Blog Archives

Flotsam and jetsam (2/7)

If denominationalism simply denotes a “brand” vying for market share, then let denominationalism fall. But many of us believe denominations can represent fidelity to living traditions of local congregations that care about what Jesus cared about—personal conversion, discipleship, mission and community. Perhaps the denominational era has just begun.

  • David Mills warns against using terms like “prophetic” and “biblical” as ideological rhetoric.

Too many of us substitute being right for being good. Holiness is hard, ideology easy. A small step toward holiness, or at least away from speaking as an ideologue, can be made by avoiding our school or party or movement’s pet words. That can force us to try to make an argument, and that effort can lead us closer to truths we would not see otherwise.

  • Richard Beck is starting a series on church giving, reflecting on his own desire to be more directly involved in the end result of the giving.

I think the real reason goes back to looking for a more direct experience with generosity and hospitality. Wanting to live like Jesus people struggle with the impersonal nature of the collection plate. It just doesn’t feel right.

I think the real reason goes back to looking for a more direct experience with generosity and hospitality. Wanting to live like Jesus people struggle with the impersonal nature of the collection plate. It just doesn’t feel right.

Is social media making us “alone together”?

Are technologies like Facebook and Twitter destroying intimacy and contributing to social and personal breakdown today? That’s what one prominent sociologist, Sherry Tuckle, argues in her recent book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.

As an article in the Guardian noted yesterday, Sherry Turkle’s argument is pretty simple:

Turkle’s thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.

The article goes on to summarize a number of other recent books that have come out in criticism of social media and their impact on us today. But, the article also goes on to explain that this “backlash” against social media has it own critics and that there is much work yet to be done. 

If you’re interested in this, you should also check out Stephen Colbert’s interview with Sherry Tuckle. Colbert, of course, plays devil’s advocate and argues that constant use of social media is a good thing.

That’s multitasking; that’s productivity; that’s how we’re going to beat the Chinese.

Tuckle responds  by arguing that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with social media. She isn’t arguing that we should get rid of social media, but she does think that we have to come let it dominate our lives in some extremely unhealthy ways. So, she calls on us to “take a step back” and reconsider the role social media should play in our everyday life.

And, she makes an argument at one point that any educator should take note of. In response to Colbert’s suggestion that her book is too long and should have been written in 140 characters or less, she responds:

We have lost our respect for the fact that some arguments really do take…the long form.

Now, as one who blogs regularly and has both a Twitter and a Facebook account, I definitely think that social media can be used in a balanced manner that leads to greater communication and creativity. But, I do think we need to be aware of the  problems that an unbalanced use of social media might be causing in society. So, books like this are worth paying attention to, regardless of whether you agree with the alarms being raised.

Stephen Colbert on the theology of Bill O’Reilly – or, why the moon is God

Anyone interested in popular apologetics, (bad) arguments for the existence of God, or good reasons to mock Bill O’Reilly should watch this. In this clip, Stephen Colbert discusses the theology of Bill O’Reilly and does his usual outstanding job of discussing (i.e. making fun of) someone’s ideas.

“Like all great theologies, Bill’s can be boiled down to one sentence: There must be a god, because I don’t know how things work.”

And, he follows that up with the following irrefutable syllogism:

  1. The movement of the tides proves that there is a God (Bill O’Reilly)
  2. The moon controls the tides (astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson)
  3. Therefore, the moon is God (Stephen Colbert)

Who could possibly argue with logic like that?

Flotsam and jetsam (10/13)

 

Stephen Colbert “University” and the rise of for-profit higher education

Stephen Colbert has a great (as usual) piece on for-profit higher education. According to Colbert,

[T]he average college graduate earns twice as much as a person with only a high school degree, which in this current job market works out to…zero dollars.

And, of course, non-profit colleges don’t know anything about making money. So, we need to turn to for-profit institutions. Sure, they may use deceptive advertising and manipulative recruiting practices, but they’re profitable. And, students at online schools can stay in bed and attend classes looking like level 55 death knights. Bonus.

So, Colbert is going to open his own for-profit university, which is “open to anybody with an interent connection and a letter of recommendation from Benjamin Franklin or two letters from Ulysses S. Grant.” He proudly states that Stephen Colbert University is where “we put the U in ‘we make money off you.'”

He goes on to interview Andrew Hacker about his book Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It, who apparently thinks that college is good for teaching kids how to become good “middle class” citizens and to reason with the lower class people when they rise up and attack them with pitchforks.

(By the way, does anyone know if you can embed videos from Comedy Central in a WordPress.com blog?)