Hosting The Brilliance: Tim Willard's 10 Things on "Internet Friends"

Welcome my "friend" Tim Willard, an upright fella who recently co-authored an upright book, Home Behind the Sun: Connect With God in the Brilliance of the Everyday. (Have you read this yet? GRAB A COPY!) Tim has made a habit of dropping creative "10 Things" posts in the last few months, and each one is good for a chuckle. I hope you enjoy today's piece, a piece which deals with "internet friends," and the "frumious bandersnatch." (Bonus points for those of you who are familiar with Lewis Carroll's fictional character.)

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Ten Things I Think About “Internet Friends”

 1. I Think Bandersnatches Are More Real Than Facebook Friends.

a. Just last evening I was walking across the Bifrost Bridge that spans the Great Sea of Shining Waters and there, floating on its back, sneered a Bandersnatch. Now, I’m no fool, I know better than to cross a Bandersnatch. So, I slowed my pace on the Bifrost Bridge so as not to annoy the Bandersnatch or incite it’s fierce disposition.

b. But my pussyfootedness failed me. The Bandersnatch growled a low hideous growl, flipped over on its rotund tummy and swam to shore. I entered into a full sprint, hoping to reach the end of the bridge before the Bandersnatch could block my passage.

c. Alas! It was too late. There it squatted, its flab gathering around its ankles and drool hanging from its enormous green bottom lip. I stopped in my tracks.

d. “Please, good Bandersnatch, I must pass the Bifrost Bridge for I have Facebook Friends I must speak to--er, post to. Please do not eat me.”

e. “Post to?” said the Bandersnatch, smacking his jaws together. “But there is no one to post to today, Dear Timothy. for I have eaten every last one. Why do you think my tummy sits so low and my breath reeks of …”

f. What proceeded between the Bandersnatch and myself was, in fact, a sharp but enlightening conversation about overeating the flesh of humans compared to gorging on the digital dross of Facebook.

“Think for a moment--Gurp!--how delightful this real-in-the-flesh meeting on the Bifrost Bridge has been and what it has done for our daily invigoration of life; the energy, the hot-iron discussion, the tension of impending doom. There you were, clamouring on, hoping to sit in a solitary place in order to “post” when there I stood before you, all gorged and blubbery, juicy and slobbering. You and I, we are real,” he guffawed, “those to whom you post? Apparition!”

2. I Think The Bandersnatch Spoke Truth

a. Between the “Gurps!” and the guffaws of the Bandersnatch, I began to see truth form in the misty air between us. In a magic column it rose and spun, it showered me with a watery freshness. Or perhaps it was just the spray from the waterfall playing tricks in the sunlight. Either way, the words of Bandersnatch penetrated the deep reservoir of my psyche.

b. “I can see that my words are getting somewhere, yes?”

c. “Yes,” I replied.

d. “Think more, then. Think about your divided self. Ah, you make a funny face when I say ‘divided self’ but is it really that funny? Do you think it nothing more than a philosophical play on a psychological insight? You are divided.”

e. “I don’t see how posting on Facebook divides me. I am not a human metaphor. I am … real."

f. “Yes your flesh is real, but how do you describe that indescribable something within you; that pull towards the mist in front of you, that thing that gave you goose bumps when you saw me floating pleasantly on my spiny back in the water.

Your body, of course, does not split into pieces, but your soul, your soul, your soul. You deposit it into unreal places, trapping it for the world to see.”

3. I Think That The Bandersnatch Was Getting Hungry At This Point

a. I could see it in his eyes; especially when he talking about my body and soul, my soul, my soul, my soul.

4. I Think Here Are The Essentials To Remember When Conversing With A Bandersnatch.

a. They are quicker than you think.

b. They don’t care about the Neo-Calvinist movement.

c. They like to pick their teeth with buttercups while talking philosophy.

d. They enjoy their obesity and relative sloth.

e. They have read Martin Buber.

f. They have not read Heany.

g. They make frequent allusions to Eliot’s The Waste Land

h. They are quite jovial, until you contradict them.

i. They smell like a dung heap.

5. I Think By This Time, It Was Time To Make My Move

a. “But so what, “ I said. “Just because I use a social medium to deposit thoughts and pictures of myself doesn’t mean that I’m becoming less of a person. Besides, everyone does it now. It’s a common cultural language that offers much good.”

b. “Offers much good? That is rich. We can justify just about any tool if we use utilitarian terms and concepts to support our hypotheses. Why, just the other day I use this here short sword to gut my neighbor’s pigs because they were making too much noise.”

c. You must excuse the Bandersnatch’s vulgarity. After all he is a creature of much dark renown. He knows no better.

d. “Yes, yes. I gutted them and tossed them to the crows. I didn’t even eat them. There they were, perfectly good swine left for the vultures. Indeed, this little sword did me much good that day.”

e. “That is not the same,” I retorted.

f. “Is it not?”

g. Just then, I realized I had contradicted the Bandersnatch.

6. I Think The Bandersnatch Was Right And I Really Had No Move

a. “It is not the tool, fleshling, that offers much good. It is the person using the tool. I can dig or kill with my short sword. And it is the same with your social media. I don’t know a Bandersnatch that would disagree.”

b. I was relieved he wasn’t rumbling towards me to eat me alive.

c. “My point, however, is not that it does or does not offer much good, it’s that over time it pulls you away from the realness of life. Then suddenly, one day, you find yourself thirsty for realness once more. You’ve posted for your causes, you’ve made folks aware, you’ve posted you children jumping and laughing, you’ve browsed for people to quote-un-quote interact with, meanwhile, your relationships around you flounder. You steal time from your family. You stop doing things … real things like walking across the Bifrost Bridge and talking to the likes of me.

