As I prepared to be ordained recently, my mind kept returning to the people in my life who might be perplexed by this decision. I have friends and colleagues who wonder, quite justly, what the church has to offer that one cannot find elsewhere. I thought about how I might describe what pulls me toward ministry and the church in particular.
In her new novel, Doris Lessing gives a fresh twist to an old idea: What would our world seem like to an alien who found himself among us, and how would we react to such a being? But Ben Lovat is not a creature from another planet; he is from our own distant past--a throwback to a species near the beginning of human evolution.
All the lonely people, where do they all come from? That question from “Eleanor Rigby” might serve as the epigraph for the works of Douglas Coupland. Coupland is the Canadian writer who burst on the scene in 1991 with Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, thereby coining the term for his generation.
Could loneliness be as contagious as the H1N1 virus? Is loneliness dangerous to the public’s health? Usually we think of “infection” or “contagion” only in relation to medical viruses and define lonely people as those who keep their feelings to themselves.
With one child in college and two teenagers at home, I learned vicariously about “being friended” and “facebooking.” My kids didn’t want me to join Facebook, but relented when I told them that our seminary students were forming groups on Facebook and inviting me to participate. I entered a new universe.