:: Friday, May 17, 2002 ::
It's Miller time! As in Dennis Miller (ranter/commentator/former Monday Night Football misfit) time. I'm going to go off on a bit of a rant here about the "e-tools" panel I was on at Search Party 2002. Joining me were Leonard Sweet, the guru of all things PoMo; Spencer Burke of TheOoze; and a guy from Global Pastors Network named Randy. As I mentioned in last night's post, I came away from that experience, based mainly on the questions we fielded from the participants, with a sense that many of us still aren't getting it as far as the Internet is concerned. We in Christendom -- even those of us trying to figure out this postmodernity we find ourselves in -- are still asking questions like "How can I make my website cool?" and debating whether or not people can develop true, authentic relationships and true, authentic community on the Net. I thought that perhaps we had moved beyond those questions and come to the point where we could talk about how the Internet is radically reshaping lives, perceptions of reality, communication, community, relationships and culture. I liked something Spencer Burke said about the Net when the issue of online relationships was raised; the questioner mentioned the "throw out the baby with the bathwater" cliche, and part of Spencer's reply was, "I'm not sure the question was even about bathing."
We've been asking the wrong questions about the Net. And we're still asking the wrong questions. Even those of us who think we get it.
What are the right questions? I don't know if I know what the right questions are. But I know some different questions we could be asking.
Instead of asking, "How can I make my page cool?" or "How can I get more hits on our church website?" or "How can I establish community with our church website?" why don't we try asking, "How can we engage Internet culture by joining in on the conversations that are happening all over the Net?" or "How can we be a part of the community that already exists online"?
Instead of talking about static billboards (websites), why don't we talk about the dynamic conversations springing up all over the Net -- on blogs, in chat rooms, over IM, on many and sundry forums, via Usenet?
Instead of debating among ourselves whether authentic community can exist over the Net, why don't we go out into all the world of cyberspace and be part of the community that does indeed exist on the Net? Who knows? Maybe the church can add some authenticity to what's there? (Assuming we have the market on authenticity.)
Instead of trying to lure people to our websites, why not go out where the people are? I got a lot out of Andrew Jones' comments about Jesus going to the parties at Matthew's house, at Zaccheus' house, etc. And sending his disciples out among the lost sheep of Israel. That seems to be a model of missional and mission-focused ministry that would work on the Internet.
Why is the discussion about e-tools in the first place? Is the Internet just a tool, something we can use to manipulate and alter our surroundings, to carve out another niche in the world? No, it's space. It's more organic than mechanical. It's a place in which relationships can occur. It's at least that, if not more.
And another thing: What's up with all of us Christian bloggers hanging out almost exclusively with our own kind online? Check out my links on the left-hand side of this site. You'll find nary a link to to non-Christian blogs or sites. How sad of me. I mean, if I have this message to get out to the world, as I claim I do, then why am I talking exclusively to the folks who know the message? I ought to be talking with these folks every once in a while, and linking to their site and their commentary. Or perhaps I should link to commentaries like these, or perhaps even post some of their thought-provoking comments. Stuff like:
Your typical churchgoing neighbor seems like a fine upstanding guy who isn’t about to stretch you out on the rack until you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, particularly when contrasted with the maniacs tossing rubber fetuses at women outside the offices of Planned Parenthood, and he probably is. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe a lot of crazy shit, and just because he doesn’t personally smear any fags does not mean he isn’t giving aid and comfort to those who would like to see your options limited.
Maybe Dr. Mike and I could have some interesting conversations.
There may be some changes occurring in this blog as my journey continues. God help me if there is no change. I'm experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance right now. But it's time once again to check the sump pump. (I'm considering a new blog just on the topic of sump pumps. Perhaps that's an outreach opportunity.)
The poor. Was glad to be able to meet Malcolm of dtour and to hear of the good work/God work going on in Sydney -- especially the work among the poor. That's the gospel, brothah. :-)
:: Andrew 13:10 + ::
:: Tuesday, May 14, 2002 ::
He's ba-ack! Just got home a bit ago from the Search Party 2002 conference, and first thing I did when I got home was check under the house for standing water. Sure enough, the water, it was standing. Deep. Fortunately (I guess) the sump pump was handy, having been in use recently (much rain in Missouri the past two weeks), so now it's pumping away, even as we blog.
Two, or maybe three, quick observations about SP02 before I log off: 1.) It was fascinating to meet the people behind the blogs: folks like Andrew Jones, Karen Ward, Allan Creech, and others. 2.) Thursday morning's presentation by Chuck Smith Jr. about establishing an environment in which community can occur (he didn't talk establishing community per se, but an environment that might foster authentic community within the church), really resonated with me. 3.) I participated on an "e-tools" panel, and was rather disturbed at how unwilling some in the conference seemed about embracing online technologies for spreading the Christian message. More about this and other stuff later. Time to go check on the sump pump.
