The Digital Church

In a recent online discussion, someone mentioned to me the idea that Christianity goes through a five hundred year trend of re-evaluation and remodeling. I was asked if I thought we might be at one of those once in every five-hundred year events. I’ve often wondered how close we are to another American Great Awakening. The Great Awakenings happen much more frequently.

It is interesting that this has come up in an online discussion, something that didn’t exist during the reformation or the early Great Awakenings. Many of my media oriented friends often talk about the Gutenberg Press as bringing about great changes in terms of education, politics, and religion. Is the Internet bringing about a similar change?

Much of my political involvement has been focused around online activities. The communities I belong to are often around common interests shared online and not around common geography. Yet our church structure is still seems to be primarily oriented around common geography. At the same time, people are looking at how to get Christianity out of the church building and more into the community. How does this relate to the church community being online?

The stuff we post online is much more permanent and searchable that the comments we make face to face or write in letters. If you know where to look, you can find stuff I posted online back in 1982. Recently, a friend died of cancer. I had met him through an online group back in the 90s, and people in the group are still connected online. They are sharing memories and pointing to photos that were shared back in the 90s.

In two different online religious groups, people have asked that personal information either not be shared, or shared with the smallest amount of personal information necessary.

Now I get some of the desire for privacy. When I started considering more deeply what God is calling me to last spring, I was hesitant to talk publicly about it. Part of it was that it seemed God was calling me to a much more intimate relationship, and we are often restrained in talking about intimacy, especially when there is uncertainty about the relationship and vulnerability. Yet at the same time, as we become more sure of the relationship, we proclaim it boldly. I think of my friends posting life events on Facebook, a new relationship, the engagement ring, the marriage, the birth of a child. As I write this, I think of the song we sang in youth group years ago, “I’ll shout it from the mountain top, I want the world to know, the Lord of Love has come to me, I want to pass it on.”

I think of some of the meditations I’ve been reading recently, about our experience of God’s Incarnation, God’s love, God’s presence, happens in the simple parts of life, like appreciating the sunrise on the daily commute, or the kind words of a coworker at the office. How do we experience the presence of God online?

Likewise, I get the idea of telling one’s own story, and not someone else’s story. Yet when we think of our self as part of a community, part of the body of Christ, the line between my story and our story blurs.

When I get into discussions about acceptable behavior online, I often go back to Mark Prensky’s article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. He was writing in the context of education, but I like to think of it more broadly. In the context of this post, I have to wonder what a church of Digital Natives looks like.

Are the people who are more hesitant to share online digital immigrants? Are they the older folks regularly attending churches as opposed to the millennials who have by and large abandoned church? What might a church of the twenty first century, organized around online interests instead of geographical proximity look like?

I’m also interested in how all of this relates to addressing stigmas, confessing sin, and several other topics. I hope to be exploring some of these ideas in more detail over the coming months.

Waiting...

I have several writing ideas in the works, but none of them are quite ready to be posted. I don’t feel I can even talk about some of them yet. Instead, I’m at a place of waiting. Tomorrow, I will know more, and perhaps the day after tomorrow, even more. I’ll get to bed early this evening. Perhaps not as early tomorrow evening, and at some point, I’ll be better rested, more thought out, and able to write more.

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Checkpoint 1/12/16

So, here we are, not quite two weeks into the New Year; a good time to take a moment and see how all those resolutions and goals are going. I’m still managing to do okay with mine. I’ve been getting up earlier, usually around five, but sometimes a little later, and try to spend the first hour of my day in various devotions and meditations. I’ve gotten the Digg Reader set up nicely to let me know when there are new posts on various blogs, and I’ve subscribed to others via email.

I’m also using Digg to track other blogs, mostly from a long time ago. I’m not keeping up with all the blogs as much as I would like, but I’m doing okay.

I’ve been using Workflowy to try and keep track of what I’m doing, and what I want to get done. Over the past two weeks, I’ve changed the way I’m using it a little, but it is going well. My social media activity isn’t as much as I’m shooting for, but Workflowy is keeping me focused on it.

