More Networking – The Changing World

I just read a very interesting article about social networking by Kore who I discovered through twitter.  The main crux of the article is that we have moved in society from consumers and workers being given designs and making product handed down from the powers that be.  We are now participants engaging in a conversation that shapes our future as we envisage it.  We now chose to create and share our content with each other.  We make our own clothing and share our ideas with others.  You only need to look at Threadless or ebay to see this becoming increasingly the case. 

The factory encouraged us to see everything through the prism of the orderly production line delivering products to waiting consumers.  The web will encourage us to see everyone as a potential participant in the creation of collaborative solutions and ideas.  This way of thinking will not touch all organisations but some will be transformed, and many will find some aspects of what they do changed, possibly quite fundamentally, by this new organisational recipe.

People want to be treated like participants and contributors not merely consumers, spectators, a passive audience or band of followers, so how do we really deepen participation?  What does it mean to be a participant?  How can you really get people to collaborate and share? How could the church help to nurture this culture of sharing and collaboration? Why does it matter to people and why should it matter to the church?

The Bible Meets the X-box

Ruth Gledhill at The Times has written an interesting article called “Bang! Crash! Kill those Canaanites! The Bible on your X-Box”. 

This got me thinking about how this fits into the emerging conversation.  It is clear that the scriptures are of great importance to our faith.  My experience over the last ten years is that people invariably have little or no contact with them.  Even in churches they are becoming more and more difficult for people to engage with.  Personally I love the feel of a book in my hand, the smell of the paper and ink.  I love that slightly exhilarating feeling of being the first person to open a book.  The  first to cast my eyes upon its contents.  I like it when someone (usually my wife) has to wait for me to pass it on to them.  However, for many, reading a book is not a common activity. 

This has led many to reimagine how people can engage with the text itself.   I have previously blogged about “The Book”, a project that produced the New Testament in the format of a magazine complete with stunning photography.  Instead, here we have the X-box being used as a vehicle for the text.  To me it looks like “Study Bible +”.  It seems to whiz around the text and give lots of aditional information if you want it.  It looks like a very familiar modern world experience as one thing zooms off and another zooms on.  The “reader” is bombarded with a stream of information.  How very postmodern.

The real question I have is – is this new?  No doubt there will be detractors who claim this is a sign of the end times.  As we all know, God’s true intention in a restored kingdom is produced using the printing press and archaic language.  Modern technology is no doubt corrupting our young, corrupting the text and warping our doctrine…

…or is it?  Haven’t we been doing exactly this for years.  I remember starting my undergraduate degree over a decade ago and buying the Zondervan Step Reader with access to all sorts of different translations of the bible, commentaries and maps.  I remember whizzing from one part to the next, searching and comparing.  Then of course there is my current concordance.

So now that wireless controller has a little joystick and button a, b and c…. not much is different to this wireless keyboard and mouse I am using to do this. 

One more reason why my wife needs to let me buy an X-box =D

Speech DeBelle Talks About Jesu… Michael Jackson

This is from the Metro newspaper 60 second interview with Speech DeBelle on September the 8th.  What do you think?

To me, Michael Jackson’s story of his life is very similar to the story of Jesus. This young guy who, from when he was very young, showed signs of being exceptional. Jesus went around preaching the gospel and touching people and.. making lepers better. Michael Jackson’s gone around the world and done that – he might not have literally touched someone and made them see but, apparently, I don’t know if this is true, there were kids around him that had cancer that don’t have cancer any more.

Church Based Blogs and Internet Communication

After to my recent post about Giles Fraser brief article for the Church Times about how blogs can be bad for the soul I have been carrying on as normal and occasionally dabbling in the internet.  However, I have been noticing a lot of home truths emerge from what Giles Fraser said.  I also went to a seminar on non-internet based church communication that I think also applies in this situation.  The third thing that informs this post is that I went on the train to the football on Saturday and watched Boro get beaten by Man Utd.

Dave Walker made perhaps the most poignant blog on the topic of Christian blogging by giving up trying to comment upon it.  I’ll leave him to speak for himself:

I’ve spent a lot of time going through blogs and comments this afternoon and had planned to write about some of the responses to the article. But I’ve found the experience to be (as Giles describes it) “bad for (my) spiritual health” so I’m just posting some links to those sites that I had planned to link to. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

I think his links make Giles Fraser points quite well.

