Grief and Distance – Responding to the World Wide Web

In our digital age it’s not always easy to register an appropriate or meaningful emotional response when sad or difficult news reaches us from far-off places, whether through our social media feeds or on the digital news outlets we frequent. In the face of such news we will certainly feel something – a sense of sadness or empathetic grief. But we may also experience surprise, or perhaps even guilt that our feelings are not as strong as seems warranted by some significant tragedy or sorrow. Our distance from the event in question, or the fact that we receive a steady stream of such news, means that our emotional responses are not as personal or deep as seems appropriate. This, at least, has been my experience with such news. Perhaps it is not only mine.

Last week, one such difficult event was in the news – we heard of a horrific house fire in the town of Kane, Manitoba, a fire that killed four young brothers. The boys were four of eight children that lived in the farmhouse with their parents. There is no way to describe this than as an utterly unimaginable and terrible loss for the parents and for siblings and neighbours and friends. To bring some deeper personality to the news, the CBC shared the names of the four boys: Bobby, Timmy, Danny, and Henry. Their family name is Froese.

On the day that I read this news story, last Thursday, I came back to it a number of times in my own thoughts. I came back to the house fire, to the reality of loss it represented, and to the whole question of our personal response to this kind of distant, difficult news. Obviously this news story isn’t really about me; it’s about this family. And yet we wrestle with our response to such suffering in the impersonal yet personal realm of the world wide web. Continue reading


let him kiss me – doubt and distance

Doubt corresponds with distance. To feel in our hearts and minds and bodies that God is removed from us, is perhaps equal to an experience of doubt.

On the other hand, faith corresponds with closeness. To feel in our hearts and minds and bodies that God is close to us, is perhaps to be in a place of faith and hope and joy.

If this is so, then the Song of Songs can be read (in a metaphorical reading of the text) as an experience of, and reaching toward, intimacy with God – an experience of, and reaching toward, faith. The opening words of the Song represent such an experience and reaching: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” Here doubt and distance would be displaced. Continue reading