My Facebook feed screams an assortment of opinions. What once required the cost of a printing press or the investment of a publishing company is granted to millions of people for free: a format to be heard through written language. I’ve certainly been at fault; the late 00’s fascination for blogging our personal interests has indirectly resulted in the “sharing” of self-uploaded data without the burden of research or credibility. Each writer’s word is received with the same degree of acceptance or skepticism, regardless of what measures were taken to draw the conclusions. What began twenty years ago as a postmodern embrace of subjectivity has mutated into an intolerance and resentment of opposition.
We have not made the strongest argument for “democracy,” whatever that word represents to the poster of the minute. I’m sure our connotations differ, and that if I elaborated, someone would be offended.
As a Christian, this transition has led to the death of my writing. If my desire for basic understanding must compete with the bloggers’ proclivity to be provocative for the sake of clicks or comments, I fight a losing battle. Not only will I not be heard, I will likely be misunderstood and labeled based solely on the title of the article. My words may spring a rallying cry from the choir choosing to adopt me to make a greater point; likewise, this would serve their agenda and not my own.
Sadly, I know my faith has suffered through this hiatus. Writing was once a ministry to my spirit and a means by which God’s word could funnel through me, in spite of my brokenness. I could keep a journal to stomach the blow, but the corporate interaction to my words challenged and refined me. Without them, I am as rogue and unaccountable as the friends that bully my feed with unsubstantiated claims. I miss my writing community and am saddened that the forum has been breached.
Only one “voice” can still be heard amidst the cacophony: the word of experience. I dare not attempt to engage the reader with logic or emotional appeal, as both give birth to offense: the worst of all 21st century sins. One only has to discredit the source to “disprove” logic (and every source is discredited in this age); emotional appeal will ramp up an irrational argument of “I know you are, but what am I.” One value still holds true in this culture — you can’t tell me how I should feel or what I’ve endured.
An unexpected positive from the age of victimization, the word of experience offers an unprecedented opportunity to share our stories. As followers of Christ, our testimonies hold greater weight in defending our faith and love for God than any apologetic source ever could. Thankfully, this has been Christ’s design from the beginning. We cannot speak of someone that we have not known, nor can we introduce a person that is not present. For the churchgoers who have spent lifetimes defending their rights and freedoms as Christian Americans, there is nothing of note to be shared. If our energy is focused on maintaining our current status of existence, we cannot afford to mess it up through experience with the supernatural.
However, for those that know God, our lives are the manifest witness of His work on this earth. It can’t get more cut and dry — either our lives bear testimony of His holiness or they don’t. We know well enough what a normal life looks like, and despite our humanistic efforts to better people, we’ve all been hurt well enough to know its futility. But it doesn’t require a provocative story to draw others into His truth if the daily word of experience exists among the common.
One caveat: the word has to belong to the author. We cannot adequately share the word of experience vicariously through the acts of our friends, family, ministry, or pastor. Sharing what God has done outside of your own life is worthless. If you haven’t a testimony of God in your life, it may be a good indicator that God hasn’t been allowed into it. And this is the sort of logic that could get me in trouble…
I’ll have more in a few days.