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‘God is pleased when we try to reach out to one another’

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By Nancy Kennedy

Truly, when God created the 24-hour day he did not factor in blogging.

There’s got to be trillions of people who detail their every thought, word and deed and breakfast item (complete with photos) on their blog (“Web log,” an online diary of sorts).

If I could, I’d spend 57 ½ hours a day reading them. In addition to regularly following my daughter Alison’s “The Neurotic Housewife” (“where worry is a full-time job”), I also read Margie Haack’s “Toads Drink Coffee” (“Finding what’s funny, what’s holy, what’s suffering in ordinary, everyday life”) and “Ministry So Fabulous!” by Amy Beth Bullard, a young woman in Tennessee who heads a ministry that mentors girls, plus a variety of other blogs scattered throughout cyberspace.

Some I read just for the snark value, others to gain information and ammunition and occasional inspiration.

One of the best features about blogs - you can leave comments for the blog writer or for others who leave comments, thus making a blog interactive.

In the olden days people used to talk to each other. Now they blog or text and no one has to actually make a physical, human connection.

The other day I was reading the comments on a blog about trusting God in fearful situations. The blog writer had asked readers to reply with favorite comforting scriptures, which many did.

Then someone named David left a totally unrelated comment, which is common among the blogosphere. He wrote: “I guess that this ole New York boy will probably never get settled and comfy here in good ole Florida. Even the good church folk seem to have a difficult time accepting strangers in their midst.

“I don’t see or hear of much fellowshipping with the men, but there’s plenty of gossip among the women. If living alone is the Southern way, I’d be better off in New York City. God bless us all, ‘cuz we need it.”

I won’t tell you my initial thought, because it wasn’t kind. But my second thought was about what caused him to write a completely random comment on this particular blog. Where in Florida does he live? What churches has he visited? (Is mine one of them?) Has he tried to make friends or is he a spooky, Boo Radley type that gives off heebie-jeebie vibes that keeps people away?

I do know what he’s talking about, though. Much like high school, it’s hard to be new at church. Even if the pastor periodically tells people to make nice with the people around you and be kind to strangers, people still drift to what and whom they’re most comfortable being around. When it comes to the human condition, comfort trumps just about anything else.

I think that’s the great appeal to online relationships. Cyber is emotionally safer. There’s even a virtual online church that you can “attend” without having to change out of your jammies or brush your teeth. You don’t have to deal with people being so - people-y.

However, God has created us with a need for human interaction and involvement. It’s the whole “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world” thing.

Part of the job of the church is to help people acknowledge their need and shed their fear and intimidation of others and actually (not virtually) do life with one another.

Proverbs 18:1 haunts me every time I’m tempted to be an avatar (a make-believe online persona) - “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire.” Other versions say, “he pursues selfish ends” and that “loners who care only for themselves spit on the common good.”

Yikes! As one who is guilty of preferring my own company, that speaks to me loud and clear. But it’s not easy, you know? People are people-y, and some more people-y than others. Still, I think God is pleased when we try to reach out to one another, and he is more than able to pick up the slack.

So, if you see David, be nice to him - for your own soul’s sake.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.