Theological Community, The Church, The World, The Blogosphere

Arrested Reporter Smacks Down Joe Scarborough’s Criticism

August 14, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS

This is how Lowery responded on CNN’s “New Day”:

“I would invite Joe Scarborough to come down to Ferguson and get out of 30 Rock where he’s sipping his Starbucks smugly…I have little patience for talking heads. This is too important. This is a community in the United States of America where things are on fire. This community is on edge. There is so much happening here and instead of putting reporters on the ground we have people like Joe Scarborough running their mouth who have no idea what they’re talking about.”

via Arrested Reporter Smacks Down Joe Scarborough’s Criticism.

As the 4th approaches, remembering my #WildGoose2014 #wgf14 friends

July 03, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS, Theoblogical

4 days removed from returning from Hot Springs, NC,  I sit on July 3rd on my front porch wary of the Patriotism-fest about to be unleashed,  and most wary of the Constantinian moves taken by so many of our even Progressive churches.  We’ll sing Battle Hymn of the Republic and America the Beautiful,  songs I tend to like,  but in the context of “Celebrating America Alongside”;  the God/Country talks,  I am not as moved by these songs in this context.  None of this is something in any way unpalatable for the powers that be.  In fact,  they welcome it.  It serves to moderate and in some cases,  obliterate,  the notion of alternative community when the values and narratives of American Empire shove out of the picture the Kingdom of God concerns that somehow need to be set forth, again and again,  AGAINST the status quo that the Kingdoms of this earth want to preserve.

There was that sense,  at the Wild Goose,  as in previous years,  that we are encouraged and strnengthened to bring home with us,  and to “go out” with it.   But as I return to the Nashville area,  in the breadbasket of the Bible Belt,  the theology of the churches continues to ignore the acceleration of the forces that seek to do the bidding of the powerful.  They did during the efforts of the Occupy movement,  and stayed silent rather than recognize in that aspirational and somewhat strategic public grassroots effort,  there was about as clear an opportunity to sound a cry of the gospels and the prophets as has been experienced in this country since the Great Depression.  But this time,  we have this ubiqutous media here to tell us why it wn’t and isan’t working,  and why it didn’t.  They didn’t leverage the political system correctly,  they say,  even though what we see when we look at “our political system”,  a bought and paid for game of power and a battle between moderation and right wing revolution (that ironically seeks a return to exactly what the oligrachs had thought they had achieved once and for all in the “Roaring 20′s”,  but were forced to reckon with an explosion of populist, grassroot movements , and  warned by FDR that unless that make huge concessions in tax dollars,  they would lose it all.   But there,  it didn’t take them long to build their counter-movement and pit class and race  against one another and grow the gap between rich and poor to levels now unprecedented in U.S. history and rendering the U.S. as an Empire that eclipses even the Roman Empire in terms of inequality).

And yet the churches let the cries and efforts of the Occupy movement die down without raising any of their own voices which ostensibly speak for the oppressed.  And even as that population encompasses more of us,  they remain silent still.  The “Occupy” brand has been rendered to the dustbin of history of movements  and many point to Occueconomicpy as if the issues which it raised are spoken of again and again,  and say,  but they tried that and it failed. They “tried that” and it was QUASHED,  as it will be again and again if it is left to purely political movements.   If inequality does not become a platform and preoccupation of the theological communities,  then the status quo powers will successfully leverage the theological accomodations that are widely represented by churches and religious groups that propose what the visions of “The Founders” were.  The fruits of our labor will continue to be counted for less by the powers that be,  and the welfare of all will continue to suffer attack and implosion.

Gloomy, eh?   All I can say is that this is not the end of the story.

Church, Web, Social Media, and captivity to secular IT

April 27, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: Theoblogical

The “Social Media Business-fication” of the Web has infected the organizations that could be/should be best equipped to do theological reflection on what elements of the Social Web are important to preserve and to build upon.   The “numbers games”  of amassing followers and “likes” drowns out the concerns about the quality of the community maintenance.  The “technological infrastructure” concerns gravitate toward the hardware and IT-costs and the typical “bottom line infrastructure and typical development management geared toward “keeping the servers and sign ins and content management systems running”…all which is obviously important,  but these “daily care and feeding” tasks drown out nearly all attention/investment in the online community itself.   It’s much like the churches whose physical structures demand such obscene money and time resources to the detriment of the obviously needed investment in the people of the church.

