Please God, no emails in heaven!

Today is deadline day (as if you didn’t know) for the General Data Protection Regulations to be in place by organisations who hold personal and potentially sensitive data. We have all received a surplus of emails issuing the GDPR requirements to opt-in or opt-out. The shiniest of data protection policies have been put on show. Such regulation is designed to protect the vulnerable individual from the tangle of commercial imposition and manipulation.

The flow of GDPR emails into my inbox has raised my counter to approaching 2000! This GDPR process demonstrates the popularity of email as a modern form of communication. Our lives can potentially be organised around this administrative tool which contains such power and might. This is a form of communication which is accessible to the great majority of the world’s population. Emails require only a tap of a finger to enter a secret world, disclosing hidden depths. But it is also a medium which demands a rapid response. It won’t allow you to slumber otherwise a pile will build upon your awakening. Whilst some emails will surprise and delight, others will shock and disturb. The email requires expert translation, not in terms of language but tone. What might be considered a quip in conversation face to face may well appear as a put-down or a jibe on screen. This is a dangerous tool, causing collateral damage for the unaware.

God’s communication is run on a different set of values called virtues. God messages through virtue – humility, kindness, patience. I would suggest that we would do well to subscribe to these values. Those who can not or will not be part of this spiritual regulatory process can un-subscribe or they can press delete. The problem is that God and his divine virtues will not go away, they will remain. God knows the secrets of our hearts, even those hidden depths which have not even been disclosed by email.  Let the information flow, let goodness prevail and may our lives be shaped by God’s communication in this life and in the life to come.

Today is deadline day!

But I pray that electronic mail may not be allowed to enter the domain of heaven. It would be better suited to that other place, the office of the mean-minded, that centrally-furnaced place of devilish delight. Please God, no emails in heaven!

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Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.