Internet as Palantir
The internet can be something you look into, and as you feel something looking back, it calls to you. It can draw you into incredible folly and destruction. And unless you master it, it will.
No less than Denethor and Saruman thought they could master the palantir. They were enticed by its promises of power, escape, and insight. But in the end, they were overpowered by the dark lord.
Pippin, an unsuspecting hobbit, was drawn to it. It's call captured him. His attention was drawn, and he did not master it. It left him damaged, almost irreparably.
Aragorn and Gandalf were maximally cautious. They respected its power. Finally Aragorn, when the time was right, and when he had the strength, bent it to his will.
The internet is our palantir, capable of showing us images of anything the world over.
But that which is most powerful, most loathsome, most awesome, most fearful, most attention-grabbing will capture our gaze. We have no choice but to be drawn to it. We look at the most terrible and glorious.
Terror, lust, greed, envy, disgust, fascination, intrigue, idleness, and desire find their fulfillment in that which coalesces into the maximally satisfactory outlet of these dark impulses.
And as we look and look and look, we find that something is looking back at us. It speaks to us in whispers. It comforts, cajoles, coerces, castrates, kills.
To varying degrees various entities have used its power to attain their ends. One becomes president. Another becomes a hit. Still another, the richest alive.
And the rest of us climb our various hierarchies with varying success.
We might increase our earning potential, meet a lover, make a friend, learn a skill, explore new ways of thinking.
But always, always, always there is the draw toward that which satisfies our innermost desires. "6 things successful people do to be successful at the thing you're trying to be successful at."
There is no mere impartial, altruistic force behind the internet.
Love of money drives much.
You can't go into it under the pretense that you'll be able to work out your own desires and ambitions. No, it will try to shape your desires and ambitions.
"Have you seen what these other people have? What they are? You could have that, too. You could be like that, too." It continually whispers.
And while I paint the internet in this palantir-ish gloom, nothing is so black and white.
Master it, and you demonstrate yourself a worthy ruler of this world.
Fall under its sway, and you will fall - into madness, folly, and death itself.
How to master it, then?
SpiritWithout the Spirit, there is nothing. Jesus said it very clearly: apart from me, you can do nothing. He is His Spirit. His Spirit is how He is active and moving and working in His body today.
His Spirit is like the breath of God that blows to fill up a body with energy, animation, movement, and power.
No Spirit, no life.
ScripturesThe Scriptures are breathed out by God. When a person speaks, breath comes out. God spoke and breathed out the Scriptures.
The most Spirit-empowered people in history were Jesus and Paul. They were also undeniably inScripturated.
There's no inSpiration without inScripturation.
SaintsSaints are not singular. Saints are connected one to another. Saints are living. God is the God of the living. We are connected to saints who sleep and those who are currently awake. This connection is the body of Christ. We are the household of God. We are the pillar of truth. We are the vineyard of Christ. We are the temple of God. We are the twelve tribes.
Greater knowing and loving and being known and loved by the saints will strengthen and enliven beyond measure.
Knowing the history of the saints will provide insight, grounding, and connection to past, present, and future. Paul was motivated by the generations of offspring he would be responsible for sowing.
StoryThere is a grand narrative going on all around us. We can find ourselves in that story, and see how the Storyteller is weaving our story into the story.
Story gives us meaning, purpose, aim, wisdom, hope, connection, and more. We can make sense of the plot when we've seen it played out before. We can put things in their proper place, sensing intuitively the import of various actors and objects.
SymbolismBeing comfortable with imagery, metaphor, and symbols will just make the truth so much more vibrant, vivid, and relatable. It will push it down deep and also make it easier to communicate.
The Bible is an undeniably richly symbolic text. Heaven and earth. Temple. Body. Just endless resplendently interconnected meaning that can all be expressed simultaneously in multilayered, hyperlinked, manifold symbols.
SacramentsSacraments are how we enter into the symbolism, history, connections, etc. By performing the rituals, we actually participate bodily in the Spirit, Scriptures, saints, story, and symbols. We act out, and in the performance, we find harmony in body and spirit.
SowingSowing is the doing part. Acting is synonymous with believing. There are actions we can take. We are not left bereft of meaningful steps. Seek and you will find. Ask and you will receive. Knock and the door will be opened to you.
Action indicates belief. It indicates humility. It indicates submission. Loving God with heart is not enough. We must love with our strength. Believing in our heart is not enough. We must present the members of our bodies as living sacrifices.
How do you know when you are seeking, asking, knocking? You'll see yourself casting about for that which you seek. You'll hear your voice in inquiring prayer. You'll feel your hand upon the door.
It's not complicated. But it's also not easy. It requires the subjugation of the willful, autonomous, self-centered heart to the God of the universe.
It's not in your nature. But it is in God's nature. Seek the joy in Him. Seek the love in Him. Seek the peace in Him. Seek the truth in Him. Seek the hope in Him. Seek honor, glory, and immortality in Him. Seek every good gift in Him.
And in sowing to the Spirit, you will of the Spirit reap eternal life.
ConclusionYou might notice these things are not particularly specific to the internet. These are fundamental for life. It just so happens that the internet is where we live life.
It's the marketplace, the town square, the theatre, the back alley, the town hall, etc. When we could go west no longer, we went to the worldwide web. We founded city after city, and meta-cities called states, and meta-states called nations. And as we founded, we traversed west, west, west, until from the west coast, the westernmost of the West, we fashioned a new city, the Web.
And this new city, this new world, is now everywhere the internet is. We are all finding our place in this new world. Some of us will continue holding on to the way things have been. Some of us will go off seeking glory and riches. Some of us will malevolently destroy. Others will benevolently restore. All of us will make many mistakes. We will contribute through our actions or inaction to chaos, suffering, and pain. And we must find a way to live in peace, find grace, get redemption and recompense.
We are explorers, discoverers, founders, adventurers, missionaries, mercenaries, trappers, hunters, pillagers, plunderers, pirates, and more.
And as we explore this new digital terrain, we are in need of the very same things generations before needed to make sense, to find meaning, to rule well, to give life: