“bots,” “preppers,” and breaking the cycle
Thoughts on the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 12, 2017
by Rev. Jim Ryan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fatalism creeps all ‘round us these days. And by fatalism I’m using the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition that says it means “the belief or attitude that events are fixed in advance and humans are powerless to change them.”
Too often we seem to be tricking ourselves into a surface notion that we are in charge while reality heads into a trainwreck. Complicate this with a conviction of inevitability that, no matter what, things will get worse.
How else are we to feel? Last Sunday people went to church in Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church and they were murdered in their pews. Less than two months ago people went to an outdoor concert in Las Vegas where 58 were killed and hundreds more wounded. In between those two slaughters almost 1000 people were killed by gun violence in this country.
Fatalistic inevitability is the stage 4 cancer of this society. It is fed by social media that is corrupted at the level of the software codes and algorithms that take over in nanoseconds. It is furthered by the me-first attitude of those who actually believe that they can survive all this if they just stay isolated enough within underground bunkers or private islands in the ocean.
What a world, right?
On the technology side of this we have all become more educated on, and aware of, “bots.” Do you know the term? The more sordid of them are pieces of software code that are designed to live and attack in the various worlds of cyberspace. They suck out truth and replace it with a corruption that becomes new truth. A bot seems to be an entity that is equipped with a purpose that impacts minds with a plan to change actions in service to a larger goal. Kind of like what we used to call the action of the Hand of God. Now, the secular version is to create a fatalistic belief that you can’t believe anything. How blessed are we that today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom was written before bots could get a hold of it.
In society this fatalism shows itself in the “Prepper” movement. Are you familiar with preppers? At the extreme they are people who are prepared to survive nuclear war and annihilation (which seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?). Apparently the term survivalist is a little too off-putting. So Preppers have adopted the softer-gentler version of calculating the length of nuclear winter.
What to do about the fatalistic inevitability that has creeped into our lives? The bots that appear to procreate in limitless fashion are leeches on our dependency for reliable truth. Preppers live out an isolationist viewpoint to the point that they accept the destruction of everything else but themselves. That seems a little narcissistic, but that may only be me.
To be rid of fatalism – we must break the cycle! Surely, a piece of code with all its variations and attacks – having been produced by humans – can be superceded by humans. And this notion of me-first, while fashionable in some segments of American politics and society, can just as surely be halted in its tracks.
Break the cycle – What does that look like in terms of today’s scripture readings? The line that follows today’s first reading on Wisdom is:
“The true meaning of Wisdom is the desire to learn, and to be passionate about learning is to love Her.”
Break the cycle with love for Wisdom. Abandon the strategies of manipulation and of isolation.
Break the cycle by preparing and being ready to celebrate with others at the bridal party – not calculating how much oil it takes to survive nuclear winter.
We seek your Wisdom, Holy One, when we dignify ourselves as your creation.
We care for the earth when we stop its destruction.
We assure our children’s future when we store up resources for them.
We prepare for your coming when we break the cycles of war,
violence, greed, and all sin.
Let our worship here fill us with the desire to search for her, your Wisdom, almighty and all loving God, now and forever. Amen,