Down The Rabbit Hole

  So she was  cinsideringg getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, `Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’ (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on,

Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again. (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Chapter 1)

There has been a lot of discussion, and indeed, research into the role that social media, e.g., complex video content, plays in radicalization and polarization of social media audiences. (Yesilada M. & Lewandowsky S. Systematic review:

YouTube recommendations and problematic content. Internet Policy Review, 2022, 11(1) 1-22.)  Algorithms whose purpose is to keep viewers viewing through characteristics of similarity, repetition and consecutiveness of content can send viewers into a rabbit hole. (Wooley K, Sharif MA. Down a Rabbit Hole: How Prior Media Consumption Shapes Subsequent Media Consumption. Journal of Marketing Research, 2022, 11(3) 453-471.)

Social media intend to keep viewers watching, looking, and searching, which has been shown to contribute to recruitment to conspiracy theories. (Forberg PL. From the Fringe to the Fore: An Algorithmic Ethnography of the Far-Right Conspiracy Theory Group QAnon. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 2021, 51 (3): 291-317.)

In we fall into a rabbit hole: a situation in which you become so interestIed in a subject or an activity that you cannot stop trying to find out about it or doing it.(Cambridge Dictionary)

Every morning, I spend breakfast time going on the internet to read and reflect on the day’s Scripture readings, consuming different interprettions but still exercising a lectio divina, meditating to seek the relevance God has sent in the readings.  Wi

th the recent talk of rabbit holes, I wondered, have I gone down a radical, religious one?  Have I closed my mind to become less open to other ideas? My own discernment leads me to say, “No.” but am I just fooling myself?

The readings of the Feast of the Holy Trinity gave me some answers to my question.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16: 12-13)

Jesus explains that we cannot know everything immediately.  The Spirit of truth will guide us into all the truth.  We get an opportunity for an expanding knowledge and wisdom, not a narrowing one.  This evolutionary process is one where we all become capable of learning more and more of God’s truth.

Acknowledging hat we can never know everything, we must recognize that our journey to all the truth did not finish with Pentecost and the Apostles and Paul, but continued to mature and change, through the Council of Trent and later Vatican II, and will never finish until we meet God face-to-face. The tradition of the Church therefore is to willingly be guided to change and grow.

No rabbit hole for us.   We Christians are challenged to exercise our spirits, to reflect, learn and then to act; our minds and souls should remain open to the wisdom the Spirit sends us in our interactions with God and with others.

In Romans, Paul points out another sequence of maturation and growth, enabled by God’s love given to us by the Holy Spirit.

“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 3-5)

The wisdom of God, like God’s love, poured out through the Spirit, was there from before the beginning of time, and revelled in creation, a master worker rejoicing in God’s inhabited world.

“When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.” (Proverbs 8: 27-31)

On the Feast of the Holy Trinity, I was thankfully rejoicing in a Triune God of infinite generosity and love, and excited at the prospect of growing and changing with the Spirit’s guidance towards all the truth.  No radical rabbit hole for me.

Dr. Michael Bautista is a physician practising in St. John's and is the recipient of the 2015 Ignatian Spirit Award from St. Bonaventure's. He is also the Chair of the Discipline of Anesthesia at Memorial University. and an associate professor of Medicine.

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