Archives For Social media

Here is a ‘note to self’ recently rediscovered. I wrote this back in 2011. Long before I’d even considered blogging as a means to connect, share, process, and improve on conclusions and thoughts I’d come to through my undergraduate days.

I’ll never know the privilege of having pride in my father; having a father’s loving advice, or an extended family, on my side, that through mutual reciprocity, enriches my own.

What was broken, is broken and the residue of the struggle to move beyond that remains. This has hindered me having confidence in myself, others, even in having hope for a future.

But through it, I have come to know and acknowledge that God, who in Jesus Christ, redeems even the chiefest of sinners, is greater than all this. Greater than words spoken in order to shame and therefore control.

Evident through Word & impossible changes becoming possible, I’ve seen God choose to step in and move me beyond it; to not let my past define my future.

Don’t let the world, friends, enemies or the past define you. God lives & speaks the same different word every time.

As the Apostle to the Gentile;the foreigner; the alien says, God in His freedom sets us up for freedom and empowers us to cry out ‘Abba Father’ (Romans 8 & 12); recognizing that God delivers on His promise to be the Father of the fatherless.

As the infamous African-American theologian, James Cone once said, ‘we are more than what has been defined for us by broken homes, sin and fatherlessness’ (Cone, p.11) [i]

Posting items and words like this on the internet can be treacherous. I recall Jesus’ wisdom when he talks about “giving to the dogs what is sacred and casting pearls before swine” (Mathew 7:6). Even with the context explained, it’s possibly to misuse my words here. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times in the past, social media, when it comes to community, isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. It’s an ongoing conversation, that can bolster community, but it can never truly replace community; and in it’s current form, will only ever remain so.

[For more of my thoughts on this check out: Fake News Sells: Unfriending Ersatz Community ]

I say these things with confidence because community is best displayed by Christianity, or at least it should be. This is because Christianity is incarnational – where Word meets flesh; where Word meets both deed and attitude. It’s something, or rather, someone, who comes to us; not just pointing to the way, but making a way. God sets this standard and empowers it in Jesus Christ.

I was reminded of this the other day when I read these words from African-American, civil rights campaigner, John M. Perkins’ in his new book, ‘Dream With Me‘:

“I believe the human dimension of God;s work is very important. It’s not that He couldn’t accomplish anything He wanted to do without us, He chooses to [work] with human vessels.We are not the main force at work, yet we are involved. We are present. God uses us in one another’s lives.’ (Perkins, p.96)[ii]

Perkins follows this up with,

‘At a recent conference some of the young people I had met tried to convince me that they didn’t really need a preacher. They’re frustrated with traditional church leadership, [then they appealed to] the priesthood of all believers, which is all well and good. That they prefer a virtual church over a traditional one. I told them, “That’s going to be weak, because it’s going to miss the incarnation [the embodiment of Christ; Word made flesh]. It will not have a human touch (Hebrews 10:24-25).The active presence of other believers contributes to God’s work within us. Again, it’s that God needs us to complete what He is doing – but He allows that human dimension to be a part of His redemptive work.’ (Perkins, p.97)[iii]

Perkins is right. If we don’t speak for fear of the swine or throwing what is sacred to the dogs, then our silence may be motivated by fear, not wisdom.

I’m all for responsible vulnerability; the need to refine what we’re going to say, and then saying that with precision, so as to both guard our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). However, we also put on the ‘Armor of Light (Jesus Christ), casting off the works of darkness’ (Romans 13:12); ‘building up and encouraging one another, through endurance and the scriptures, so that we might have hope’ (Romans 15:2).

Posts like these display vulnerability, which is why some, such as Brene Brown, might consider it also an act of extraordinary courage.

Whether or not these are unwise or an act of extraordinary courage, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the raw truth contained it, and the Good News I wish to proclaim through it.

 


Sources:

[i] Cone, J. 1975 God Of the Oppressed, Orbis Books (1997 ed.) p.11

[ii] Perkins, J.M. 2017 Dream With Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win, Baker Publishing Group

[iii] Ibid, 2017

No writer goes without giving a tongue-in-cheek, somewhat hyperbolic critique of the circles in which they sometimes find themselves. Here’s mine.


92dgypsir9k-raphael-koh_bw_unsplash

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We share pictures of books
Show off our reading pace so everyone looks.