7. I Think I Have To Admit, The Bandersnatch Was Making Sense

a. “Yes, I can see that. You are wise not to harp on the use of tools but rather the intent and vitality of people.”

b. “Well, that is to be expected. After all, I am a Bandersnatch.”

c. Just then, he started to rumble towards me.

8. I Think That A Bandersnatch Rumbling Towards You Looks Like Real Life

a. He came, slobbering and YAWPING.

b. “And now, fleshling, I will remind you of my intent and vitality!”

c. His eyes flashed red, and his belly bounced off the grounded so rapidly that it looked as if it was in slow motion.

9. I Think The Last Thing I Remember Was …

a. Hearing the crack of bone and the pain of real life seizing my soul, my soul, my soul.

b. We must have both launched off the Bifrost Bridge upon impact because I remember hearing water come up and over my ears and the gurgled sounds of the Bandersnacth YAWPING, “Do you feel like your self is divided now? Do you feel? Do you feel! This is the way the world ends, the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper!”

10. I Think I Woke Up In A Cold Sweat, My MacBook Air Open Upon My Lap

a. The Facebook login page stared at me, but all I could see were the eyes of the Bandersnatch.

b. My phone rattled beside me on the table--pulling at me in its own way. Then I heard a voice.

c. “Hey Daddy, we’re going on a walk. Want to come?”

d. I left the device where they glowed. And ran out of the front door.

e. “Yeah, I’m coming! I wonder if we’ll see an Bandersnatches.”

Home Behind the Sun and an Analog Resistance (Part I)

Saturday, I saw the Brilliance. In my thirties, I've seen how the best of us--even the very best of the good ones--find ourselves at the crossroads of quandary. The world can be a brutal and dark place, can't it? There are wars and rumors of wars, turmoil and rumors of turmoil. Children are objectified, hyper-sexualized for profit. The vestiges of our egocentric culture press in, distract us, inflate pride in spaces like Facebook and Twitter. Children grow sick. Spouses have affairs. Jobs come and go. Good men are stripped from the earth too soon. And these things--these ways in which the world comes up shadows--can mess with faith of any believer. They distract us, make us believe that there is too much darkness.

In the shadows of life, is there any light of God?

This weekend, I packed the car with fishing rod, a hammock, a brown-bag lunch, and a copy of Home Behind the Sun. I pulled from the driveway, headed toward the tailwaters of Beaver Lake, the sanctuary first created by God in the seven days of Genesis, and later augmented by the Corps of Engineers in 1966.  The tailwaters are a refuge of sorts...

Continue reading about the Brilliance at Amber's.

*Photo by Mike Rusch.

Good Links (THIS {^} EDITION)

It's my firm belief that winter is giving way to spring. (If I write that enough, it will come true at some point; right?) The last winter weather blast is melting away. The courthouse roof is nearly snow free, and the Fayetteville folk are finally going about their merry ways without spinning rubber ruts into stoplight ice pockets. The slick sheen of ice patches can still be seen in the shadier spaces, but for the most part, we are thawing. This winter, we've been pounded by mother nature. She's seen fit to excuse the boys from fourteen days of school due to snow. This was, of course, just fine with the boys, until they discovered that they'd be in school well into who-knows-when. Everything has a tradeoff, I told them; they are learning the ways of give and take.

Speaking of give and take, today I'm giving you some good links for the taking. Take them. Own them. Enjoy them.

Books

A few weeks back, my friend Bill Jensen sent me Mark Buchanan's book, Things Unseen. Jensen extolled his writing, said Buchanan was penning some really fine lines. I've begun reading the piece, and let me say--this feller can turn a phrase.  

In Things Unseen, he writes about the world around us, the groaning in our bones for heaven. "Better figure it out now; the world is booby-trapped." That's it, I think. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Links

Are you familiar with the Facebook phenomenon otherwise known as "THIS {^}". If you are engaged in the internet world, there is no doubt you've run across this form of communication wherein an article is posted, tweeted, etc., without commentary save for one word, "This." My friend, Tim Willard, pens his commentary on the matter. Full of witty banter, and inside jokes re 90's action flicks and reformed theology, this must be read over your morning coffee.

Are you a fan of mythical creatures, of legends, of The Walking Dead? Then you'll love this post at Brain Pickings that explores Gabriela Giandelli's book Monsters and Legends. The illustrations in this post are incredible.

It's Lent. You're giving up coffee, right? Donuts? Liquor? Meat? Well whatever your personal sacrificial offerings might include, have you thought about adding a little something to the mix? How about donating all that spare change? My friend, Preston Yancey, is gathering a collective of people to chip in and help some good folks in Haiti. Consider his post?

I tell you, I like 'ol Micha Boyett.  Not only has she written a book that might just be the must-read work for every mother mired in the muck of mothering (alliteration anyone?), but she's also curating a lenten photograph series that's splendid. If you are an Instagram user, you'll want to check this out.

I returned from Ethiopia in January, awe-filled by the ways the Ethiopian church is reaching out to their orphans. They are a beautiful lot of people, our brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa. Anyhow, I've been revisiting my posts on Ethiopia (especially this one about my friend Kabede), adoption, and adoption ethics. I hope you'll consider them, too.

Music

I've been spinning the "Recovery" playlist like there's no tomorrow. It helps when the cravings for liquor come to roost. On that playlist is a fella by the name of Jon Bryant. This week, I started really digging into his music thanks to this tweet by Katie:

This week, I'd recommend you dig into his music, too.

Video

Enjoy the song "David Livingstone," by Jon Bryant.

"You be Dave Livingstone, I'll be his African heart." What a killer line.