March 27, 2013 by Alex Johannigman
After thinking about the idea for months and months, I’m finally starting a blog that I can use to share my ideas and start discussions between people of all different beliefs. I think as I’m starting, it’s important to reflect on my goals for this blog and maybe get a little philosophical in the process.
The medium of the internet carries with it a number of strengths and weaknesses. On the bright side, it allows us to reach more people than is possible through only face to face interactions. However, that can also lead to a type of detachment from others, as we are unable to truly know a person when all we see of them is the text that they’ve written, and, if we’re lucky, a nice picture of them on their blog or comment in the combox. This is a handicap that I think many, many people in my generation (the Millenials as people like to call us) don’t truly understand. Using only blog posts, facebook statuses, text messages, and tweets to stay in contact with others creates a false sense of intimacy. We feel like we know another person really well, but have skipped any sense of self-gift between the two people in the relationship.
I’ve had this experience with a number of college friends since graduation. There have been moments where I’ve encountered an old friend who I haven’t talked to in a while, and then they ask about something I did recently, definitely since the last time we’ve chatted in person or otherwise. I get confused for a minute wondering how they knew about my recent activities until they remind me that I posted about it on Facebook last week. It throws me off because their knowledge of my life suggests a level of intimacy that in reality doesn’t exist.
So this was a concern while creating a blog that I hope will spread beyond just the people that I know. After all, the gospel is spread best through relationships. But relying purely on face to face relationships limits God’s ability to water the seeds that we plant.
I’m a big fan of musicals, beyond what is probably considered normal for a person of my gender and age. My favorite show of all time is and probably forever shall be “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo. If you’ve never seen it, maybe this can convince you that it’s worth your time.
The story revolves around Jean Valjean, a convict who is imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister’s family. He is released and immediately goes on to steal silver in the middle of the night from Bishop Myriel after the bishop allows him to spend the evening with him. Valjean is immediately apprehended and brought to the bishop along with the stolen goods. Rather than condemn Valjean, the bishop claims that he gave Valjean the silver, but that Valjean had left the best behind and gives him even more wealth than Valjean had already stolen.
In the musical adaptation, Myriel’s words are
“But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!”
Then Valjean leaves and the bishop never sees or hears from him again.
End of story? Far from it. Valjean goes on to raise the daughter of a dying woman, save the life of the man whom she loves, and forgive a ruthless man who has devoted his entire life to hunting Valjean down.
Yet the bishop has no idea that any of this ever happens. But the incredible thing is that it didn’t stop him from loving and trusting Valjean. It didn’t stop him from believing that he had planted a seed that God may someday use to work miracles.
I pray that God can give me the perseverance to love like Bishop Myriel does. Not only to remain dedicated to this blog, but also to love others in my daily life, through the souls that I do encounter face to face. I pray that you may find opportunities to do the same.