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Bishop-elect reflects on Facebook fast

Bishop-elect reflects on Facebook fast

Did you give up Facebook for Lent? The Revd Audrey Scanlan, Bishop-elect of Central Pennsylvania, did. On her return, she offered some reflections via a public Facebook post on her fast. Quoting with her permission, she said in part:

When I was a little girl, we would sometimes go on “pajama rides” after our supper and a bath; I loved driving through  neighborhoods and wondering what was happening in each of the houses as we drove by… families clustered around dinner tables, the glow of tvs in living rooms, someone at a kitchen window washing the dishes in the sink, an old grandpa sitting on a porch swing smoking a cigar… FB is not too far from the old-fashioned pajama ride- except instead of using one’s imagination, one is privy to what is happening.

That said, FB is a construct that allows us to project what we want the world to see and know of us.  One of my friends quit FB because it made her feel bad. She said that her life didn’t “measure up.”  She didn’t understand that FB is a one-dimensional representation of how we want the world to see us. It may be Truth… but it is not the Whole Truth.

Scanlan missed some things:

Without FB, I did not get to see Kute Kat videos or go down the rabbit hole of perverse theological debates on things like the pros and cons of foot washing vs. hand washing on Maundy Thursday.  I did not get to view the “People of Walmart” latest  installation and was left wondering about Bruce Jenner’s happiness.

Without FB, I did not get to see pictures of my friend’s first grand baby or learn of the death of a classmate’s parent.  I missed wedding photos, party pictures and, sadly, international news items.

My FB half-hour would have been best spent replacing it with a good news source.

Learned some things:

I’ve learned that the details of my life- and of my hundred of friends’ lives-  are (at the same time) mundane and extraordinary. To go without broadcasting them or having access to my friends’ life details is, for the most part, not a big deal.  No one really cares what I cooked for dinner last night.  And yet, there is joy to be found in the details.  And much holiness, really, in the “old brown shoe” day-to-day-ness of our walk.  And we care deeply about the little things. Because it’s the little things that add up to the measure of our lives.

Wondered a little about the future:

I’ve been cautioned by many that with my new “job,” my FB postings will need to change.  I disagree.  I’m pretty sure that anyone in Central Pennsylvania will not care if I post pictures of family dinners with us tying napkins on our heads.  It is a family tradition. And folks in Central Pennsylvania seem pretty cool with family stuff.

Did you fast from social media for Lent? How did it affect your relationships? Your time? Your attitude towards what you share? Your spirituality? Have you made any resolutions for your return?

Posted by Rosalind Hughes


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Fr. John Russell

I have at times been amazed at how much time folks can spend on Facebook. At times, critical, as in “get a life.” This discussion has opened my eyes, as it compares to how much time I can and often do spend reading our local paper, THE BUFFALO NEWS. There, I not only soak up the paper, both local and international, but use it consciously as a basis for daily prayer and meditation. Face book is becoming the same, perhaps, eventually, enabling me to share more of myself, which I have been reluctant to do. Truly, Facebook can be seen as yet another gift from God, depending upon my response and use of that gift. In retirement, I have more ability to “relax” into the gift of prayer, instead of feeling more driven to do it as a discipline. Thanks for the discussion. Peace. JAR+*

Tom Sramek, Jr.

I fasted from posting or re-posting on my personal Facebook page. While I found it hard to refrain from “liking” or sharing things, I also realized that sometimes letting something pass with out liking it, sharing it, or commenting on it can be incredibly freeing. Not everything is worth our attention, much less our participation!


I fasted from FB. It increased my purposeful interactions with other people, created a whole lot of time for prayer and reading. I missed some people, but those who I missed most, I made the effort to contact.

In my student community, I was more attentive to conversations because I didn’t already know what they’d been doing through Facebook. The most annoying thing was the ‘did you see that on FB’ comments in community, of which I was amazed, there are so many!

I’ve gone back on, but I might come back off again.

Susan M. Reeve

Like Danielle, I consciously decided not to fast from FB during Lent. I go there only twice a week at the best of times, so a fast would have been minimal self discipline. So why did I choose to step it up?

I wanted to learn how to improve our congregation’s FB page. St. Brigid of Kildare, Diocese of Northern California. Oh dear me, now you’ll all rush there and be sorely disappointed… As for me, I now feel better equipped to recruit and encourage folks to keep up a quality page for St Brigid’s.

I had another motive. Those of us who are ardent Athletics baseball fans spread far and wide in this part of California needed to keep in touch to plan our Opening Night tailgate and dessert parties at the Oakland Coliseum. All arranged via FB and a glorious followup it was to Easter Day! Go A’s.

I’ll now return to biweekly FB. I don’t play games there. I don’t look at food photos. I rarely seek out new friends. Those activities I prefer “live” – however, I have a new respect for the good uses of this communication tool and for that I thank the Church for the traditional custom of Lenten self discipline.

Danielle Clark

I quite consciously decided not to fast from Facebook for Lent. Instead, I chose to use FB as a tool for my spiritual discipline by taking an online course in the Jewish Bible (found through FB), by participating in Forward Movement’s Lent Madness, also found on FB and which allowed me to learn about saints of whom I had no prior knowledge, by following the SSJE Daily Word. FB and the Internet enriched my Lent. The time spent there enriched my life, and deepened my reflections and prayer.

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