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For Young People: Theology Of Facebook
By IBIYEMI VICTOR WALE
Last updated: 07/05/2011
In recent times, a new wave of insight about the nature of humanity has taken the centre stage of intellectual and scientific discourse. Ever since the first photographs of our world were beamed back to the Earth from outer space, many people agreed that a new era in human history dawned, and for the first time we could see planet Earth, extraordinarily beautiful in its vibrant colours, yet hanging isolated in a massive unending sea of black universe.
From that esteemed moment, humanity saw the truth of what it was, what it is and what it will continue to be: ‘one robust but fragile community; inextricably bound together, and unalterably responsible for the future of ourselves and the planet.”
By the fiat of that great event, humanity was compelled by truth to abandon the narrow perspectives of its thinking and action in warm embrace of the ideal that we are all members of one global human family.
This is the reason why Teilhard De Chardin would say that “Each element of the cosmos is positively woven from all of the others.
The universe holds together, and only one way of considering it is really possible that is, to take it as a whole, in one piece.” We live in a global planet and we are a cosmopolitan people. Whatever affects life (positively or negatively) in one little village of the world has repercussions for the entire globe. After all, we are said to live in global village, or more restrictedly, one global hamlet where the forces of scientific and technological change have made the transfer of information and communication a matter of the swift dynamic of split seconds. These great leaps in human civilization cannot but astound us.
As such, the idea that we are condemned to be global neighbours has become a common patrimony for all human beings. As the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy echoes the General Catechetical Directory of 1971, “one must…bear in mind the enormous diffusion of the means of social communication. Their power transcends national boundaries, making the individual almost a citizen of the world. The media have enormous influence on the lives of the faithful, both in what they teach and in the attitudes and behaviour to which they expose the faithful.”
Facebook is a relatively recent global phenomenon in the world of modern digital Information and Communication Technology and young people are often always interested in what is trendy, fashionable or in vogue. We can therefore understand why Facebook captures the attention even of the most disinterested young person. Beyond the fashionable nature of Facebook, we must truly admit that there are countless benefits it offers.
This means that social utilities that connect people around the world should be welcomed as a noble gift to humanity, an expression of the wisdom, ingenuity, intelligence, inventive skill and creative vision with which the human person has been endowed by God. Man’s genius has with God’s help produced marvellous technical inventions, especially in our times.
Launched in February 2004 having been invented by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskov and Chris Hughes, all students of Harvard University, originally. The website was limited to students of Harvard but was later expanded to colleges within the Boston axis. Further expansion included all university and high school students in America until it was finally permitted to anyone from 13 years and above across the world.
The predecessor to Facebook was ‘facemash’ which Zuckerberg invented in 2003 while a second year student at Harvard. In Facebook, users add people as friends and send them messages, update their personal profiles, notify friends about themselves, chat with friends, and can join networks or fan clubs organized by schools, workplaces, institutions or friends.
The websites name stems from the colloquial name of books given to students at the start of the academic year by university administrations in the US with the intention of helping students to get to know each other better.
The immediate question that arises here stems from the nature of our topic: What is the connection between Facebook and theology? Can we speak of a theology of Facebook in a specifically Christian context? This quest would echo naively in the uncircumcised ears of an average religious person or a new student of theology. However, looking introspectively, there seems to be the possibility of a theology of Facebook. What then is the link between theology and the sociality of Facebook?
This is the quandary a typical religious mind would cogitate faced with the quest of justifying a nexus between theology and Facebook.
In this kind of atmosphere the question of what theology actually is naturally surfaces too. Pope Benedict XVI raises the same question when he asks: ‘What in fact is Theology?” Has it been described adequately when it is said to be a methodically ordered reflection on the questions of religion or men’s relationship with God? No, for that takes us not a step over religious studies.
Theology does not revel on the unresolved mysteries of man, for philosophy of religion and religious studies have that to contend with. According to the Pope, the path of theology is indicated in the cliché of St. Anselm: credo intelligam (“I believe that I may understand’) which indicates an acceptance of what is given in advance.
Anthony Akinwale in his paper On What is Theology asserts that theology is ideally “a speech about God” slightly adjacent to the literal etymological roots that theology is the science of God. This speech about God is what Pope Benedict XVI explains as the advantage of what is given in advance.
Hence, they both established the claim that the Word is the ultimate basis of theology; something that can never be Continue reading