your parish whether you liked it or not. Neither was their life defined by the rhythms of the Church. The cycles of birth and death in my Catholic family were always marked by going to Mass. Not everyone has had that experience. And hence Faith becomes just another hobby.

Some have gone even farther, and actually begun practicing the Faith with much fervor. They have gotten involved in wacky sects, ancient extreme practices, and have given their heart to people who probably didn't deserve it or at least did not know what to do with it. After that, they feel "burnt" by Christianity, and feel that even if they are still interested in it, the best way to associate with it is behind a keyboard.

The Internet has been both a blessing and a curse in my own walk of Faith. I found Roman Catholic traditionalism through the Internet as an atheistic student at Berkeley. The next thing I knew I was a seminarian for the Society of St. Pius X in South America. I also was sustained in my whole Byzantine Catholic phase by the Internet, and I got to know people who were just as delusional and unrealistic as I was, and share my thoughts about the Uncreated Light, spiritual fatherhood, and a whole lot of other ideas I no longer believe in. I have found support in my newly-found Anglicanism, but now I just don't have the time to stare at a screen for hours and hours. I am learning slowly to let go of Internet religion.

Religion is all about routine and obligation. Yes, you should ideally have flights into the seventh heaven while contemplating God's love, but that is not going to happen very often and when it does you will regret the aftermath when you find you are still a very sinful human being. You get up Sunday morning and you go to church. That is the least you can do. No matter how boring, how painful, how unappetizing that concept may be, you have to do it. There is no other way. Often we feel ashamed before the Lord, we feel that we have to be purer in order to stand in His presence. That day will never come unless you go before Him face to Face. You may feel burnt out spiritually, unwilling to commit, unwilling to have your feelings hurt again. But this is ultimately not about you and other human beings, its about you and Jesus. And Jesus is waiting for you.

So don't just stand in the back of the church and wonder if you should go in. "I will arise and go to my Father's house." If the Prodigal Son only had the intention of going to his Father's doorstep, he would never have been greeted so lovingly while was still on the road to his Father's House. You have to go in, find yourself a pew, and begin to talk to God. It will be painful; trust me, I have been there. But you have no choice. One day you will have to do this.

I apologize very much if I gave you a cold reception. Maybe I came to church that day needing as much healing as you did, so I just fell to my knees and ignored you. It is cold actions like this that give us Christians a bad name. I should have been more hospitable. You don't have to come back there in particular. Just go somewhere where Christ is worshipped and loved, and you will find that you will begin to heal, slowly but surely.

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