April 21st, 2019
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!
It’s Easter, which means I’ve just had a wonderful weekend of joyous celebration. In church and in friends I am richly blessed. That it is Easter also means Lent is over; I’m back on Twitter. So, before the 50 days of Eastertide cause the fast to fade like a dream, I’d like to try to reflect very briefly on what I may or may not have learned from logging off.
The whole reason I did this was as an exercise in following the church calendar, and what the church calendar does is mark a cosmic time and cosmic story that is ever present and ever repeating. If giving up Twitter is not situated in the context of this cosmic narrative, there’s nothing to have learned from giving up Twitter beyond confirming that the site is the frenetic and antagonistic place we all know it to be. I don’t care if I’m pretty sure therapeutically it’s often better to not be on the site—that not being on it lets me use my time better with less distraction or stress about things that aren’t relevant to me—or even, positively, that being on it gives me access to people and ideas I wouldn’t have otherwise, for which I’m grateful. I already knew that. I knew it before doing this. So, whatever’s here to learn is found in keeping in mind this framing: the relationship between Twitter and a church calendar that makes the eternal accessible to temporal creatures.
Twitter is about access and temporality, too. It has a timeline. It’s supposed to mark the moments and the days. Its appeal is found in its organization of the random and perpetual noise of information and opinion that makes up the meeting of real life and online into character-limited chunks you can consume, and maybe even digest, or at least believe yourself to have digested, whether to your profit or entertainment. It’s not a very efficient means to this end but it’s one of the ones we all have access to, and many use, so it’s one of the workable ones. Its danger, then, is found in its smallness, in its immediacy. Twitter cuts time into units that are too small to represent much beyond instinct, habit, and emotion. It is the ugly co-op garden of gut reactions; we are all growing it.
If Twitter’s a kind of calendar, then the church calendar, giving Twitter up for Lent in participation in the liturgical year, is about relativizing its account of time, reminding me that the moment to moment flow of time and thought and emotion and personality all plays out before a cosmic backdrop of eternal import. Whether in the wilderness with Christ in Lent or celebrating his resurrection and present reign as King of the Universe in Easter, I need to remember that it is that story that is really real, that it is the reality that will make sense of the senseless and the chaos. Twitter is fun, sometimes even useful. But it oriented to a temporal horizon too small to not be continuously identified and integrated into a bigger vision of the span of time. Good thing I have one of those.
I’m happy I’m back on Twitter. I missed seeing what certain people thought of whatever the topic of the hour was. I missed learning from them or laughing with them. But I hope I’ll use it, and that you’ll join me in this, in a way that acknowledges as often as I can the relationship of the moment to the eternal now of the divine throne room, where living creatures forever cry holy, holy, holy.