Archive for January, 2013

Facebook and the Church

January 19, 2013

Did Facebook kill the church? I think Richard Beck does make a good point. The availability of social media makes it possible for Millennials to leave church and think that they have sufficient social connections.  Thought they may say it is hypocrisy, etc. – those are only proximate causes; the real cause is that they have alternatives. The author is fine with that. I’m not.

While I won’t say that social media relationships aren’t real, I will say they are not deep enough to sustain genuine Christian life. There is something essential about a notion of place, about the need for touch and face-to-face communication, for becoming truly part of someone’s life (flaws and all). What kind of mentoring or discipleship is possible? How do you do church discipline (and not the last step, but the preliminary steps) if all you ever see is what someone tweets or puts on their Facebook status? I’m glad for the ways social media allow me to retain some relationship with those who are distant from me and for ways it can sustain and even enrich other kinds of relationships. But it is not, I believe, a sufficient substitute.

One other point. The author suggests:

Most of our Facebook interactions are with people we know, love, and are in daily contact with. Facebook isn’t replacing “real” relationships with “virtual” relationships. It’s simply connecting us to our real friends.

I think that is true. But it neglects one of the parts of community that is critical. I don’t think of all the people in my church as “real friends” or as people I know, love and am in constant contact with. Sometimes they are people I don’t like, disagree with, and would rather avoid. True community (and true Christianity) requires us to share in life together with those I am unlike. Social media has the potential of creating a virtual recapitulation of the homogeneous principle. We hang out with people we like, who share our cultural interests and values, who are of the same social/racial/ethnic/economic/political grouping as we are. That is not the church. And if we just give up and say it’s good enough, we have failed.

One more point. This trend could also be a benefit to the church in unexpected ways. It may be that we can once again focus on being a church if those who are only there for social reasons drop away. Perhaps there will be a remnant of people committed to being a true church with all the ugliness and messiness (and beauty and wonder) that such an existence entails. It may be easier to transform churches that are not filled with people primarily interested in a social club. If so, perhaps Facebook will not only kill the church (the domesticated, American, social church), but will be the means (indirectly) of bringing the church back to life in a different and more glorious way.

Financial Outlook for Universities

January 19, 2013

Moody’s rating service gives the whole sector a negative outlook.  While they can be wrong, and this doesn’t necessarily apply to any individual university – it suggests a stormy future may await some!

Parental Involvement and College Success

January 14, 2013

Not linked in the way you might think. In fact, there is a reverse effect. As the article suggests, it is probably the kind of involvement that is the problem…

Models for Origins

January 14, 2013

Here’s a quick summary of 6 models of understanding origins. Helpful in isolating key differences.

Books to Read

January 13, 2013

End of the year lists have been popping up lately, so here are links to several filled with books I hope to read:

From the NY TImes

Some biblical studies books

Atheist and theist books (plus more)

Books on the most best of lists

A few notable ones (not a 2012 list; Christian books)

Postcolonial mission

Another theology list

Religious biographies

Some books on creeds and confessions

These could keep me busy all year…



Complementarian Reflections

January 13, 2013

I found this discussion from a strongly complementarian perspective quite enlightening. And in this case, you have to read the comments to get the full benefit. The basic point is that once you say you are complementarian, you still have to think about issues like women writing commentaries, teaching biblical languages, and a host of other little issues. Simplest would be to say no to everything (and a few try that), but that doesn’t seem workable for many. This kind of disagreement doesn’t disprove the few (egalitarians have their own disagreements), but it does suggest the simple “I’m just doing what the Bible says” explanation needs a little expansion.


January 13, 2013

Here’s a negative take on the hipster phenomenon. Poses some interesting questions, at least.

Virtue Ethics

January 12, 2013

I find the virtue ethics approach quite attractive. Here’s a brief introduction to some of the relevant material.

Terrible Facebook Jesus Memes

January 12, 2013

I just wanted to preserve this one so I don’t lose it. These are pretty horrible. How the internet can debase the sacred.

Education Theory

January 12, 2013

Here’s a TED talk about education. Some good points to consider.