And so we see Church Communications agencies ousting all but the young, non-theologically reflective technology people in favor of the “industry standard” programmers who churn out code, and can efficiently monitor and maintain the level of traffic and keep the patches up to date.  But the users who come to “lap up the content”  remain relatively unconnected,  as do the collections of content that cry out for healthy connections and relationships (between the pieces of content)  to offer up to the users that they need us to help them discover.  This requires some theological massaging of the databases that connect the content pieces.  CMS systems are often good at helping us discover and develop “Typical” categories of conetnt,  but to the theologically attuned audience/community, there are specialized categories and sub-categories.  And this is where theological  TAXONOMY is important.  The categories, subcategories,  and what realtes to what within those structures,  is different for every distinct community.  Different theological schools of thought order these categories and their sub categories differently.  This is where the “generic CMS” falls flat in accurately reflecting the “chart” or “theological social graph” (to borrow from Facebook) of particular theological communities. Ultra-conservative to fundamentalist groups have particular meanings in mind when they use certain words and explore certain topics.  “Progressive’ churches have another,  and adopt certain other political categories and allegiances,  which are “sub-topical” under certain theological categories.

ah, for the ‘good ol’ days’ (of Blogging, that is)

April 27, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: Theoblogical

A few posts I began reading this morning,  prompted by a Twitter link from Dave Winer,  who is one of , if not THE “Blogging Godfather(s)” to me,  as I cut my blogging teeth on his Radio Userland blogging and RSS software.  Dave linked to a post by Matthew Ingram who wrote wistfully of the “unedited voice of a person” which was something much more prevalent than it is now just a few years ago (not so much absent now,  but something has been sapped from the aura of energy that attracted an engaging and energetic and passionate, loyal audience.

It also pains me that there never seems to have arisen a voice from within the church communications community that speaks out passionately for the importance of “writing for the Web”,  or even pursuing much theological reflection on what Social Media offers,  is becoming,  or what it could be.

Much of the “Church Tech” world is lacking in theological reflection on what makes for “good Web” and “effective Social Media”.  And much of this is caused by the forces affecting the “Indie” attributes and origins of the Web and blogging which Dan Gillmor, Matthew Ingram,  Anil Dash, and Dave Winer talk about in today’s “what happened to the Web?” reflections above.  This theological reflection has a lot in common with these “Indie” visions for the Web,  and seeks to help us move beyond mimicking the style and aims of the business world when it comes to Social Media and the Web, and ask theological questions about what kind of Web and what kind of Social Media we should be seeking.


The Atheists That I Believe In

March 20, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: Theoblogical

I have written and I have had many a discussion where I articulate my sense of affinity for that which many atheists articulate. The reasons for rejecting a notion of a personal God are many. A good many of these reasons reside in the philosophical and “rationality”. While I have some questions about how truly exhaustive and definitive these arguments are, I can find much there that is understandable, and even “persuasive” if I “limit” myself to certain notions of what constitutes “rational”, because for many, what is “rational” is deeply tied to a philosophical framework that, in turn, is deeply tied to a particular “worldview”. Our modern age brings with it some notions that shy away from the “spiritual” in deference to the “rational” (the latter mention being that rationality which privileges the “scientific” (I use quotes because science itself is not a monolithic agreement on what consititutes “fact” – when I hear people deny this, I continue to hear them say things like “it’s just obvious”. And it’s understandable as to why it seems “obvious”).
There is also the “problem” posed by a variety of “religious” people and their insititutions. There is quite a bit of distortion and corruption that can be found. The distortions are often perpetrated by people so visible and so “loud” that it makes me cringe when I see the microphone moving in their direction. But these are not “representative” of “religion”. Indeed, NOTHING is “representative”. The very nature of religion is that it deals with ultimate values. Atheists have core or ultimate values. “Core” is probably a better designation because then the people who have a problem with any “ultimate” or “supreme” values; meaning those who tend toward the notion that ALL values are “relative”. But even those who would shy away from talk of “ultimate values” cannot escape the fact that they themselves operate within their own sense of what matters most to them.

There are many, many self-professing atheists and also “agnostic” who both have and articulate a strong sense of affinity for social justice, peace, and compassion for people. With them, I feel a deeper theological affinity than I do for people who claim to be Christian and yet associate themselves with values that come into direct conflict with the core values I identify as being Jesus’ core values. What people CLAIM to be their motivation for the values they hold are deeply shaped by what they have LEARNED from the communities to which they have found themselves to be in support, and are supported BY. There are GOOD reasons for people to reject the notion of a personal God, most often because they have come to the conclusion that the people who represent “the people of God” in their life have been anything but a people to be emulated, admired, or trusted. People with abusive parents experience future problems trusting men or women, or authority figures. Abusive and domineering religious experience can do the same with one’s notion of “God” and religious people. Some have also overcome those wounds to the extent that they realize at their core how their experience was not “the will of God” ; that it was a result of deep failures to live up to something more positive and supportive of themselves and of others.
As long as this post is, it only scratches the surface of how close I feel to many experiences reflected in the deeply profound articulations I hear from many atheists and agnostics concerning what they think about what would make the world a better place, and what they can do about it.