Theology After Google: More Thoughts from Afar

All that Ken Silva talk distracted me so much I never really said anything about the TAG gathering itself.

(Though that tangent was hardly without value – it ultimately turned me into a bona fide emergent when Silva slammed me! Seriously, I’m not worthy. There are many more important emergent writers/thinkers/leaders who deserved this honor first! Though I’m sure I’ll just as quickly lose that newly earned title when I admit that Silva and I had a pleasant exchange and even came to an agreement. Ok, sure, it was an agreement to disagree agreeably, but that’s not nothing, right? We might not ever be friends but certainly we managed to be friendly. And I doubt I’ll ever again be able to think of him as merely a pompous, windbag, asshat. Turns out he’s an actual human being. Who knew?!)

At TAG ’10, fellow Illinoisan Kevin Bowman, tweeted this: “Bring the margin to the center. Make the margin farther away until the kingdom is realized in all places.”

I don’t know when in the conference this was said and I’m not sure if Kevin said this or if someone else at TAG said it and Kevin tweeted it. I apologize for the lack of proper credit and context. Still, I think that’s really good. “Bring the margin to the center” seems to me a beautiful way to describe what Jesus was about. He found those rejected by society, those taken advantage of, those left for dead, those dismissed as less than human, – those on the margins – and by word and deed (Luke 15:1-3 for instance, “This man is friendly with sinners. He even eats with them.”), told them they were not forgotten, told them they belonged to God no matter what other people might tell them.

The caution I hear in that quote though is to remember that when society gets reoriented so that those currently in the center, those in the seat of power, are booted to the margins…well, then suddenly God is on their side. Here I think of Peter Rollins’ fascinating parable project, The Orthodox Heretic: And Other Impossible Tales. Most especially do I think of this parable called God Joins the Army.

In other words, the point of the coming of the Kingdom of God is not simply to replace the current in-crowd with the current out-crowd and thereby perpetuate injustice, just with the players in inverted roles. No, God’s dream for the world is to be a place without margins; to be a place where all belong! This is our eschatological hope.

Can theology after google accomplish this? I don’t know. But I hope so, however unlikely that may be. At the very least, today’s announcement that the FCC plans to make high-speed internet access available to 90% of the U.S. by 2020 could help answer one of the best questions I heard at TAG (again, I don’t know who asked this or in response to what, sorry): What about people without access to technology? How will they be included?

7 thoughts on “Theology After Google: More Thoughts from Afar

  1. The question is whether or not social media actually do move the margins to the center. My sense is that in a very real way it does by breaking down the barriers that people have erected between the fragments of their lives and forcing more connection. The web is about connecting people. The more connections, the stronger the whole network.

    1. Hey Rocky,
      Thanks for engaging here.

      I agree with you, social media do break barriers and can bring the margins to the center.

      This is just my perception – it is is completely unscientific – but it seems to me that as social media have become more mainstream, people are being more themselves online. I just don’t see as many identity-obscuring handles as I did a few years ago.
      That might be totally wrong but if it is a trend, perhaps that is one way of bringing margins to center: allowing people to be honest about who they are.

  2. “I doubt I’ll ever again be able to think of him as merely a pompous, windbag, asshat. Turns out he’s an actual human being. Who knew?!”

    *wiping a tear from my eye*

    That’s so beautiful, you ol’ sweet-talking heretic, you. 😉

  3. “I appreciate that you have a sense of humor about all this.”

    It’s all in a day’s work and goes with the turf. And after-all, God has a sense of humor too; why, He created me with the perfect face…for radio. 🙂

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