Jan 04

God is with us!

We have been immersed in the sights and sounds and smells and tastes of a holy time when we, once again, ponder the wonders of a God who loves us so much that:

he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  –John 3:16

Our response to this great love is conversion, the continual turning away from self-centeredness, and turning toward the life of other-centeredness that Jesus taught us. This is as true as ever in our age of high technology and social media.

The Ten Commandments help us do that. (see Deuteronomy, Chapter 5, at http://www.usccb.org/bible/dt/5:22) They were given to the Israelites in the midst of their desert journey, where God was doing everything possible to save them and convince them how much he loves them. The Ten Commandments provide some concrete direction in entering into that love relationship. It is significant that some of the commandments refer to a right relationship with God, while the others guide us in our relationship with our neighbors. Clearly God not only loves us, but wants us to share that love with each other.

On this Tenth Day of Christmas, it may be helpful to revisit the Ten Commandments through the lens of new developments and technologies. For example, the USCCB has a resource entitled “Ten Commandments for Drivers.” The description reads, “Those who know Jesus Christ are vigilant on the roads. They don’t only think about themselves, and are not always worried about getting to their destination in a great hurry. They see everyone as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God. This is the attitude that characterizes a Christian driver.”

Christmas is a time to see everyone as brothers and sisters again, and God as the loving God of us all. It can be a time, especially if we received new electronic gifts, to review our use of computer/mobile technology through the eyes of a people in communion with God. I offer the following to help us reflect on ways that will characterize us as Christian technology users:

Ten Tech Commandments

  1. Thou shall know that God is present everywhere, even online.
  2. Thou shall use technology to proclaim the Reign of God.
  3. Thou shall pray in your heart, “Oh My God” with love and sincerity whenever you see “OMG”.
  4. Thou shall bookmark a Gospel, or perhaps set www.usccb.org/bible/readings as your home page, and regularly read a passage slowly, deeply, and with reflection.
  5. Thou shall involve spouses and/or parents in online activities like social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
  6. Thou shall show respect for others in all online comments.
  7. Thou shall not make up online identities, for God loves YOU.
  8. Thou shall not bully.
  9. Thou shall not look at inappropriate images, but instead spend time consuming media that draws you closer to God.
  10. Thou shall not hack or spam; nor enable others to do so by responding to online messages/email from strangers or using weak passwords.

As I formulated the ‘Tech Ten’, I couldn’t help but think, “Gee, if we but loved God and each other, these would naturally happen. As much as the specifics help give some direction, I really appreciate Jesus’ wisdom when he reminded us to simply but deeply, “…love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (http://www.usccb.org/bible/matthew/22/).”

I wonder what our faith formation students and Catholic school learners would write if we asked them to offer their own “Ten Commandments for Christian Technology Users.” Or maybe we can ask them to come up with “Beatitudes before Booting Up” as they ponder the Christmas Story.

Tim Welch is the Consultant for Educational Technology at Catholic Education Ministries, Diocese of Saint Cloud, MN. With more that 35 years of experience at the parish and diocesan levels, he is continually searching for ways of journeying with others to implement proven technologies that can serve ministry (especially catechesis).

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