September 2009


Twitter_Bar_1I have been on Twitter for about 6 months. I have been on Facebook for 3 years.
Overall, it has been a good experience. These are ways to keep up with old friend, make new friends, and gain more (hopefully good!) information.

During this time I have also heard a number of critiques of social media.  Some warn that things like Facebook and Twitter will make our society impersonal, shallow and hostile.  Some believe that social media can de-humanize us.

My experience and observations lead me to believe that those dangers can and do happen, but they do not have to happen. We can take precautions to avoid these pitfalls.

Two Rules to Maintain Humanity beyond 140 Characters

RULE 1When reading tweets and status updates, remember that the other person is far more than what is communicated in their 140 characters. The reality is that most of people tweet, re-tweet, and post without a lot of thought. Our true humanity goes far beyond what we post on social media.

I have a number of people whom I was friends with before we became Facebook “friends.” If you compared my tweets and status updates which those of some of my friends, you would never put us together. However, our common bonds of friendship and humanity are far deeper than our tweets. If you read a post that upsets you,  keep in mind that a tweet does not capture the full person.

RULE 2When tweeting or posting your status, remember that most people will not follow Rule 1. Most of us have a number of “friends” and “followers” who we do not see on a regular basis. While that is part of the beauty of social media, it is also one of the dangers.

Remember that many people on line only know you by what you tweet and post. That means that if you only post about how sad you are,  how evil a political party is, or what products people should buy, then you will be reduced to only those things in the minds of many readers. Take a moment and think about what your tweets and posts communicate. 

So go ahead – tweet and post away, but always keep in mind that your humanity and the humanity of those who you follow goes far beyond 140 characters.

nuns_with_guns_big

Watching A Movie with Evangelicals

A number of years ago I watched the movie Schindlers List with a group of friends.
One friend got up in the middle of the movie to fast forwarded the scene of Schindler and his wife making love. I am not sure if he realized that scene was a moment of beauty, healing and intimacy in the story. He did identify it as sex, and he apparently did not think that any of us should watch that type of behavior.
Oh yeah, that same friend did not have any problem “allowing” the group watch the violence and killing in the film.

That story is telling of how many of my fellow evangelicals deal with sex and violence.

Why do we think that sex on the screen is bad, but violence on the screen is good?
Many of us are sex resistant.We think that sex is inherently “dirty.”
Many of us embrace violence. We think that it is good to kill the “bad guys.”

Where does that approach lead us? 

Studies show that evangelicals have the same sexual behavior as the rest of the country. Studies also show that we evangelicals are more supportive of violent force than the rest of the country.

Comparing Sex and Violence in the Scriptures

We evangelicals strive to hold God as the authority over our lives. We also believe that the scriptures accurately teach us God’s will for our lives. Therefore we should allow the scriptures guide our approach to sex and violence.

Sex is a powerful and good part of God’s creation. Once sin enters the world, there are times when sex is abused and tainted.  We are to avoid this type of sex. However, sex within the proper context continues to be celebrated.

Violence does not exist in the biblical story until after sin enters the world. The first few times that we read of violence, the point is that sin has broken the world. God gave people the guidline “No Killing.” Anytime that violence is seen in the story it is either described as an act of evil or a response to evil. It is not a good thing. Jesus and His followers seem to go even further, telling and showing us that violence is not the right response to evil. 

How shall we deal with sex and violence?

Do we evangelicals need to do a better job living out biblical sexuality? Yes!
We also need to be more consistent with how we address sin and morality.  Specifically, we need to drastically readjust our views on violence. Scriptures call us to reject the glorification of violence.

May we lead our culture in support of peace, not violence.

Love Holding HandsOrthodoxy meet Orthopraxy.

I believe that the two of you would be an amazing couple. You really would make a great pair!  In fact, if I may be so bold, I think that you need each other.

Orthodoxy, I know that you have recived a significant amount of attention in this part of the world. You have been told that you are strong and independent and right. Some have been treating you like you are the center of the universe for a very long time, at least few hundred years. I guess that I am just afraid that it has gotten to your head (Sorry about the pun.). You just do not seem to be yourself anymore.

I am sure that you will remember her – Orthopraxy. For most of history, and pre-history, the two of you were like peas in a pod. Most people assumed that if one of you was somewhere, then the other was there also. This understanding was even reflected in the language of the ancients. In their understanding of reality to “believe” something was not just mental assent, or even heartfelt mental assent. For the ancients to believe was to do. Right belief included right action. Orthodoxy you were always with Orthopraxy.

In fact, one ancient writer said that without her you would be dead (I know, people have struggled with that quote for a long time.).

That is why I wanted to talk with you about (re)connecting with Orthopraxy. I love you Orthodoxy (I really do!), and I want to see you fully alive.  Orthodoxy I think that Orthopraxy is the one for you. She completes you.

 

school front old

It is pretty easy to collect theology.
It is a bit more difficult to apply it.

Tuesday was one of those days when I had to remember what I say I believe. Tuesday was my son’s first day of school. Sure, he has been in pre-school for a dozen hours a week, but this is big time: Kindergarten for 35 hours a week! I was looking forward to this day, until I Monday when a few thoughts sobered my excitement.

“We will not be able to see him as often as we have in the past.” “He will be under the nurture and teaching of other people for much of his time. What if it is wrong?” “What if other kids are mean to him and I can’t protect him?” 

I spent a lot of time expressing my emotions and concerns to God.

I also spent time thinking about the situation through the general Christian worldview. Here are some of my thoughts on the first day of school in light of the biblical themes of creation, fall, and redemption. 

Creation: (Genesis 1 & 2) God created everything. God called it good, and excellent in every way. Education is about observing the world that God created. All truth that is expressed there is God’s truth. There is no topic that will be covered that God did not create. It is good to explore God’s world. Beyond the content, God’s presence will be there.

Fall: (Genesis 3, continuing today) Human rebellion disrupted the peace and harmony of creation. Things are not as they were intended to be. There is still goodness, but it is not excellent in every way. This brokenness will display itself at school. There will be pain, conflict, and untruth. We need to be prepared for that. However, this brokenness has had an impact on every area of life, not just his neighborhood school.

Redemption: (The rest of history. Highlights: Resurection of Jesus, Today, Rev 21&22) God continues to love creation. God is in the process of healing all things in this fallen world. He invites humanity in this journey. Education then has a goal of being equipped to join the work of healing the broken world. My son is in preparing for that in his vocational life. He also gets to do that in the present. He can be a force for good in his school.

Remembering these truths helped me to relax more, and regain some excitement and even a sense of worship about the first day of school. Of course, seeing my son beaming with excitement also helped!