Sojourners has invaded cyberspace. Or perhaps it's the other way around. Do we actively "surf around" in the e-mail universe, or does that world gradually envelope us?
Whichever, Sojourners has officially gone online and in this corner the question poses itself: Will firstname.lastname@example.org promote or weaken community? It's a legitimate concern.
The naysayers serve up visions of a world inhabited by solitary computer nerds, passing late-night hours in front of impersonal screens, massaging the various buttons that put them in touch with others of their ilk around the globe. The image of middle-aged men sitting alone at afternoon movies comes to mind. What does this have to do with being human?
And yet, and yet. Other experiences point to quite different scenarios. As people in touch with Christian missionaries around the world, we're being pushed by them to check into cyberspace daily. Our folks overseas may not have running water, but lots have managed to get online, and their world suddenly comes very close to ours. Community with them, via modem and words on a monitor, is real.
For a whole other reason, we're inclined to build community in the "Windows 95" world. The kids are already there. Who hasn't an experience of a 6- or 7-year-old in the family or community looking in amazement at our fumbling to hit the right button to get us out of some mysterious computer hole? They're naturals at it. And with reason. Cyberspace is the environment in which our children have grown up; it holds no fears for them. They're shaming us into entering this sometimes scary world.
Given this upcoming generation of computer-literati, we oldsters have little choice but to "get with it." We'll never make common cause with the kids if we don't know at least something about electronic communication. Said much more positively, young folks get very excited when we tell them about an e-mail message