This evening, I closed down a bunch of tab, and saved information about them in Workflowy. Here are some of my thoughts about how they tie together. During my morning mediations, I read Choices we make in telling personal news of a private nature. Our public Vs. Private lives. It is something I struggle with as an online writer, how public can I appropriately be? As a comment, I wrote,

I really appreciate your thoughts about the public and the private. I am thinking a lot about this right now as I explore becoming a priest. God called me privately, as I sat in a public gathering. I am seeking to balance bearing witness and letting my light shine with the needs of those around me for their privacy.

In Water Daily, Kate wrote

"We may not be turning water into wine, but we can transform the ordinary into the sacred just by bringing Jesus along with us and letting his Spirit kick things up a notch. You never know what might happen."

Another post pointed me to Dorotheus of Gaza whom I hope to spend more time reading about.

Three articles concerning the gathering of Anglican church leaders caught my attention

Meanwhile, I’m looking at MOOC MOOC: INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN, CLEARING CONFUSION BETWEEN SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING AND SOCIAL COMMUNICATION DEVELOPMENT and reading Slow Church, which I’ll discuss online.

We’ll see how much time I’ll have to explore some of these. I will miss the State of the Union speech tonight. After a long day at work, I’m too tired for that. I also hope to get a new poem that has been brewing in my head written down soon, but that, too, will have to wait.

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At The End of Another Day

I sit down to confront the blank page, to do my writing exercises, to make sense of the day. It has been a long day. Work, town board meeting, family, against a back drop of the death of David Bowie, the gathering of Anglican Primates, the billion dollar lottery, and trying to stay focused as I approach the start of my discernment committee. Not much more to say.

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The Heaven was Opened

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

As I drove to church this morning, the heavens opened in a different way and the rain poured down. It was a mighty rain, enough rain, so that if it had been a normal temperature, we would have had two feet of snow. Yet if it had been a normal temperature, we wouldn’t have had this much water in the atmosphere in the first place. Climate change, how are we as Christians going to respond to what our species has down to the world?

At church, the priest spoke about heaven opening. We often think of it in terms of those images from great American films, the clouds parting and the visage of an elderly white man, presumably heterosexual, appears and speaks with a booming voice. Yet it seems, more often than not God speaks in a quiet voice before dawn. Perhaps heaven opens more like the curtain of the temple being torn and all people, no matter what thirty eight church leaders might think of them, are drawn closer to God, to God’s love, and called to show God’s love to one another. Perhaps heaven opens with the recognition that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Those of you not following Anglican politics may wonder why I chose the number, thirty eight. I am referring to the leaders of the thirty eight provinces in the Anglican Communion who will be gathering this week in Canterbury.

An article in The Telegraph, puts it this way:

The global Anglican Church faces "dire consequences" unless it enforces a traditionalist line on homosexuality at a crucial summit in Canterbury this week, says a leading cleric taking part.

Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, convenor of Anglican primates in the "global south" – the bulk of the church’s 80 million members, told The Sunday Telegraph unless the issue is resolved there will be “irreparable” splits not just between countries and dioceses but even individual parishes.

There is a lot of positioning taking place leading up to this meeting. Archbishop of Canterbury calls for prayer ahead of Primates Meeting.

Online, friends are sharing prayers from The Primates 2016 Prayer Page. My prayer is that heaven might open over Canterbury and God’s love might be manifest. Manifest equally to Bishop Mouneer Anis., to Retired Bishop Gene Robinson, and especially for young gay people driven to suicide because people fail to show God’s love to them.

I pray that the call to repentance for not loving our gay neighbors as ourselves may be loudly heard by all the primates, and that they move on to address more important issues, like refugees, genocide, and climate change.

An Op-Ed in The Guardian put it this way:

As 38 leaders from Anglican churches around the world prepare to meet in Canterbury next week to decide whether they can bear to go on talking to one another, or whether to formalise their schism over sexuality, it’s worth asking whether they have any larger message for the world. Apparently they do. It’s that genocide is more biblical than sodomy.

The hardline African churches preparing to walk out of next week’s meeting are disproportionately involved in wars and in immense civilian suffering.

I pray that church leaders might not rush past the person attacked by haters in their haste to condemn and exclude people with different views from their own.

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