Social Media Gospel

If you have any responsibility for social media in your organization then please read Meredith Gould’s ‘The Social Media Gospel‘.  If you haven’t read it yet stop reading this right now.  Click on the link and go get it at Amazon.  Softback or Kindle version, you’re choice.  Seriously, go get it.

As someone who is just on the leading edge of grasping social media as something beyond an information service, there are some things that really struck home with me as I read The Social Media Gospel.

You know how some of your friends, tweeps and Instagram compadres send you a daily barrage of ‘this is amazing’ or ‘you gotta see this’ posts?  Those would  be called ‘curated’ content and they are an important component of our online presence.  And they can be dang interesting but many of us prefer some kind of relationship and so want to see some creative content as well.  It is a both/and kind of thing.  I appreciate seeing the things you find interesting.  I also appreciate hearing about you.

For the record, I’m relatively new to Instagram so don’t know what the code name is for friends/followers.  For those of you tempted to send me the LMGTFY link, please know that at the moment I’m too lazy and apathetic to Google it.

Another point made that struck me is that social media really is for everyone.  That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to spend 22 hours a day interacting with their ‘friends’ or ‘tweeps’  (or ‘instagrammers’) but it does mean that there are connections to be made via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  My mom was on Facebook for a while but found it a little overwhelming.  Remember your first week on Facebook when all the ‘people you may know’ and ‘help Joe find some friends’ links showed up?  Anyways, she gave it up but came back to it a while later when she realized that our family keeps connected with the day to day details via Facebook.  Big stuff is usually face to face in our family but the little stuff ends up on social media.  Not to mention a bunch of really cute picture of my grandkids!

Social media may well be a fad but a fad well worth investing some time and expertise into.  Not because you or your organization will be left behind (you will but that’s a topic for another post) but because there are some really cool people out there and you haven’t met them yet.  With social media, you just might make a new acquaintance or two.  And likely a friend, too.


Wisdom in the Fast Lane

Wisdom literature in the Bible isn’t written because it feels good but because it speaks words of truth to us.  Sometimes these are hard words of truth.  Wisdom is important because it is one of those things none of us are born with.  It is something that develops our entire lives.

There is a sense that as we, shall we say, attain more years that we grow toward wisdom, perhaps even attaining some measure of it.  It is kind of like driving a car.

When we are very young, we don’t know anything about driving a car.  We just know that it is kind of a magic box. Somebody puts us into it, straps us into a seat and then we fall asleep.  When we wake up we’ve been magically transported to a new place.  Cars are amazing.

As we get a little older our view of cars change.  We get our license and for a few years we put a lot of energy into passing anyone and everyone.  There isn’t always a lot of common sense used in our driving of these amazing magic boxes, much less wisdom.  But they get us where we are going and as fast as we can possible go.

In all this we spend a lot of time passing other cars only to meet them again at the next light.  Eventually this happens enough times that we figure out the passing part isn’t all that useful in getting us ahead so we just wait.   That is the beginning of wisdom.  The high speed pass over short distances doesn’t make a lot of difference in the end so why bother with it?  Odds are the cars we just passed are going to catch us at the next light.

That is what the author of Ecclesiastes is getting at.  Life in the fast lane really doesn’t get you there any faster.  When you do the math, going faster doesn’t get you there all that much faster.

Which begs the question, “where is it that you’re going, anyway?”  What is it that you are chasing?  What is it that you’re in a hurry to get?  Martin Luther put it this way, whatever we “fear, love and trust” the most — those things are our gods.

If we are in the fast lane pursuing our achievements, or money, or fame, or family, or hobbies, or sex, or youth, or power, then those things are our gods. And, according to Ecclesiastes, all of those things are vanity like chasing after smoke in the wind.  All those things are making mad passes only to meet at the next light.

No matter how fast or how slowly we drive, no matter how smart we are and how many answers we have or don’t have, the one thing that is certain is Christ.  We’ve all had changes in houses, cars, careers, and relationships.  That one thing that has never changed is Jesus Christ.  Everything else has changed but Christ’s presence has not.

Relating to God

Is it possible that the different spiritual beats we march to are part of our internal makeup?

It seems like a question with an obvious answer and yet there are frequent discussions with much disagreement, some pleasant and some not, about the proper way to encounter God.