Pat ourselves on the back for having beaten our friends to it,
Be the first to blog, tweet, and hope the bubble applies “likes” to it.

We quit our news feeds to quiet the noise.
Yet feed news feeds with the sound of our own voice.

It’s all supply and demand you see,
I post my thing and demand that you read.

Yes, we like those we think can, or may, or will, advance our career.
And only add those who can pad our stats to show off our appeal.

Heaven help the soul who seeks to participate.
This is a “community” that doesn’t reciprocate.

We’ll sit in silence and execute our higher responses
While pushing our own intellectual repertoire up your noses.

If you speak outside the paradigm, you can be sure to be hated.
That, though, is never openly stated.

Not publicly of course,
fans, followers and friends might just as openly disendorse us.

It would impact our numbers; steal our thunder.

Outdo, be outone, but don’t overdo the outdo, or your membership is done.

Don’t rock the boat, cause these inflated egos don’t float.

Simply, don’t! Not even with quotes.

Our prime pedestals should appear dressed prim and proper,
Should be camera ready, because we’re the only real show stoppers.

If you serve with ambition and don’t provoke our progressive suspicions,
and as long as your not seen as competition,
you’ll fit in with this cult of neo-Gnosticism.

Ode to the wall of virtual snobs.

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(©RL2016)

Image: Raphael Koh

‘Proximity & activity don’t always equal connectivity’ – Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited, p.43

candle-simple-framed

Defending against the hits

                Who has any real-time for this?

From the aggressors who blubber about niceties,

comes spiteful splattering subtleties.

               mud thrown over the walled city of Notifications,

               to distract plausible argument with great ironic howls of  “fallacy.”

Thus ends the great claims of integrity, from those who,

at the push of a button,

              hashtag their “internet solidarity.”

Intoxicating red bubbles demand you click

               and then engage with their foul spit.

To the odorous sentiment of superiority

           there is little antidote to its insanity

Reasoned argument is no guarantee

            and qualifications have zero sway in it,

So goes the condemnation of your disagreement

Only policy sellers; club dwellers with paid membership are “free.”

    Blindfolds are complimentary.

      Comments of support a necessity.

        Popularity a commodity;

           Victims to pounce on are compulsory.

                Yet…

                 truth, although reduced in its capacity,

                 and so forced into a quiet solemnity,

                 will have its ideological chains eroded by reality.

Like the wax of a burning candle, Light will dissolve each man-made chain into obscurity.


1 Timothy 6:3-5 & 20-21

(RL2016)

Blog Post 23rd May 2016

 

There’s a whole lotta smoke n’ mirrors commentary and appearances out there.

Most of which contains very little substance or decisive action. May we be set free from the cult of self. May our words, deeds and attitudes speak more about Jesus Christ; about the way to fullness of life, than the appearances or people pleasing that fuels likes, shares and comments; all things that ultimately only serve to excessively pad wallets and entertain egos.

As James puts it:

‘…the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.’ (James 1:25,ESV)

Allow no double talk.

                   Be real.

          Entertain no vain glory.

                   Buy real.

                  Confront all imitations.

                   Live real.

                           Apply gratitude and prayer.

                   Live well.


Image is my own.

News Feed Greed

May 2, 2016 — 2 Comments

Relentless unattainable methods

The seductive ebb and flow of news feeds

Constant keyboard access

Instant intimate access to individuals

The erroneous pathway of statistics,

Constantly competing for existence,

Trampling compliments, community and meaningfulness

Read this,

        devour that,

follow this,

         follow that,

Lose this,

        win that,

                Less effort,

                more friends,

                gain reward.

                                   More effort,

                                   less friends,

                                   get ignored

Before the screen,

Darken its twisted sympathies

Call out its force fed empathy

Look up when heads are down

Outdo the machine of false appearances

                                    Be real,

                                    lose appeal,

                                    save your soul.

‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man [or woman], to gain the whole world and forfeit his [or her own] life?’ (Jesus Christ, Mark.8:34-36, ESV)


(RL2016)

facade of compassion 2Positive advances in communications technology drive the functionality of information delivery like a viaduct.

Information is carried along at a fast pace. Which means that we’ve found ourselves living in an era of information deluge. Words, thoughts and opinions rain down on us from everywhere.

