community, spiritual life

SEO, Patagonia & dogs

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Theodore Parker, American transcendentalist, abolitionist

A bit of internal research revealed an amusing trend at Outside magazine. Staffers report they have found headline keywords associated with stories that go viral on the internet. Among them, “Patagonia” (the outerwear company) and “dog” were nearly guaranteed to light a fire in readers that could not be quenched without sharing on the ether.

It seems we each have an internal search engine not unlike those used by Google, Bing and shadowy others. Certain words, images, personalities and ideas capture us.

In the internet world, this means simply using words like “Kardashian,” can get search engines’ “spiders” to “crawl” a website’s text, making the kind of connections advertisers and others with an agenda could only dream of in the past. Webmasters making use of such techniques even has a name — SEO, or search engine optimization.

I’m going to assume the good people of Outside don’t have much of an agenda other than making a living while producing a first-rate periodical. Writers and photographers do have to eat, after all. The shadowy others crawling, scraping, phishing, spamming, scamming and trolling the internet are surely not as guileless.

Blessedly, the story doesn’t end there. Worthy politicians and others who would fight the good fight might appear to be wielding little more than a fly swatter, but there is a God who is the search engine to end all search engines. And, He sees it all.

It is He who heard the blood of a murder victim crying out to Him from the soil into which it had soaked. (Genesis 4) It is He who was well aware of King David’s adultery and murderous betrayal of a loyal soldier even though the rest of Israel was not. God sees. God knows.

This all-arcing awareness has a flip side, as well. God also sees the unnoticed acts of love and kindness that go on everywhere and every day. He’s looking for them, in fact, according to 2 Chronicles 16:9a. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” KJV

An example? It is God the Son who hand picked Nathanael, a man Jesus said was entirely free of guile, to be on His dream team. (John 1) What happened under the fig tree that sparked Jesus’s admiration may remain a mystery to us, but God knows.

So, even in the internet age, we need not live in fear nor rage. There are those who lurk in shadow, just as there have always been. Justice may be slow coming. Reward may feel even slower. But, both surely will arrive.

God sees. God hears. God knows.

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