No More Secrets

Paul Vander Klay

The Internet has dramatically shifted the relationship between the public and the private. If you believe the modern state of Israel is fulfillment of Biblical prophesy then maybe you also believe Facebook and Wikileaks are fulfillment of Luke 12:2-3:

Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will no become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.

Is this a good thing? Should all that is secret be revealed? Who should reveal it? Does everyone have the "right" to all information?

Technological changes are often disruptive. Information is power and the Internet has exploded our capacity to relay information inexpensively. This subject is a generational project for us much in the way that the harnessing of nuclear technology was a project for the builder generation. We have only begun to pursue communal wisdom in how to handle this. Wikileaks in the political world and Facebook in our personal lives, perhaps like the Bikini Atoll are our first stumbling steps at realizing what we've created and the havoc we can wreak with it. State departments and military forces around the world are going back to the drawing board about how to manage information. A therapist I know told me that she'd love to see Facebook banished because of how foolish use of it has complicated and destroyed relationships. We have few settled, communal conventions for this power.

Probably the best way to process this is for us to have a discussion about it. I'll just offer a few initial thoughts and we'll see where you want to take the discussion.

1. We've long known that the print and television media filter distorts and flattens stories. A picture of Elian Gonzalez removed from a Miami home is evocative but hardly the whole story. All tellings of a story must rely on editorial selection and are received through reader/viewer biases. Are Facebook and Wikileaks postings really just flat "facts"? How does the medium of the Internet filter and distort information?

2. Is the pillaging of private space a good thing? We've long thought that it is healthy for a democracy to have an active press to disclose what powerful people want kept hidden but we've also known that they must exercise wisdom and discretion in that disclosure. Has the lure of potential monetization of private information tempted us beyond wisdom in this area? This is essentially the business model of the world's youngest billionaire.

3. Part of our difficult relationship with God is in fact His refusal to disclose. In some ways the Arminian/Calvinist debate over unconditional election is a debate about disclosure. Does God act upon history's disclosure of human agency or is God in control of salvific outcomes? The Bible consistently asserts that God alone can judge the heart and God's decision making process is inscrutable for us. Part of our thirst for knowledge and disclosure is our lust for mastery. In that way our quest for information reveals an idolatry in our hearts.

What do you think?

Topics: TV, Online, Culture At Large, Arts & Leisure, Theology & The Church, Faith, News & Politics, Justice, North America