As this post is published I will be sat in an exam on Philosophy and the Christian Tradition. This exam will mark the end of my degree, which I have been participating in since arriving in Durham. I think its important that the last thing I do towards the certificate that has shaped my formation is one that I feel so un-prepared for. It is slightly ironic that the content of this exam is how Graeco-Roman philosophy has interacted with Christian Tradition and vice versa. At the heart of Platonic philosophical tradition, you see, is the belief that a philosopher must always remember he is poor in wisdom but yet wise if he acknowledges his lack; he must be, as Socrates was, a ‘dangerous hunter’ for wisdom (see The Symposium)
This belief, or acknowledgement, is deep within the Judaeo- Christian tradition as well. Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Pauline and Johannine literature and many other examples suggest that as fallible human beings we never reach the thing we desire most, God/wisdom/Love, etc. We are considered wise if we align ourselves towards such perfection; we are always travelling never arriving. A perpetual pilgrim, if you like!
So first thing to say is: please pray for me as I sit my exam! Pray for wisdom and peace, and for a turning of my mind towards God. Evagrius’ statement is true, ‘A theologian is one who prays. He who prays is a theologian.’ So pray that I’ll pray!
The second thing I want to say concerns my reflections on social media and my interactions with it over the past month or so.
It has struck me as I sit down, amidst revision, moving, finishing off dissertation, etc., how little I’ve tweeted or blogged. My tweets have moved from personal tweets to re-tweets and slight interactions with others. I haven’t blogged for four months! It seems that life has taken me into a place where the immediate is prior to the connections ‘on-line’.
It is no secret that I’m uncomfortable with the overuse of social media; the escapist use of it. I, like most I suppose, want to emphasise again and again that it is a tool to be used to enhance reality not replace it. I want reality to impact me and change me rather than for me to take on some personal management of my identity through Facebook, Twitter and blogs. It is no surprise then, that at a time of great formation and emotional investment and divestment I would stop actively stating an identity when it is, at this point in flux. (Does that make sense?)
I think it has been important for me to retreat from this necessarily self-driven existence on-line to ensure that it remains merely a tool of communication and not an identity shaping device. This is particularly pertinent when one is going through big changes in one’s life. It is uncomfortable to change and every bit of us wants to keep in control, to state we know what and who we are, but the truth is the strength at such times is found in acknowledging our poverty.
When you read next month’s post I will be heading off for my pre-ordination retreat; another massive identity shaping activity. How does one, going through such life changing activities in ‘real life’ communicate and express that online at the same time? Is there a way of being both poor in self-knowledge whilst needing to express oneself online in order to interact. When all the receivers of your information see is self-expressed how can they see beyond at the change that is naturally going on within you? Is our online persona a false actualisation when we are, in fact, necessarily potential (always becoming never become)? Most of those questions are overly philosophical which reminds me… I should revise for an exam!