In this downpour, writers can be too easily tempted to reach for the fastest way to keep people reading their work.However, putting something together that’s worth a reader’s time, takes time.

In this environment, writing can be hard. Gimmicks and stunts; shock and awe, are all potential roads writers can go down.Simply because time poor people need fast facts, fast entertainment and fast news.

Selling drama buys sympathy, or in this day and age, at least a like, share or a twenty-four hour hashtag trend, triggered by a bubbly questionable logic that says, “like, wow! hashtag riots really do make a difference.”

It’s safe to say that we now live in a tabloid age. Words are thrown like darts at constructed targets of opportunity. For instance, people comment in ways they never would if the conversation they were part of was held face to face in a physical public forum. We would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have that one “friend” on social media, who always seems to take their own level of intelligence more seriously than others.

Think of the beauty and vibrancy of the democratic process presently underway in America. To an Australian, it’s portrayed as a circus. Partly because, no doubt, some of it is. What’s not portrayed is the fact that most of this circus is concocted. It’s not real.

As a result, the vibrancy of the American democratic process is overlooked. The beauty of it is pushed to the sidelines. For sure, the system is in need of reform. But guess what? Review and reforms are part of adult life. They’re also a chief reason for why democracies still exist.

For the most part, the gratitude that should stem from an awareness of what we still have, is subsumed by a deep anxiety about what we’re told the other side wants to take from us.  As a consequence, thankfulness for having such responsible freedoms and a responsibility to uphold those responsible freedoms becomes pretty much non-existent. Apathy and abdication from the democratic process soon follows. If the people aren’t interested in Governments, Governments will govern outside the interests of the people.

Like writing, good democracy takes time and effort. Participation in a physical public forum requires planning. It involves preparing beforehand what you are going to ask, say or discuss. Unlike the psuedoisms of the virtual realm, decorum and respect would trump temptation to make off the cuff comments, concocted to perform a duty, not to the community involved in that forum, but to the ego of the person commenting.

Their words can penetrate with no real benefit, but to that of the owner of the ego. Who is, sadly, sometimes even celebrated by followers or friends who also enjoyed seeing a target hit by a cheap shot. As a result, words are reduced to noise. This noise is amplified by the commerce of Social Media and the superficial, transactional relationships upheld by it. Which is why the mechanic [for the sake of the bottom line] is programmed to sell an idea of community as if it’s the real thing.

This is something foreseen in the lamentations of Jean Bethke Elshtain[i], who, not without her critics, acknowledged in 1995 and later, 2012, that the trajectory of technology, empowers mobs via technology, to hinder participation in the democratic process.  For Elshtain, the inevitable outcome is the decline of democratic debate, authentic participation and therefore democracy. Of which there now exists numerous examples.

Elshtain was right to call this out. Wading through the density of information and navigating the sometimes manipulative statements, images, etc. Sometimes feels like wading through stagnating bloated rivers. The raft people climb onto in order to escape these rising waters, however, is dangerously overloaded on one-side.

As Elshtain noted,

‘we often hear more about the folly of the right, than we do of the left.’[ii]

Cynicism abounds. Responsible commentary is paralyzed by the attraction of sensationalism. Under the dark smile of Machiavellian logic, certain elements, through a facade of compassion seek dominance, if not total rule. Fear of offense and that fear (come commodity), is utilized by the few to control the many.

We can begin to fix this by seeing that our reliance on technology cannot replace the need for careful comment and face to face interaction. Being physically present and visible in the democratic forum upholds the democratic forum.  It is the rock of genuine relationship. All of which requires communication – the respect for representation, convention, conversation, and planning; elements that not only contribute to the idea of democracy, but are part of the very fabric of real democracy.

Democracy takes time. It means wading through the hard stuff. Asking the difficult questions and then allowing room for those questions to be answered.  If the way forward for democracy is to be taken seriously, it begins with deep gratitude, not an unruly anxiety.

As an American friend said to me a few weeks ago:

 “Well, at least we still get to vote on something.”

Source:

[i] Elshtain, J.B, 1995 Democracy on trial, (Amazon)

[ii] State of Democracy: Maxwell School of Syracuse University Lecture 2012 (Source)

See also, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s, 1978, Harvard Speech {Transcript available here: American Rhetoric}