St Timothy, Pastor and Confessor

I still get confused by social media in particular but by a lot of communication these days and my thinking is when I see a post or a tweet or Facebook – who is speaking? Is it the person personally or if they hold a position or an office, is it the position or office? In the old days of letters – the written kind – you could look at the letterhead for an indication. Today we look to the ‘handle’ of the social media account for a clue. Where it is a personal name I have some-times seen subtitles to the effect ‘These words are my own personal view’. Organisations, from conglomerations to governments, are sensitive about what is said in their name – and we can well understand that. And yet too much control or censorship isn’t desirable either and whistle-blowers are necessary at times. Neverthe-
less cults of personalities exist precisely because of a blurring between personal and public. Does any of this ‘who is speaking?’ matter anymore in a world where people have a platform to speak and share things as
never before?

I think it does matter but I’m still trying to work out where the demarcation between personal and public lies today. Words are important. They are critical to communication. But we also need to know, I think, who is behind those words. Who is speaking? Or writing, tweeting, posting, uploading?

If I were to post on social media labelled ‘George Samiec’ how would you read it? If I were to post under the label ‘Ascension Lutheran’ how would you read it? Should it affect what I post? Would it affect how you reacted? What do you think? You are reading what I call a ‘bulletin blurb’ that has my initials at the bottom but in a bulletin labelled ‘Ascension Lutheran Church’.

To whom are you listening? I think it is important to hear clearly. I am a father. If I were to speak as father – and is not all my speech as a father? – how does the world hear it? How would you hear it? From a distance, I would hope, assessing what I say as you would any views said but not in the way that only five people on this planet might hear them. I might say the words ‘I love you’. Everyone at Ascension has heard me say those words! Many times! How have you heard them? Well, it depends on which me was speaking – citizen, neighbour, pastor, father, husband. If I was a cult leader,
how might those three words be heard? Hearing involves words and the identity of the speaker and when I say identity I don’t mean their personal name but their relationship to you. Yes, welcome to the third section of Luther’s Small Catechism labelled ‘Table of Duties’. This section speaks to the disciples of Jesus about how they live – and speak – Monday to Saturday so to speak – in the real world – in your actual world. This section reminds us of the relation ships we are in – really, the ones God has placed us in – the ones Jesus has calls us to follow him in – and since relationships govern behaviour, so today we realise that they govern our speech. This means, I think, and I’m still thinking about this part, that part of communication is knowing who we are when we speak, why we are speaking, what is the relationship we have with those who hear us, and making that clear. And no matter the relationships we have in this world, the one relationship that gives us our ‘core’ identity is Jesus who calls us by our own name and says ‘you are mine’. That’s also got to impact what we say and hear. What do you think? GS