Archive - Aug 31, 2017


Seminary Thoughts: What is acceptable?

This morning, I try to settle into a new pattern of being an online seminary student, a husband, father, and working full time. I read the online Morning Prayer that is shared by my classmates at CDSP as I start to connect with my community.

The opening verse is one of my favorites,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my
redeemer. Psalm 19:14

It makes me think of a post I saw on Facebook yesterday,

just lost a friend over a post ,
unreal , doesn't anyone have thick skin ?

My Facebook friend has a coarse racism and misogynist streak in his posts, and I wondered if he lost the friend, not because lost friend had too thin a skin, but because my Facebook friend had too coarse a mouth. It felt to me like this Facebook friend was blaming the victim. All his other friends jumped in and called the lost friend all kinds of vile things. I decided that this was not a place to engage right now.

Another Facebook friend posted,

Apologies for the rant, but we just walked around our campground and witnessed a dad ripping into his wife and son. Yelling, swearing, pure short fuse anger issues. I don't know what happened earlier today, but I promise the most recent offense was incredibly mild, and dad's response was inappropriate. His wife was embarrassed that we heard, but nothing (at least in this scenario) was any ounce her fault. I was stuck explaining to my kid, again, how it's not right to treat ANYONE like that.

What is the role of media, whether it be social media or news media, in establishing social norms? How have our norms about acceptable speech shifted as a result of digital media?

For News and Religion class, I’ve been reading Readings on Religion as News, edited by Judith M. Buddenbaum and Debra L. Mason. The introduction talks about religion and journalism this way (page xvii)

from the Puritans to the Promise Keepers, religious people have left their mark on American culture and the continue to do so. And the press has been there, at every step along the way, spreading religious inspired beliefs and behaviors throughout the country and policing the boundary between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” forms of religiosity.

I think about the coverage in the news media of Houston, Hurricane Harvey, and Lakewood Church. I think of social media and how we share stories in acceptable or unacceptable ways.

In Women’s Bible Commentary by Carol Newsome, et al., there is a section on how we interpret the Bible and how interpretations shape us and shape other interpretations: (Page 34 of the Google Book version)

Regardless of the original intent of such passages, the history of their interpretation has included some very hurtful readings

The news media and social media can help us navigate the boundary between the “acceptable” and the “unacceptable”. It can also repeat hurtful interpretations and call us to challenge current understandings of what is acceptable in the Lord sight.