Over the last few days on the blogsphere I have been really disheartened by the uncharitable nature in which people discuss things with each other.  It seems that there are many easy targets out there for Christians to stick the knife into each other.  I went to one particularly harsh blog article criticising a local thriving cafe church because it wasn’t “a valid church” as it wasn’t a traditional looking mass.  In theological ‘debate’, everyone tends to get a raw deal.  As a man, I noticed that ‘men’ tend to get a raw deal as one giant stereotypical collective.  As though all men are wife beaters and sexual predators.  But then I realised that women also get a raw deal in the ‘debate’.  Then I noticed that it also applies to ‘conservatives’, ‘liberals’, ‘bishops’, ‘Catholics’, ‘protestants’, ‘homosexuals’, ‘straight people’, ‘fresh expressions’, ’emergents’, ‘traditional worshippers’, ‘traditionalists’, ‘foreigners’…. the list goes on forever.  People seem to be able to suspend reason when examining their own corner from which they come out fighting but are able to make ridiculous comparisons for those of a differing opinion.  I can’t count the number of times that I have seen people likened to one form of sex offender or another.  Things that people would never say face to face.

It strikes me that people are blogging from their own bedroom and as such feel like they are on “home territory”.  It is as if this gives a license to create or perpetuate wild stereotypes that are painted with broad brushes from the “home ground”.  It also allows a small group to appear quite big and gain momentum.  This is suspect is in much the same way that a football fan tends to be quite quiet in isolation whereas a football crowd tend to say some of the most outrageous things.  To illustrate, on the train to and from the football I was sat with Man Utd fans and we were getting on really well.  There was a bit of banter about the coming match and how we supported different teams.  This was contrasted as we walked to the ground where a big group of Man Utd ‘fans’ were chanting something horrific about the 96 dead at Hillsborough.

For Christians when we add the internet to the mix, a local issue can be circulated worldwide via email and blogs and a small group can arteficially inflate their numbers.  This petition for example started as a Church of Scotland matter and many Scottish people signed it.  If you scroll to the bottom you will see that it has become a hotbed of activity… for US, Brazilian, Chinese, Canadian and Australian petitioners.

The lecture on communication used the diagram I remember from teacher training to illustrate that what you say isn’t always what is heard.

As the transmitter makes the initial point, it is subject to the medium in which it is transmitted.  The music it is set to, the images used within or around the message, even the font used can convey part of the message.  Obviously for the feedback or reply, the message is subject to the exact same principles.

If the internet is the medium that is being used, it inevitably becomes part of the message.  I wonder if a more accurate internet version of the diagram would be:


Perhaps I need to take a break from virtuality for as Giles Fraser and Dave Walker have both pointed out it is becoming “bad for (my) spiritual health”.

Taking the Traditional Somewhere Fresh

A friend of mine from when I used to live in Newcastle sent me a link to a clip from Look North.  I think this is what it means to rethink our church in a modern context to engage with the people where they are.

“Emergence” by Margaret J. Wheatley

People keep looking for how to define emergent church, emerging communities or emergence.  Only yesterday that one of my twitter contacts tweeted “@whoeveritwas how are you defining emerging church?  Keep it under 140 characters plz”.  I just came across an article that defines current emergent culture and the need to operate within it well.

In spite of current ads and slogans, the world doesn’t change one person at a time.  It changes as networks of relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.  This is good news for those of us intent on changing the world and creating a positive futureRather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections.  We don’t need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits.  Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage, and commitment that lead to broad-based change. 

Read the whole article here.  I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Vandal Tendencies

Vandal Tendencies

This was posted to flickr by one of my flickr contacts, ScudMonkey.

Facebook Passion

Someone on facebook just sent me a link to this and it is ace.  Check it out!!

Keep Going

This film has a strange beginning but keep going.  It is all about that entrepreneur we harbour inside but expressed through our art.  I haven’t seen anything so affirmatory in a loooooooong time!

The Essence of Christianity

[The] Essential continuity in Christianity:  continuity of thought about the final significance of Jesus, continuity of a certain consciousness about history, continuity in the use of Scriptures, of bread and wine, of water.  But… these continuities are cloaked with such heavy veils belonging to their environment that Christians of different times and places must often be unrecognisable to others, or indeed themselves, as manifestations of a single phenomenon.

–  Andrew F. Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History:  Studies in the Transmission of Faith, 1996