Pay attention, the teacher demanded
as one student stared out a window
and another fidgeted endlessly.

On the base
the soldier stood at attention
waiting to be put at ease.

At the coffee shop
young entrepreneurs
showing continuous partial attention
checked their cellphones.

But what do you pay attention to?
Classes? Officers? Details?
What about fears, desires,
messages before the break of day,
and beauty?

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Random Ingress Thoughts

This evening, I’m going heading off to an Ingress event. Ingress is an augmented reality game played on smartphones that I’ve been playing and writing about for quite a while. I haven’t written much about it recently because there hasn’t been much to say. I still play regularly and meet with friends I’ve met through Ingress.

There are things I could say about my strategy, but Ingress is a team sport, and I don’t want to advertise my strategy to people on the other team that might take advantage of knowing how I approach playing. I could talk about various milestones. I’m level 15 out of 16 levels. I’ve walked over 1800 kilometers playing the game. People who play Ingress mostly know this already and it probably doesn’t mean much to those that don’t play Ingress.

One of the things I was very interested in, when I started playing, was the story line of the game, but I never got as caught up in the story as I thought I would. I’ve also mostly chosen to simply play and not get involved in some of the drama. There is a lot of drama between players in the game.

It raises some interesting questions about how you manage the community around a multi-player game. I touch on this in a post on an Ingress related forum the other day, but haven’t really thought out the details. This is probably an area well worth the research, and I wonder if any of my old Internet Research friends are starting to do studies on Ingress.

Science and Awe

Recently, friends share two interesting articles on Facebook. The first, The surprising links between faith and evolution and climate denial — charted analyzes the relationship between different faiths and their views on evolution and climate change. Essentially, there is a close relationship between rejecting evolution and rejecting man’s role in climate change. The author then attempts to connect this with the relationship between religion and science.

At one extreme is the position that science denial is somehow deeply or fundamentally religion’s fault… At the other extreme, meanwhile, is the view that religion has no conflict with science at all. But that can’t be right either: …it is pretty clear that the main motive for evolution denial is, indeed, a perceived conflict with faith

It seems as if he is confusing a “perceived conflict with faith” with religion. Indeed for those who view science as a means of understanding truth, and who believes that all truth comes from God, there is no conflict. The real problem, it seems, is that too few people are talking about how faith and science truly complement each other.

The author goes on to say

The main driver of climate science rejection, however, appears to be a free market ideology — which is tough to characterize as religious in nature.

In fact, I would suggest that a free market ideology runs counter to traditional Christianity, and, I suspect many other beliefs. Free market ideology seems to be based on the love of money, which 1 Timothy says is the root of all kinds of evil.

The second article, Why Do We Experience Awe?, explores the relationship between experiencing awe and the idea that “awe is the ultimate ‘collective’ emotion, for it motivates people to do things that enhance the greater good.”

The article cites interesting research and suggests

We believe that awe deprivation has had a hand in a broad societal shift that has been widely observed over the past 50 years: People have become more individualistic, more self-focused, more materialistic and less connected to others.

Are they suggesting that awe deprivation leads to a free market ideology?

How do address this age of awe deprivation? For me, I’m feeling drawn more towards contemplative prayer and poetry.

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"Here Am I, Send Me"

Yesterday, Kate Heichler shared a blog post, Interviewing Jesus where she invites us to approach the Gospel for next Sunday from a fresh view point, treating it as a story and not as theology.

She asks us to imagine we are Nicodemus. She asks us what we would ask.

It is an interesting exercise, and one that particularly jumps out at me right now, as I am reading Janet Ruffing’s Spiritual Direction – Beyond the Beginnings. The first chapter is about “praying for what we want”. What do we really want? What did Nicodemus want in his interview with Jesus? What do we want today? What do we pray for? What does God want for us? What if God wants something we aren’t ready to give? What if God wants us to sell all that we have, give it to the poor and follow Jesus?

As I read the Gospel, it feels like Nicodemus did not get what he came for. It feels like Nicodemus came trying to better understand God by figuring out how this Rabbi’s teaching fit into a nice clean systematic theology, and Jesus responded challenging Nicodemus to approach God other ways, not just through the intellect.

So, I’m not sure what I would ask Jesus in an interview like Nicodemus had. Instead, the lesson for next week that jumps out at me is the Old Testament lesson, moving from a person of unclean lips, through having my sin blotted out, and ending up at “Here am I, send me”.

I wonder what it was like for Isaiah. After his marvelous vision, did he wonder if it was real, or whether he just imagined it? Did the vision start to fade as he went about his daily tasks afterwards? And when he said, “Here am I, send me!” Did he have second thoughts? What did he desire? Was he afraid of what it would be like ‘being sent’? And how long did he have to wait between saying, “Here am I” and getting a clear sense of what he was being sent to do, when and where, and how close was the actual sending to his initial desires.

Bringing it back to the present, how many of these thoughts and concerns play out in each of our daily lives, if listen closely?

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#rhizo15 Expanding the discussion

In her blog post, Rewilding the rhizome. Angela Brown writes about leaving a note in a library copy of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus asking,

“What if you could find a shared exploration … “

She points to #rhizo15 and the shared exploration of A Thousand Plateaus.

Concurrent with this, Autumm Caines, in her blog post, The Living Artifact: An Open Letter/Invitation/Call for Help to the #rhizo15 Community to an open, connected, rhizomatic discussion of Jose Antonio Bowen’s Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom will Improve Student Learning.

Meanwhile, I’m reading Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss and Janet Ruffings’s Spiritual Direction: Beyond the Beginnings. Both are thought provoking books, and I wonder about the hashtag for the ongoing discussion of these books.

Is there a website to connect with others that are currently reading, and wanting to discuss, certain thought provoking books? Are there easy ways to find hashtags, Facebook groups, Google Groups, or other online fora to discuss these books? If not, what would it take to start such a site?

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