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Viewpoint from Revd David Wells 21/08/2020

David WellsRevd David Wells
Rector of Caister-on-Sea

 

In recent months our churches in Caister, have been worshipping in new ways.  While we were in lockdown we began streaming services live on Facebook (facebook.com/HTCaister) and even though our churches are now open again, we still stream our Sunday service.  In many ways this has been a blessing - we have been able to welcome new worshippers from such far-flung places as Biggleswade, Croydon, and even the USA.  On Facebook we are now accessible to the housebound and those who might want to sample  worship without having to turn up at church.  Our most popular services have attracted more than a thousand views, and the number of followers for our Facebook page is several times greater than the size of our usual congregation

 
dove leftAll of which sounds like good news for our church.  But I have a worry  about  all this.   Should I be encouraging my flock to use social media when there is such a dark and dangerous side to it?  Hopefully the message we share on Sunday morning is positive and encouraging - but there is a lot else out there that is  designed to appeal to the worst of human nature, promoting prejudice, anger, and suspicion and spreading lies and disinformation.  Some of the divisive material is locally generated: we have had community conflicts in Caister recently that have undoubtedly been made worse by the insults traded on Facebook.  Some of the worst stuff is promoted from places far away - there are foreign powers who seek to use “active measures” to weaken other societies by encouraging conflict, and we know they use Facebook and other platforms to do this.  Social media is affecting our culture and our politics in many damaging ways - creating a “clickbait” world in which it no longer matters what is true, only what is attention-grabbing
 
Dove rightFor Christians, there is something holy about the truth - Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth and the life”, and there is something demonic about lying - Jesus called the devil “the father of lies”.  So Christian churches should be at the forefront of naming the dangers of social media - but how can we do that when we have embraced their use so enthusiastically?  Perhaps it is time for the churches to find or create an ethical, truthful alternative to Twitter, Facebook and the rest

also published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury

 

 

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