On social media platforms, topics such as entertainment, politics and even meal choices provide opportunities to share aspects of daily life. This week’s clergy discuss whether your religious beliefs are also Facebook and Twitter-worthy.
Rabbi Motti Grossbaum
Chabad Jewish Center, Stony Brook
I believe it is definitely appropriate in this day and age for people to share their thoughts on religion and how it impacts their lives on social media channels. After all, social media are about sharing whatever is important to you, with whomever is important to you. They are avenues to convey your personal thoughts and experiences with family and friends. Hence, it’s the perfect medium to keep your friends updated on “what makes you tick,” and to inspire others with our sacred mandate — to make a difference in the world, one good deed at a time. While it’s true and important that communication platforms should never replace real community experiences, and our social media engagement should not substitute in-person interactions; Jewish tradition teaches that one must utilize everything in our world to bring spirituality and a higher purpose to creation. By infusing the daily conversation on Facebook and Twitter with inspirational ideas of faith and holiness, we are doing just that. Though the Jewish people are commonly known as the people of the book, I doubt that reference was meant to include Facebook. Still, I do my utmost to engage people through all social media outlets, to inspire and encourage them to embrace their spirituality and their heritage. Face-to-face meetings are always the preferred method of communication, yet I’ve found that through social media I can meet and interact with a growing number of people, some of whom I may not have met otherwise. All of these interactions have led to an act of goodness or kindness. And for that alone, social media have my blessing.
Member of the board of directors of the Multi-Faith Forum of Long Island in Melville, lecturer on Hinduism based upon the philosophy of the Bhagwad Geeta
Any time is an appropriate time to convey your spiritual message. With the advancement of science and technology, everything has become global. You can discuss anything and everything with the people around the world instantly. The core message of Vedic dharma is that almighty God is seated in the heart of everybody. In Srimad Bhagavad Geeta, Chapter XV, Verse 15, Lord Krishna says “I am seated in the heart of everybody. I am the memory and I am the forgetfulness.” The applicability of this supreme thought makes everybody divine provided everyone obeys the value system which is called “dharma.” With this presumption everyone becomes a moving temple or church and/or synagogue, and that includes using social media such as Facebook to spread positive ideas. With full awareness one can discipline oneself in food, speech and thought because almighty God who is seated in the heart of everyone will be watching all the time. He further commands in Chapter VI, Verse 30 that “He, who see Me everywhere and sees all in Me, I am not lost to him, nor he is lost to Me.” Such universal messages have no time frame, and it is appropriate to share such divine wisdom at any time and all the time to all the people irrespective of creed, language, dress, race and national origin. The beauty and fragrance of this celestial full-bloom flower, which is called Vedic dharma must be enjoyed and appreciated every moment on this planet Earth.
Chaplain, Kellenberg Memorial High School, Uniondale
Social media are perhaps one of the greatest challenges that children and young people face as they journey to Christian maturity. Young people are more connected than any past generation, and when social media are used for education, or positive inspiration, it can be very healthy. One of the things that I say to my students at Kellenberg Memorial is this: Whatever you post — make sure it’s something that your parents would be proud of, and that could be on the front page of any newspaper in a favorable way. Sometimes young people do not understand that what they post, whether it’s in words or pictures, lasts forever. As a Catholic priest and teacher, I make every effort to instruct our young people about this subject. For high school students, most of what is posted is trivial and sometimes bordering on the ridiculous. Our students do not use social media for religious issues or points of discussion. They have many venues for religious discussion whether it’s in class, on retreat or in the multiple spiritual activities that we offer. Most know that if they want to have an authentic discussion on a faith topic, they can speak to one of their teachers, or the brothers and priests here in order to get a solid answer. It is always important to look at social media from the good that they can do. My guess is that St. Paul, if he were around today would rely on social media to positively build up the kingdom of God in the here and now. If he would do it, we can do it.