“The Church of Facebook is set to capture the human soul in silicon. On July 25, the New York Times reported that since 2017 the social media giant has quietly cultivated exclusive partnerships with select religious communities. As always, money is involved. While Facebook’s ultimate goals remain sealed behind non-disclosure agreements, the Times article does hint at things to come: ‘The company aims to become the virtual home for religious community, and wants churches, mosques, synagogues and others to embed their religious life into its platform, from hosting worship services and socializing more casually to soliciting money. Facebook is shaping the future of religious experience itself, as it has done for political and social life.’ If Facebook’s history is any guide, every digital prayer will be scooped up and turned into a data point. Livestreamed preachers who deny the sanctity of LGBT lifestyles will be flagged and punished as ‘extremists.’ According to Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, ‘Faith organizations and social media are a natural fit because fundamentally both are about connection. Our hope is that one day people will host religious services in virtual reality spaces as well, or use augmented reality as an educational tool to teach their children the story of their faith.’ Technology has become a religion. If you look at the personalities behind techno-fetishism, they frequently describe digital culture in spiritual terms. Striking a dissonant note, in 1976 the first Apple computer went on sale for $666.66. Despite the cuddly Steve Wozniak’s insistence that it was just a fluke, the numeric symbolism has dark resonance in the Christian imagination. You don’t have to be superstitious to appreciate the mythical implications. When I visited the famous Apple Museum in Prague, Czech Republic, a large decal on the front window read: ‘Three apples changed the world. The first tempted Eve, the second inspired Newton, and the third was offered to the world half-eaten by Steve Jobs.’”
“Mark Zuckerberg Is Planting the First Church of the Metaverse,” The Federalist, Aug. 2021
CONCLUDING NOTE: We know, of course, that Eve was not tempted by an apple. Steve Jobs didn’t know his Bible.
(Friday Church News Notes, August 20, 2021, www.wayoflife.org, email@example.com, 866-295-4143)