Saturday, July 31, 2010

Twitter Communion cancelled

The Rev. Tim Ross has canceled Twitter Communion.

Planned as a live worldwide event to evoke Christian unity, it eventually fell victim to unintended controversy. Ross, a retired Methodist minister in Worthing, England, had hoped Christians from various traditions around the globe would gather at their computer terminals on Aug. 14 and take bread and wine (or grape juice) if their beliefs allowed. But Methodist authorities asked Ross to call off the event because it comes at a time that the denomination is still trying to figure out the proper use of the Internet by the church.

Ross stressed that he wasn't outright forbidden to hold communion by Twitter, the microblogging website that limits "tweets" to 140 characters, but he was strongly requested to cancel for now.

"It was never my intention to be controversial much less confrontational. The whole point of Twitter Communion was to offer the Christians around the world the opportunity to step beyond their differences, to meet in fellowship and love and to celebrate the common-union we all share through Christ’s body and blood," Ross writes on the Twitter Communion website.

The series of short tweets that will constitute a prayer for Christian unity will take place at the same time Twitter Communion had been scheduled for, Aug. 14 at 5 p.m. EDT in the United States.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Theology: Where doctorates and the unschooled are equal?

If my car is acting up and I don't know what's wrong, I first check with my dad or my brother; they both know a lot more than I do about the subject. But if neither of them can help me fix the problem, I call my mechanic -- after all, he's an expert.

But theology seems to be one of the few subjects that no one seems willing to defer to an expert on. (Politics is another.)

Why this is so is beyond me; having the proper theology might have eternal consequences, depending on who is correct, so you'd think people would see this as a major decision. Nope. They're quite happy to just do whatever feels right to them.

But they treat their cars far more seriously even though the worst thing that is likely to happen if you guess wrong is that it will break down eventually. (Of course, if it's your breaks that are going bad, it still would be good that you've decided upon the correct theology.)

This problem stems from the fact that in a free society we may have any opinion on any subject without penalty of the state. That's a great freedom to have, but freedom of thought without consultation of experts is as dangerous as is the freedom to rebuild your own car engine without any training.

Yes, theologians and atheist and agnostic philosophers have deep divisions among themselves as to what the "truth" is, but that shouldn't stop those of us untrained in theology from seeking their advice before deciding upon an opinion of the afterlife.

Even if I want to try to fix my own toilet, I ask somebody or check the Internet first. Yet millions of thinking humans are content to concoct their own theology and assume they're right.

It's a common cry that members of organized religion blindly follow whatever they are fed. This can, indeed, be a danger, but just making up something in one's own head is no less intelligent. At least those who recite the Apostle's Creed are following a belief system that has been tested and tried by millions over several centuries. Why is that more stupid than just following one's own path?

I'm not arguing to pick a theologian or philosopher to just blindly follow; I'm just saying that no one who knows nothing about automobile engines would give his own opinion of what's making that funny noise under the hood the same weight as he would the opinion of a professional mechanic. Why do that with what might well be the eternal destiny of his soul?

For a view from someone more learned than I am (I did drop out of Bible College, after all) check out All Saints Writers Block.

You should follow me on Twitter here and Facebook here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Minister plans communion by Twitter

UPDATE: Twitter Communion has been canceled, and will be replaced with an alternative prayer. The time is the same.

He's already led a modern Lord's Prayer by Twitter. Now, the Rev. Tim Ross, a Methodist minister in England, is ready to try a worldwide communion on the social networking site.

"It’s a way for Christians to show that we really do belong to one Church, that we can lay our differences aside and proclaim that we are united in one thing - our love for Jesus," Ross writes on the website Twitter Communion.

Twitter Communion will take place Saturday, August 14, at 22.00 British Summer Time. That's 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 2 p.m. Pacific in the United States. And if you're on the other side of the International Date Line, you'll have to get up early Sunday to join in.

To participate, you must first follow Ross on Twitter (@TimRossMinister), then, at the appropriate time be at your computer following his tweets with bread and wine or juice at hand.

More info, including the prayer Ross will be tweeting, can be found at