Theological Community, EcoTheology, The Church, The World, The Blogosphere

“Discarded intellectual” part 2 “Theologians of Networked Community” #WiredChurch

September 05, 2012 By: Theoblogical Category: Theoblogical

Another “Discarded intellectual” group that is sorely needed by the church,  is the “theologian of network technology”.  It is kept from playing a significant  role largely because the church organizations have followed the market tendencies in technology to the exclusion of sound theological discernment about how to let the “Social” actually BE social.  It has much to do with theological study and defining who we are in a way that makes the network such a potentially powerful tool for enabling the church to significantly extend itself into some powerfully creative spiritual habitat.

The “new toy” syndrome has stricken the church.  The  new social apps and services have been populated by church folks and organizations,  but the  organizations seem to be unable see any possibilities beyond a means to drive people to their website.  That’s where the “content” is, after all.  Twitter can’t hold much in a post,  so it’s for linking and “PR” to get people to where they can READ our content.  It’s right back into using new media to contain old media content.  Yes,  websites are old media now, to the extent that they carry forward a magazine, print-based communication (“Print-based” in that it  is  “the content written by us and published to you”.  It’s still the old top -down, one way flow.)

Twitter (and Facebook,  and  other “expressive” posts/updates like Google Plus)  are facing an audience that “follows” or friends us because people want to hear about events or expeiriences we tend to share about,  or inform their followers/friends (tweeps or peeps) about things that we find interesting or important.   Journalists follow a lot of other journalists and news  people, technologists follow people who write and comment on technology, sports, economics,  etc.

The most interesting people or  organizations I follow are the ones who post about what I find interesting.  These things are most often things OTHER than their own writings, or announcements from  their own organizations.  The Twitter accounts I find moost useful are those which DONT use Twitter or other Social Media platforms for PR and self-promotion,  and instead provide a somewhat steady stream of links to useful and interesting things.  Chris Brogan suggests a rule of thumb for Twitter:  Post 9 things about something NOT you for every thing ABOUT YOU.

As one interested in technology, politics, sports, and theology/church,  I have a wide variety of things about which I can post,  aside from posts about something I may be  doing or seeing,  some place where I am that I feel like revealing,  or some post I just made on my blog.  And I get several followers from groups of people interested in technology, politics, sports, and theology/church.

I tend to  follow  theological tweeters who I have discovered via a link attached to an article they have written (to which I have been directed by another tweeter),  or via a tweet that has been retweeted by someone I follow.  I click into the Tweet stream of the  one retweeted to see if they tweet other things I would find interesting.  I often end  up following people this way.  This tends  to grow the list I follow exponentially,  since the newly followed “RT” others they find interesting,  which often interest me as well.  It is a peer-based recommendation engine.

The PR approach detaches itself from the utility of this approach.  I guess  one could say it’s PEER over PR.  It harnesses one  of the many beneficial fruits of the network.  It is SOCIAL,  not commercial or marketing (except in the  sense of “social marketing”:  an exposure to the “market” of individuals in particular twitter streams.  It’s an exchange of recommendations,  much like what RSS subscription feeds used to be for me.  I even subscribe to RSS feeds of Twitter streams,  and use  them on my blog.

Someone like me,  who has been immersed in this online networking before there was a Web with much to find on it,  who became intrerested in networking technology BECAUSE of the church and my desire to extend myself into a wider net of  people (mostly in order to explore that very subject with the then few people who were also exploring),  is an example of  someone whose seminary training has culminated in an immersion in technology issues in the church,  specifically in that of online community.

It was Howard Rheingold’s 1993 Virtual Community that was the first printed  work which delved deeply into this topic.  Almost 10 years later,  Rheingold published Smart  Mobs,  which again delved into the online community as it has once again shifted due to mobile technology.  This year,  after another ten years,  he  has published Net Smart: How to Thrive  Online,  which delves deeper still into the world of how our brains and emotions and social experience of community is being slowly “evolved” into something that impacts  our very experience of both that space and that community which we seek.