:: Andrew 22:57 + ::
:: Monday, May 13, 2002 ::
Blitzkrieg Blog. Hey! Ho! Let's go! Plowing through the blogs this morning like a Panzer division across the Maginot Line, here's what caught my eye (nothing in here about war, Nazism or skinheads, by the way; the blitzkrieg reference is merely a literary device):
More U.S. latinos are shifting from Catholicism to Protestant forms of Christianity, according to a new study. "It's democracy in America. People have choices. ... It runs all the way across from the voting booth to the churches we select," Olga Villa Parra, former executive director of the Midwest Hispanic Catholic Commission at the University of Notre Dame, said of the study's findings. My own father, the son of a Mexican mother and Basque-Mexican father, made the switch from nominal Catholicism to nominal Protestantism at a young age -- about as soon as he could get out of the orphanage run by the Sisters of St. Mary and out on his own. Growing up, I recall that ours was one of the few latino families to attend Protestant churches. Link via ChristianityToday's Weblog.
Even while stories like The New Capital of Evangelicalism focus on the influence of mega-churches, small churches still dominate the religious landscape in the United States. But the picture is not at all rosy. According to the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, released recently, "American worship is lopsided toward small congregations, fewer men in the pews, a once-a-week gathering and few newcomers at the service." Moreover, according to The Washington Times, "'Most worshippers are not involved in small groups in their congregation,' the study said. Also, 'in an entire year, most people did not invite even one person.' ... On the bright side, the report said it dispelled several myths about congregation life, such as that most worshippers are retirees or that congregations lack forces for change." Also linked from CT's Weblog.
Manna Cabana gets a makeover! Link via Chinaman's Hat.
A couple of days after the event, I present to you Mr. T's Mother's Day message (Flash required). Link via the always insightful Dead Yet Living.
Hey, you dumb mug, get your mitts off my blog before I stuff that mud-pipe down your mush. For lovers of hard-boiled detective fiction, this Glossary of Hardboiled Slang is a must. Link via Creative Slips.
Karen Ward likes the new CD from Switchfoot (Flash site) and suggests we buy it. You can listen to samples on the band's site before you shell out the bucks. Good stuff.
David Hopkins ponders whether Next-Wave is losing its edge. "I don't know if next-wave is really 'pushing the envelope' as much as it could," he writes. "We've become a little tame. Is there a way to create interesting discussion and light some fires? Can we find the point of disagreement and play along those lines? And can we do it, in a way that is genuine? Not upsetting people merely to watch them get angry. And can we get angry, while still listening?"
Perhaps we should just call him Lord Byron.
No daily deals at Jen's site. "I'm broke, so browsing around depresses me," she wrote last Friday.
Scripps-Howard's David Waters questions the purpose of a National Day of Prayer. "Isn't every day a day of prayer? So why do we want or need an official, government-sanctioned National Day of Prayer?" He says he was going to pray anyway, with or without the federal government's sanction. Link via Holy Weblog!
There's so much good stuff on Wolfgang Fernandez's blog that I can't even attempt to summarize. He's witnessing and partaking in some amazing God-work around the globe. I look forward to meeting this guy at Search Party 2002.
e-church.com has become a blog. Tim Bednar, who created e-church as an outreach of a Minneapolis church (see my review of e-church, Oct. 11, 1999), has apparently taken a new approach. "Established in 1997, e-church has been many things: continuing education tool for Sunday School classes, platform for my essays, vehicle for a church planting effort in Uptown Minneapolis, and recently a metablog for a global, English-speaking faith community. ... Now, e-church will become my Weblog and focus on my journey in Christianity. ... As a preview, I am going to write about love, work, culture, and society as my faith gets worked out in the midst of the world." Link via Eatonweb.
:: Andrew 09:09 + ::
"Blitzkrieg Bop" never sounded so sweet. Something new for mp3 freaks: Dictionaraoke (and its mirror site). This site puts the audio pronounciation samples from online dictionaries to karaoke tracks of pop songs, with very funny results. I heard about this innovation from All Things Considered. Yet another great reason to support National Public Radio.
:: Andrew 19:18 + ::
Aaargh! Too much to blog, but too many interruptions.
I began this entry with the best of intentions. But then another university staff member drops by to discuss the state budget crisis, about which I've spent the greater part of the morning spokespersoning and writing talking points for, and about which I'm already tired of discussing, even though the worst is probably yet to come. Before I knew it, my blogging time has evaporated. But tomorrow is another day.
I did manage to add The Mars Hill Review to the blogroll. This essay about the greatly exaggerated and premature obituary for "the book" looks interesting. I've bookmarked it for later reading.
:: Andrew 15:23 + ::