I hadn’t stopped by the blog Words in quite a long time, but when I did a few days ago, the latest post was about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975. There is a Youtube video there by a woman named Alexis Dahl. Although she currently has “only” about 33,000 subscribers, I was really struck as to how well she put the video together (and how much she reminds me of Mark Rober – seriously, they have to be related, right?).
At the top of Ms. Dahl’s Youtube page, she has a fantastic introduction video, which I will share here:
Now, everybody knows that once a channel gets “big”, it’s impossible for the creators to answer every comment and email. An introduction like this helps a lot – many common questions are answered, and she’s got a good pitch for anyone who might be looking for partnerships of some sort. The video is there to forge a connection between her – the creator – and us – the viewers – and she succeeds well with it.
Also common, not just with creators, but with many things in general (websites, instruction manuals, etc.) is the frequently asked questions (FAQs). They serve to make it easier to find answers to questions that come up often, (hopefully) saving time and energy for both the creator (or creator’s team) and the person asking.
It also came to pass that I read through a post on one of the Orthodoxy forums of someone complaining about how “God doesn’t speak to people these days the way he did in the Bible”.
Now, first of all, I don’t know that we know that completely. Even in the Bible, there are different ways that God speaks to people. I assume, though, that the person means in the way that God spoke to Adam or Moses or Samuel with an audible voice, or like Mary, who was visited by an angel. Secondly, even among the people of the Bible, this is recorded because it really is a remarkable and rare phenomenon. Third, in the beginning was the Word, but it wasn’t like it was written down. There needed to be some method by which what God wants us to know can be conveyed to us by our own seeking. Writing things down is a little like blockchain; one can pick up a text that is hundreds of years old and it hasn’t been altered. (Don’t get me started on e-books!) As a kindergartner, I had to memorize Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever” and as simple as that is for a child to understand, it holds profound implications that are difficult for me as an adult to comprehend.
I get that many people who may watch Ms. Dahl’s channel may never see the introduction video. However, by watching the videos, one still feels a sense of the person she presents. I have no idea if she has kids, is drowning in debt, or has parents who need her help. However, she talks about science and history and places with such exuberance and joy that it’s clear that she’s cares about and is excited about these subjects. By letting people in that far, she seems far less a stranger.
Doesn’t it follow, then, that we can “know” some aspect of God through his creations? The air and sea, mountains and plains? Through the creatures, the giant and mysterious “monsters” of the sea to the tiny kitten or puppy someone has as a pet? Even more, that we experience God by the good through other people? Adam had dominion over the animals AND he walked with God in the Garden of Eden, and yet God created woman to be his companion and to keep him from loneliness. Are we to say, then, that with all these things, God is silent?
Furthermore, we live in a day in age where most of us in the West have no barrier to access the Bible or the writings of the Church Fathers. I daresay that many of us have multiple versions of the Bible in their home, not to mention having the Bible online and in all sorts of apps. Even searching for things in the Bible has become ridiculously easy. Yet how many people actually make it regular practice to read the Bible regularly, or even read through the Bible? If a Youtube content creator can speak through their videos, why complain God is silent when there is a lot there that will speak to a person?
I’m not saying that God can’t and won’t speak to someone on a more individual level should the time and occasion call for it. But I also think that when God brings things to that level, it’s either a huge call to repent (i.e. Paul) or it is in the “offering” of a difficult burden (your mission, should you choose to accept it…). He knows that most of the time, if we’re not really “listening” to the small things, individual intervention probably won’t change much. It’s not like he’s sloughing us off to the FAQs, but more of a “if I see you doing your best to do what I say here, I know you might be ready for more.”
On a more personal note, forgive me for not writing a ton of original stuff lately; December was insane, and these last 10 days or so have been excruciating. Any prayers for us would certainly be appreciated.