I was flipping channels this morning and stopped on Headline News as they were talking about the new trend of tweeting in church. Apparently, some megachurch is encouraging its younger worshippers to use Twitter to keep their friends in the loop about how "cool" religion is.
I'm pretty sure this is not a good idea. I grew up attending a small, rural Southern Baptist church. I don't know if this is true in every congregation, but in ours the youth (the 13-18 y.o.) sat in the back. One particular Sunday morning, we were drawing tribal headdresses on the photos of deacons in the program and writing insults to pass back and forth, as we usually did every Sunday morning. (I actually still have one of these notes, probably from when I was 15 or so; It was from my friend Jamie and says "You are a big dog. You are a slobbery, rabid dog, too." Only "rabid" looks like "rabvi" for some reason.) Anyway, something happened that morning that was so totally funny that people were falling out of the pew around me, snorting and doing that silent crying thing you do when something is so funny and you're in a place where you're not supposed to laugh. So then I started laughing at the reactions, still not knowing what was going on, and that's when the pastor stopped his sermon mid-sentence.
"I want to know what's so funny back there," he intoned, red-faced.
The entire back three pews froze as we realized he was talking to us, man. That's when 200 pairs of eyes swiveled from the pastor's face to ours.
"I said," the pastor bellowed, "what is funny about the word of the Lord? I see you snickerin', Tina Bennett..."
I don't know if he said other names because my entire world went into slow-mo, and that's when my daddy stood up from about 20 rows in front of me and crooked his finger at me, to silently say, "Come down here right now."
Has your father ever crooked his finger at you? When mine does it, it is not a good thing. It means I cannot believe that you are my child and if I could tear all the skin from your body with a switch I would do it. When the finger crooks at you, you do not hesitate, for fear of death.
After Daddy's finger-crooking, I slunk up to the front of the church in silence. I could feel the fury radiating off both my parents so I sat as still as possible and kept my eyes on the pastor the rest of the interminably long sermons. The urge to die out laughing was intense.
So as I'm thinking of these kids thumbing their iPhones and Blackberrys and what-have-you, I'm imagining my dad, at the front, crooking his finger at them. Don't make him do that, kids.