Friday, February 3, 2012

What's Trending Now

To begin with the obvious: trends change.

Yesteryear's groovy becomes yesterday's cool becomes tight becomes right-on becomes...?

Trends always change: after all, that's what the phenomenon names.  Like "waves" have to fall.  If they didn't, we'd call them ponds instead.  Change is what trends do.  What remains increasingly hard to wrap the old head around is how social media took the word that meant "the very latest" - and with it our begrudging acceptance of change - and "verbed" it.  "Trending" is what happens when the very latest won't sit still.

Trending is why false reports of Eddie Murphy's death less than an hour ago are "yesterday's news."  Trending is why this commercial doesn't just make us laugh; it makes us want a faster phone. 
You know, so we can keep up.

When I was in high school the only thing worse than not catching a trend was holding on to a trend too long.  Yeah, not gonna be THAT kid.  Only I was.  We all were.  So the words most guaranteed to grab the full attention of the group were always breathlessly delivered along these lines: "Haven't you heard...?  What?  You mean you didn't you KNOW?"

We'd wait, bug-eyed, with rapt attention, in total silence, to learn just what we had missed.
Trend-setting across the 1990s.  

You can imagine my discomfort, then, when I experienced an unexpected jolt of adolescent-angst as I looked ahead at this Sunday's lessons.  Isaiah's reading, beginning: "Have you not seen?  Have you not heard?"  What!?  Tell me!  Please, please say that my dark wash jeans can stay!

I collected myself.  And thought ahead to the gospel: Mark's gospel wherein countless people know Jesus, but not who he is.  Not that he's brought in a new Kingdom.  Not that all the old rules are about to be trended.  That everything is changed.  Not just for Israel but for the dated ways of the world.

Enemies, for example: killing is out and forgiving is in.  Money, too, isn't safe: the clenched fist is out, the open palm is in style.  Neighbors: used to be tolerated, now to be celebrated.  Even God and how we thought we got to God is turned on its head: 0ut is the dream of controlling God by my actions; in is the impossible truth that God comes as free gift.

This past week I came across this quote in my morning prayers - it comes from the apocryphal writing knows as the Acts of Peter:

"Unless you make what is right left, and what is left right, what is above into what is below, and what is behind into what is in front, you will not learn to know the Kingdom."

I find myself not able to remind myself often enough that the Kingdom of God is not just an invitation - it's an announcement; it's announcing the truth about ourselves and the world in light of the God who delivered Israel from slavery and raised Jesus from the dead.  Given this truth, somethings about myself no longer make sense - like parachute pants after MC Hammer.  The Kingdom is here; I want to learn the style of the Kingdom.  I want to wear the freedom to serve, to love without fear.

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