I see virtually NOONE in church organizations paying  any significant attention to these things,  and yet  it seems to me that it SHOULD be a crucial piece to be studied by such ministries as Clinical Pastoral Education,  since  this impacts in a significant way the kind of people and the shifting psyches with which pastoral ministry  is involved.  And ultimately,  all pastors  and people who seek to minister to other church members (and in mission/outreach to those outside  the church),  this is a crucial area in which to gain understanding,  given the ubiquity of our technology ,  which seems will only increase as time goes by.

I should expect to see things like “Psychology of the Networked Mind”  (or the “Sociology or Social Psychology” of such) in the social and mind sciences in the future.  And if there are cautionary notes to be explored,  we who are called to be a community that seeks wholeness for ourselves and our communities would seem to want to explore these things along with all the other social and spiritual issues we explore as a theological community.

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Twitterfeed to Facebook

February 11, 2011 By: Theoblogical Category: Theoblogical

Since Facebook ‘s blog to wall imports have not been working ,  I had to seek out an alternative.  Twitterfeed will not only post from an RSS feed to Twitter (which WordPress already does for me,  for my blog posts),  it will also post to Facebook.   So I’ve hooked it up.  This post should show up on my wall.  (note:  it only checks every 30 minutes,  so at about 8:56,  it should show up, or whenever the 30 minute interval is reached (not sure exactly when it began)

Jackson Gabbard on Javascriot in Facebook Pt 2

October 17, 2010 By: Administrator Category: Theoblogical

Part 2 of session at Barcamp Nashville on some of the Javascript practices at Facebook

Jackson Gabbard on Javascriot in Facebook Pt 1

October 17, 2010 By: Administrator Category: Theoblogical

Facebook UI Developer Jackson Gabbard talks about some of the Facebook implementations of Javascript

Is “Balance” Overrated? @jesserice #wiredchurch #smchurch

January 12, 2010 By: Theoblogical Category: Theoblogical


spiritual director looked him square in the eye and said, “The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”

“You are so tired,” continued the director, “because a good half of what you are doing has nothing to do with your true powers, or the place you have reached in your life.  You are only half here, and half here will kill you after a while. You need something to which you can give your full powers.”

In a hyperconnected, hyperdistracted world, the move toward balance is often just an attempt to answer the question that only wholeheartedness can actually resolve.  “Half here” cannot bring balance to the half that is “not here.”

Where is “a good half of you” missing that needs something to which you can give your “full powers” with laser-like focus and whole-hearted commitment?

“Balance” is Overrated « THE CHURCH OF FACEBOOK: The Book, the Blog, and the Man Behind Both

Yes, Jessie!   This is key.  “Balance” becomes the ultimate compromise.  Radical presence,  radical obedience,  is often used as one side of the scale,  and “reality” or “the way it is” is on the other.  But is this OBEDIENCE?   This is our lame excuse for “struggling with it”.  What we are saying at the root is that we don’t intend to follow the radical path to which we are called.  we have to “balance” it.

“Half here” suggests tome,  that in our enthusiasm to adopt technology we work under this false reprioritization.  We can “live with” whatever damaging effects a technology or usage of technology may cause,  under the “balancing act” that sees relevance and “effectiveness” as the opposite weight on the scales.  I’m back to the issue of worship and what we say about it when we put it online as I have seen it done.  There’s no question that many of these examples have “good production value”.  Is that what makes it worship?  ISTM that there is a hugely important ingredient to worship,  which is attentiveness;  to God, to one another,  to our own “noise” which we bring to the table. 

Again,  this is not any kind of encouragment to ignore social media.  There are certainly social elements crucial to worship.  And there are always “media”.  But what expectation does the media or medium bring with it.  What assumptions?  And in paying attention to the “twittersphere”,  do we also allow our attention to be subdivided?  So,  far from being a call to turn our backs on social media in worship,  this is a call to discernment about what worship is or becomes with any particular usage of certain tools or toolsets and the assumptions they bring with their usage.