Monday, March 22, 2010

Did talking about the sermon make you happy?

According to a recent New York Times article, a study suggested that those who regularly took part in deep, thoughtful, and existential conversations were, by both internal and external observation, happier.

Considering that I am thinking a lot about church, the internet, and the church and internet, this article provides an interesting challenge. Do we in fact have these kinds of deeply connecting conversations on the internet? Does the internet give us the opportunity to meet more people that we can have these kinds of conversations? Does its openness make people hesitant and uneasy with “putting themselves out there” and being in these kinds of deep conversation for the whole world to see?

And then the second question became, do we have these conversations in the church? Does coffee hour, bible study, or the sermon give us not only a sense of community, but a place of illuminating conversations where we can enter into meaningful theological discussions that leave each other enlightened and enriched? At the heart of Christianity are stories about God and Jesus and the ways in which meaning erupted into the world. Does our church give us the opportunity to meet people that we can have these kinds of deep, meaningful eruptions and the language with which to be able to talk about them? Does the church provide safe-places to be able to enter into these kinds of conversations?

For me, deep conversations are about finding meaning with another person. They are important, blessed events. Therefore it is a challenge to both the church medium and the internet medium that in order to provide happiness, they need to provide ways for people to dive into deep, careful, thoughtful conversation. And it is a challenge to suggest that we need to think of new radical ways that these mediums can be happiness-inducing by supporting voices and making opportunity for difficult, but ultimately meaningful conversations.

1 comment:

Evan said...

When I attended the Unitarian Universalist church, there was a coffee thing after the service for people to mingle and digest the sermon, and while most people just made small talk and caught up on the week's events, there were a few deep conversations to be had if you knew where to find them. Contrast this with the weekly evening classes offered by the church which were set up to encourage discussion on various topics and ended up being the longest 90 minutes of my week. These sorts of things can only get people to open up if they develop organically, if a person is actually finding and sharing meaning with another person. The internet might be able to facilitate this, seeing how easily a person can share their views, but it also lacks a real connection. Also, I've never been called a commie faggot nigger cunt in person, but just scroll through a Youtube comment war and it's surprisingly common. Even on tame religious videos. Especially on tame religious videos.