This morning, the hashtag #IfICouldTalkToGod started showing up in Twitter's trending list for the United States.
As far as I can tell, this started with a tweet about fighting giraffes:
#IfICouldTalkToGod I would ask him for 4 talking giraffes so I could start a giraffe fight club.— MustBeTheMeds (@MustBeTheMeds) July 22, 2015
Prior to this tweet, the last use of the hashtag was in 2013. When I contacted Twitter user @MustBeTheMeds (both publicly and via direct message), he confirmed that this was all intended as a joke, and that he was surprised to see it take off as a trend and to be taken so seriously by some.
.@SSawyerSJ All I wanted was some talking giraffes.— MustBeTheMeds (@MustBeTheMeds) July 22, 2015
Nonetheless, a number of people have taken it quite seriously indeed. Many believers are pointing out that prayer is talking to God, and trying (unsuccessfully, so far) to shift the hashtag to #WhenITalkToGod.
At the same time, a number of non-believers have used the hashtag to ridicule religion—and not always with the lighthearted humor which began this trend.
#IfICouldTalkToGod I would be talking to a big magic sky dude, which is what crazy people do.— just plain beth... (@whoawhut) July 22, 2015
But the winning tweet, at least in terms of humor, surely has to be:
#IfICouldTalkToGod I would tell him to turn his notifications on.— bitchin' (@LegendofJordyn) July 22, 2015
And yet, here and there among the funny and ridiculous and didactic and just plain mean tweets are scattered some that, in my judgment, strike far closer to the heart of the matter than the chorus of tweets exhorting prayer. There are some that raise real questions of justice:
#IfICouldTalkToGod How can a slave and a master both pray to you?— I Am HBCU! (@Anti_Intellect) July 22, 2015
And some that are poignant, honest and searching, a reminder that behind the social media accounts are real souls crying out to God.
#IfICouldTalkToGod I'd ask him if I could talk to my Mom one more time.— Chris Bradshaw (@Warbird1974) July 22, 2015
I'd ask if he could make me less lonely#IfICouldTalkToGod— Emely Vickery (@EmelyVickery) July 22, 2015
So, if I may, a word of counsel to believers on Twitter: don't just tell people to pray; don't just remind them that no "if" is needed in talking to God. Meet them where they are—even if that's a hashtag—and give them an example of what it really sounds like when you do talk to God.
Assuming I could get words out- #IfICouldTalkToGod face-to-face I'd apologize profusely for not doing life right and thank him for his Grace— Jimmy (@HoorayBacon) July 22, 2015