A Theology of Doomscrolling

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

“Liturgies—whether ‘sacred’ or ‘secular’—shape and constitute our identities by forming our most fundamental desires and our most basic attunement to the world. (James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom)

Calvin University philosopher James K. A. Smith, in the tradition of Lutheran theologian Paul Tillich, defines liturgy as “rituals of ultimate concern” in the first book of his Kingdom trilogy. As witnessed by the quote above, Smith’s constitution of a liturgy demonstrates more imagination than traditional ecclesial preconceptions can fulfill. Secular or sacred, purposeful or accidental, rituals “are formative for identity, … inculcate particular visions of the good life, and do so in a way that means to trump other ritual formations.” In essence, cultural liturgies are what we long to fill some existential hole inside of us.

The 2020 Oxford English Dictionary awarded one of its words of the year to a relatively new entry into our modern vocabularies: “doomscrolling.” I’m not sure it needs defined—it’s something familiar to all digital natives, especially in a post-2020 digital ecosystem—but a 2020 Wired article perfectly captures the dreaded ritualism of the habit: “It’s 11:37 PM and the pattern shows no signs of shifting. At 1:12 am, it’s more of the same. Thumb down, thumb up. Twitter, Instagram, and—if you’re feeling particularly wrought/masochistic—Facebook.” 

For myself, it’s Twitter. 

Continue reading at thepostcalvin.com.

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