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Strutting our materialistic selves on Facebook

Strutting our materialistic selves on Facebook

Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona ponders the eagerness with which we tend to share the extravagance of our lives via social media. Describing what he calls “Facebook bragging,” he notes that Christians, especially those who are ordained, are not doing the church or themselves any favors by posting photos of luxury travel, expensive meals, and parties among a “huge number of happy, wine-drinking friends” for all their Facebook followers to see and envy.

“We are a Christian denomination which has always advocated for the poor and for a just economy, but do we practice what we preach?” he writes. “Or are we more driven to impress our friends with what we have than to advocate for those who have not?”

Facebook is most certainly a platform where it is easy to be boastful, about our beautiful children, homes, experiences, and material possessions. Are we aiming to foster envy– falling prey to what Smith describes as “our own Episcopal brand of the ‘prosperity Gospel’? If so, how can we make better use of social media for higher purposes?

Read Smith’s entire post here.


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Hayley Zeller

@Bill Dilworth! Clap, clap!

@Amy, here, here!

Facebook is no more a platform to encourage boasting than the printing press was. Blaming Facebook for a person’s boasting, if in fact posting a photo of my “happy, wine-drinking friends” is such, is technophobia, pure and simple.

It’s also incredibly judgemental. Maybe that bottle of wine my friends are enjoying came from Trader Joe’s and cost $4.99?

Far worse is the priest who lunches at the Country Club but DOESN’T post a picture, because they don’t want their congregation to know about it.

Amy E Thompson



Bill Dilworth

‘Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the house of Simon the Leper,

There came unto him a woman with an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

For this ointment might have been sold for much and given to the poor.

When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.

Nevertheless, let us keep the matter strictly between us, and noise it not abroad;

Above all, tell ye not the poor of this, nor indeed of this dinner party itself,

Because you know what begrudging, envious crybabies those people are.’



I keep thinking of the painting “The Wedding Feast of Cana” by Murillo, on Facebook and placing a caption on it….

“Hey! Went to an awesome wedding this week. They ran outta wine. I fixed it.”

I, too, have a problem with the good bishop’s comments. The circles he describes are not the circles I revolve in…that, and, well, can we be a bit TOO scrupulous about these things? I mean, is there not a via media between extravagance and hair shirts? Jesus went to parties, too.

Just askin’…

Kevin McGrane

Amy E Thompson

After reading this article, I popped over to my Facebook profile to see the types of things I post there. The five most recent, and fairly indicative of the types of things I post:

Sharing the news of my kids’ school fundraisers in case any of my friends wanted to contribute

A post about feeling good when the kids liking something healthy I made

A photo of homemade chicken soup in progress

Two links to blog posts I had written about eating healthier

Extravagant? My friends (most of them Christians) tend to post photos of their kids, videos from youtube, political opinions, favorite quotes. Yes, there are occasionally vacation photos, but I would hardly describe most of the vacations as “extravagant”.

Perhaps the Bishop might take a closer look at the type of people he hangs with. Facebook is what you make it, and I think the type of things you post there reflect the type of person you are.

“And can we include in our public boasting our quickness to broadcast photographs of our beautiful grandchildren, or gatherings of our huge number of happy wine-drinking friends, or our designer wardrobe? It is likely that those of our acquaintances who don’t enjoy such gifts will either be hurt, or simply envious, and envy is one of the seven deadly sins we don’t want to be responsible for engendering in others.”

It’s likely they will be hurt or envious?? Likely? I love seeing my friends and family share the joys of their lives–it’s one of the things I love about Facebook. I think, “How wonderful for them.” If someone is hurt or envious of someone else for posting a photo of their grandkids, that person needs to get their head on straight. Sharing our joys is not “bragging.”

If someone in my friends posted a bunch of photos about their designer wardrobe shopping spree (note: none of my friends would post stuff like this), I wouldn’t be envious. I quite often shop at Goodwill for my “designer” clothes, so I would think, “Man, that’s a lot of money to pay for clothes. That dress is kind of cute.”

I think the Bishop’s mistake is focusing on the wrong issue. He is worried about the types of things his rich friends (and sometimes he himself) share on Facebook, when instead he should be wondering why he and his friends feel the need to live in such big houses, in such exclusive neighborhoods, and take so many trips to London. He’s concerned about what people see about him and his friends via Facebook and what they might think of that rather than if the life he is living truly reflects his principles. The outside of the cup rather than the inside.

In conclusion, he writes:

“Let’s “share” the things that really matter.”

to which I say:

Let’s LIVE the things that really matter. That way, what we share WILL be the things that really matter.

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