Only Connect

That commandment, as well, is not unique to Christianity. It is found in all the world's enduring religions.

Rev. Yme Woensdregt

“Can you hear me now?” Most of us probably remember the ad campaign for a wireless company in the US. We’ve seen the horn–rimmed “everyman” roaming the countryside, asking from different locations, “Can you hear me now?”

One of the subtexts in these cell phone ads is our hunger to connect with each other. We need that kind of connection in order to be whole, to be complete. The English poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” We need to connect with each other. We are interconnected.

One of the wonders of the computer age is that we can reach out to each other in powerful new ways. It used to be that we could only talk to each other face to face in a much slower–paced society. It was the age of the front porch and the church social. We would visit with each other, sharing our time and our lives.

Today, we do it differently. Now we can connect with friends literally around the globe. I have friends in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia. I have never met them face to face. But I connect with them regularly, speaking with them through the wonder of the internet, and they have become quite good friends.

I’m not alone. Millions of people make those connections through instant messaging (IM) and texting on their cell phones. Teenagers come home after a day of school, and begin texting and IM’ing the friends they left not five minutes ago.

A few summers ago, I led a youth camp. At the end of camp, the teenagers all told me that I had to get onto Facebook so they could stay connected with me. They wanted to stay in touch.

That’s part of the reality of this postmodern age we live in. People have generally become distrustful of authority (often with good reason), and have rediscovered community as an important and critical need for human beings. That’s not a new thing. Not at all. But it is much more significant today than it was for people of my generation when we were growing up.

E.M. Forster identified this hunger in his novel “Howards End”. The title page has two simple words: “Only connect”. It became the motto of the book.

Only connect.

The church used to be in the business of helping people connect. Leonard Sweet reminds us that the church was where people came to make a connection with God, with each other, with their deepest selves, and with creation.

But somehow, the church got out of that business. We abdicated the ministry of building connections. Instead, we got into the principle business, or the proposition business, or the business of being right. We somehow thought it was more important to ensure everyone was a “real Christian”. We devised ways in which we could test their purity. We checked people’s credentials and belief systems, and if they were not up to par, they were not welcomed into our communities.

But that’s not the church’s ministry. Jesus never called us to inspect other people for the correctness of their beliefs or their opinions or their behaviour. Jesus never said, “Make sure they’re all ‘real’ Christians”. Jesus never said, “Learn the right stuff”.

Jesus invited all kinds of people to “Follow me.” Hang out with me. Learn what it’s like when we live together as if God were really in charge. Learn to live so that your lives show that God’s love is really for everyone, and not just for some. Follow me — and learn together in community to live in peace and wholeness. Make relationships. Only connect.

In column last week, I quoted Phyllis Tickle’s important book “The Great Emergence.” I wrote about two ways of describing community. One way is the “bounded group”: believe what the community believes, then behave as the community behaves, and then you belong. Believe — behave — belong. A different way is emerging: first, we belong to the community, and then we may begin to behave and believe as members of that community behave and believe. Belong — behave — believe.

It’s a good thing to remind ourselves of both of these ways of talking about community and groups. When we break relationships, we are guilty of breaking the great commandment to love God and to love our neighbours. We can’t separate them; both are part of the one great commandment.

That commandment, as well, is not unique to Christianity. It is found in all the world’s enduring religions. As we learn to connect with each other, in Cranbrook, and around the globe, we might once again dare to hope that we can learn to live together in peace and tolerance.

Only connect.

Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook

Just Posted

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read