Recently, without warning or explanation, Juan Pun stopped overseeing 1PUN. Now no-one tweets out the reminders, no-one is judging our efforts and there are no official winners. But 1PUN continues. It seems like it's as popular as ever. And, in a way, the scoring does happen, but in the way it's always happened on Twitter: via favourites and retweets. It's the People's Republic of #1PUN and it's working.
Let's think about religion and morality. Could it be that the People's Republic of #1PUN gives us a model for how morality works after the death of God? Perhaps God is like a heavenly Juan Pun - a made-up figure who has now retreated from the scene. To begin with, his absence was disconcerting, but after a bit, we've just gotten on with it. Now people act pretty much the same way they ever did except that, under the new regime, they don't receive authoritarian pronouncements from on high, they are simply judged by their equals. Approval and disapproval has been democratized and we've all just gotten on with life without any noticeable outbreaks of apocalyptic evil.
What do we think? Is it the same thing?
Well here's one response you could make:
"Yeah but... Watch out for the democratization of values. A nasty pocket of racist tweeters could get hold of the hashtag and flood it with bigoted "humour". In just that way, whole people groups could decide on a new direction for a culture's morality and there'd be nothing to say they were wrong."
You could make that kind of argument. And there'd be truth to it. But I think we need to go deeper.
You see the analogy just doesn't hold. At all really. The triune God is not a heavenly Juan Pun trying to manage a little system within a much larger paradigm. The Father hasn't looked around at all the morality that's been going on and dreamt up a scoring system to administrate it. He is the Author of goodness, the Son is the Expression of goodness, the Spirit is the Perfecter of goodness. God is good - goodness itself.
The triune God does not relate to the world as Juan Pun to word-play but like Oscar Wilde to Algernon. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Algernon may be extremely funny while denying all knowledge of any authorship over his life. But on the deepest level, he cannot declare his independence from Wilde. He's only funny because of him.
We can deny God all we like. We can call him an out-dated construct but actually we are the constructs. And every concept we use - whether of goodness, truth, beauty, justice, even humour - is either borrowed capital or ultimately bankrupt. The people's republic of earth does not threaten the kingdom of heaven - actually it presupposes it. All the while there's a Father beckoning the world to something greater than abstract values like "goodness" - He's inviting us to Himself.