We couch these things in terms of ‘personal piety’ and that is fair enough but I wonder if it is more accurate to think of it in terms of ‘sacred pathway’?  A couple of months ago I finished a book of the same title (author – Gary Thomas, 2010) and in the book he lifts the idea that each of us are wired into sacred pathways or ways we connect with God.  More accurately, we are wired into some combination of these pathways.  He lists 9 such as contemplative, intellectual, enthusiastic, naturalist, traditionalist etc.

Of course this list is not exhaustive and that isn’t the author’s point.  My read on it is simply to acknowledge that people encounter God in different ways.  I kind of map out as a intellectual-ascetic with a dash of naturalist which kind of explains why I get more out of studying systematic theology while sitting by myself in my backyard overlooking the corn field next door than I get out of contemplative activities, during which I normally fall asleep in spite of my best efforts.  Lectio divina and I do not get along in spite of any number of seminars and people telling me it is the best way to go.

That is not to say that contemplative prayer and lectio divina aren’t amazing things.  They certainly are.  But they don’t plug into my internal wiring very cleanly and there have been times I’ve been led to believe I am ‘less than’ in the spiritual department because these ancient practices don’t connect me to God very much.  (I’m not looking for suggestions on how to make it work.  I’ve tried plenty, thanks)

Can we create space for one another to allow for different sacred pathways?  I’m not suggesting relativism or even do whatever you want but I do wonder if the passion in which we debate our practices is related to the way we connect with God.  If so, then can we recognize our own internalization as to what connects us with God and thereby recognize that others connect with God in different ways than we ourselves do?

I’d go a step further and make the claim that this is a good thing.  The breadth of connection gives us a breadth of worship practice.  It has been said elsewhere that if we have exactly the same idea then one of us is irrelevant.  Or putting it another way, it kind of creates the picture of a sci-fi movie in my mind.  You know the one, where everyone is on an alien planet while standing in rows dressed identically and making the same kinds of noises in unison.

We really don’t want to be the droids we’re looking for, do we?

Out here on the edge (of town)

DSCN0705I live outside of Lincoln, NE.  Not so far that I can’t say we’re on the edge (of town) but far enough that we don’t actually live in town.  If it weren’t for the hill, the glare from the sunrise and a ginormous hackberry tree you could see the north part of Lincoln in this picture.

I grew up on a farm but haven’t lived in the country for over 3 decades.  While I don’t actually farm other than some tomatoes, basil, asparagus and cucumbers, it is good to be back in the country.  It is quiet out here, for the most part.  It is peaceful most of the time.  The only real ongoing challenge is gophers.  Properly they’re called thirteen lined ground squirrels but you kind of sound like a dork if you say that very often so I call them gophers.  The only real problem with gophers is they attract badgers.  Badgers are mean but will stay away unless cornered.  What they WILL do is dig huge holes in the yard and frankly, that pisses me off.  Takes a lot of effort to fill them back in and if you miss one and hit it with the mower, it is neither a treat for me nor the mower.  Ah well, it is their dirt too.

Even though I paid for it.

Anyways, that’s where I live.  Kind of on the edge.  Of town, at least.  Probably some other things, as well.  We’ll see.


Cell phone limits

Dr Rich Melheim posits the idea that 1) your teenager’s cell phone actually belongs to you (if you pay for it) and 2) the quantity of your teenagers uninterrupted sleep on any given night is up to the least healthy person with your teenager’s cell number.  (Check out his book, “Holding Your Family Together”)

The conclusion he draws points to the importance of sleep in a teenager’s life.  Frankly, they don’t get enough.  One of the reasons they don’t get enough sleep (and there are many) is the least healthy person in their circle of friends that is texting them at 2:00am.

The solution?  The cell phone, that is to say YOUR cell phone (the one that YOU pay for), goes into your possession at 8:00pm until the next morning.  You can say something like, “At 8:00pm please bring me MY phone that I give to you to use.” Gasp!  Heresy, I know.

When it comes down to it, what are the implications of that?  Your teenager will be mad at you certainly.  Won’t be the first time and won’t be the last.  It won’t likely be forever.  Will they be cast out of their circle of friends?  Maybe, maybe not though if they are it does call into question the circle of friends they’re in.  Will they have a chance at uninterrupted sleep?  Much moreso than if their phone is with them.

If we think about it a minute, there really isn’t so much of a downside to a teenager not having their phone on overnight.  And here are some definite pluses.

Where do you land on this idea?