Thoughts on leaving Facebook

I have wanted to leave Facebook for a while, and I did at one point, only to come back after a short time because it was the best way for me to keep up with family and friends. My objective at the time had nothing to do with national politics, but I objected to how Facebook manipulated the content I was trying to access and fed my data to advertisers. I often got frustrated with how their manipulation affected usability. I would see something on my news feed that looked interesting, but when I went back at a later time, I could not find it because Facebook had decided I should see different things now. I have played with the MeWe social media platform a little bit. Rather than being advertisement based, they are subscription based, and using it has been a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel like I’m wrestling with an algorithm to get to my content. The material I subscribe to is presented in a straight-forward chronological manner that is the same every time I go back to it. Also, there are no creepy ads that appear to be reading my mind because it is subscription based rather than supported by ads. If I’m going to do social media at all, I would rather pay $5/month than deal with those ads and manipulations.

For a while, I preferred Twitter to Facebook because Twitter gave me a straightforward feed of the posts of everyone I was following, and advertisements were non-targeted. Sadly, they decided to follow Facebook’s lead. They now manipulate the feed and have increased advertising, making it more intrusive. At the same time, I saw much of the conversation there becoming more viscous and non-productive, and it was too much of a distraction, so I decided to drop it a few months ago.

The tipping point for me to finally and irrevocably leave Facebook was their censorship of the President of the United States. I always thought this was a danger with a huge, monolithic social network like Facebook, and for a while there have been accusations of their political bias, but this act was a blatant disregard for the importance of freedom of speech. I know that as a private company, Facebook is not required by law to protect speech, but as primary communications platforms, Twitter and Facebook greatly affect the direction of discourse in our country and in much of the rest of the world. By silencing particular points of view, they open the door to tyranny. World leaders in Australia, France, Germany, Russia, and Poland have spoken out against this act. The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is no conservative Trump fan, is mounting a campaign against social media bans. I believe this issue is bigger than whether or not you are a “Trump supporter.”

God’s response

I began a meditation on Psalm 2 in my last post, where we saw a rebellion against God by the powerful people of the world. Now I want to finish the psalm by looking at God’s response.

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “I have set my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

Psalm 2:4-6 (RSV2CE)

We can get so worried when we see powerful people changing institutions and trying to erase our Christian heritage so that they can achieve what they think is freedom from accountability to God. As we can see here, God is not worried, and his answer is that he has established a king.

At the time this psalm was written, the king was David or one of his descendants reigning over God’s chosen people in Jerusalem, but Christians from the beginning of the faith saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this psalm, especially because of this next part.

I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Psalm 2:7-9 (RSV2CE)

Although we should vote and try to choose the best leaders for our government, that is not where our hope lies. The United States and all of the nations belong to Jesus Christ, and he will ultimately bring justice by destroying the forces of evil. This last part is what we need to be doing.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling rejoice, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:10-12 (RSV2CE)

Serve the Lord with your lives. Seek his wisdom in his Word. Do not be afraid of what you may hear in the news, but take refuge in the Lord and be blessed.

Why do the nations rage?

Many Christians are worried about the world today, and I believe a good answer to such worry is to pray using the Bible’s book of Psalms. This is something I first learned about 22 years ago, and it radically changed my prayer life. In the difficult year of 2020, I noticed several psalms to be especially relevant to the world situation, including Psalm 2.

In my favorite Bible translation, the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition (RSV2CE), Psalm 2 begins with, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?” This is likely a very accurate translation of the original Hebrew according to the latest scholarship, but I also want to point out how the traditional King James Version renders this verse: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” I’ve always been struck by the word “rage” in this version, and I think it’s a vivid description of what is going on now, so I used it in my title.

The next two verses tell us what is prompting this question.

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”

Psalm 2:2-3 (RSV2CE)

Although we don’t have many kings today, we can substitute any powerful people here, which brings us to a principle for praying with psalms. They were written thousands of years ago, so there are cultural details that were different back then, but we can translate them into similar details in our day. What we will find is that the basic human experience is the same. So when you pray the psalms, look for how you can translate them to your own personal situation.

So the meaning of these verses today could be that there are powerful and influential people today that want to rid the world of the influence of Christianity. We see this in politics, media, and education. Western civilization, which is another way of talking about the Christian heritage of Europe and the Americas, is being portrayed as an evil influence that must be eliminated. The European union has essentially removed Christianity from their governmental structures and puts pressure against expressions of Christianity in their member nations. In the United States, since the 1960s, there has been a steady push to remove Christian influence from public life, including the removal of prayer in schools, the display of the Ten Commandments in court houses, nativity scenes on public property, and even saying “Merry Christmas.”

Why do they want to get rid of Christianity? The words used in the psalm are very instructive. They want to burst bonds and cast off cords. They see Christianity as restricting them. They want to get rid of Christianity in the name of freedom. This is truly a mistake, as Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).

What is God’s response to this? I will cover that in my next post.

Welcome to Scriptorium 3

I have decided to start this blog using WordPress. I had a blog for many years on Blogger, but I decided that technology was outdated and created a new blog. However, being a software snob, I didn’t use the mainstream blogging software WordPress and then tried the Hugo blogging software for a while, which is very cool, but I found it too difficult to manage. That blog is here, but it may go away after a while, so some of that material may get rewritten here.

So, my hope is now that I’m using WordPress, I will write much more because there is a lot I want to write about. I believe there is a lot of irrational stuff being said these days, and although I don’t have all of the answers, I have a responsibility to at least share what I do know and believe.