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Curb Your Dogma!?

October 26, 2007 1 comment

When I was in college in the early 80s, Larry Norman had a t-shirt with a picture of Phydeaux and the words, “Curb Your Dogma!” I loved it. With fresh burns from fire-breathing fundies, this little phrase expressed my sentiment completely: too much dogma, not enough love.

I see these same ideas circulating regularly among various Christian/x-Christians groups who are frustrated by the lack of love they’ve experienced in the church. I still related to the frustration, but I believe it is a bit misdirected. Dogma, properly understood, would not restrict love, but provides a channel through which loves flows.

Chesterton says that without dogma, some solid unshakable ideas, man becomes subject to the trends of the moment.  So the real problem with the loveless fundamentalists, is not dogma, but possibly a lack of understanding how dogma works in our lives.

Reading a recent issue of Touchstone, I saw a great quote by Flannery O’Connor that perfectly captures the role of dogma in the journey of faith. She says, “Dogma is an instrument for penetrating reality…It is one of the functions of the Church to transmit into prophetic vision that good for all time.” The challenge of dogma is the challenge is taking a stand, and then acting on the basis of that stand.

Some folks would like the freedom to turn right and left at the same time. While this might be an interesting theoretical puzzle for quantum mechanics, I don’t live in a theoretical world. I live in a world where I must chose. Those choices open new possibilities while removing others.

Christian dogma is the freedom to choose to live by a set of ideas that happen to be older than the latest best seller that will soon be on the discount shelf for half price (and may never even see a reprint). Instead of a short-time vision, Christian dogma stretches across centuries and has shaped the formation of cultures and civilizations.

O’Connor continues by saying that “Your beliefs will be the light by which you see, but they will not be what you see and they will not be a substitute for seeing.” Over centuries, weak and fallible humans have struggled to see the implications of Christian dogma.

In spite of human flaws and failures, this dogma has reaffirmed a value of human life not tied to status, race or sexuality. We must imagine the struggle of redefining person in a world where landowners alone enjoyed the status of person. Taking Paul’s lead, the Church Fathers wrestled through the implications of their Christian dogma and what it meant for the status of all human beings. Working out their idea, has not always been successful but the world it created is far different from the world where the ideas first emerged.

Each generation of Christians faces this challenge of revisioning their world through the eyes of light that Christian dogma provides. Instead of building fortresses around our ideas, thinking that is what it means to be faithful. We look out upon a world of finance, computers, war, politics, entertainment and more, and we consider how does this dogma enlighten the way, guiding us to be visionaries who do not stumble but are walking (in trust) toward the full light of day.

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The Holy Spirit and Hyperlinks

October 8, 2007 Leave a comment

Oddly enough, after I posted the social computing diagram (that I picked up from Alex at the TechTarget blog), I thought of the Trinity–and the Holy Spirit in particular. The way the Internet has connected ideas (past, present, and even future) provides an analogy for thinking about who the Church Fathers called the “Fellowship of God.”

Many people pause and question the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (three persons, one God).  It doesn’t make sense in a highly individualized world. And in fact, Enlightenment theologians rarely mentioned the Trinity (when compared with the writings of the Fathers).

Coming from the word pneuma, spirit means wind or breath. The wind moves over the surface of the connecting everything. We breathe to live. Breath in-spires or inspirits us. When I speak with another person we share words. The words are sounds carried by breath. Thus we share breath. Some have used the doctrine of the Holy Spirit to speak of a non monist, non dualism–challenging both East and West.

But that’s another story. Back to social computing. The amazing interconnectivity of the web reveals the amazing interconnectivity of humans across the planet (space) and across cultures (time). This provides an analogy for thinking about the Holy Spirit who is present to all particularities at the same time. (Accepting of course that the Triune God is beyond all referents while anticipating all referents.) He is not limited by particularity but can interact with particularity, which is difficult for us to process, so we ask, “How could God hear and answer all prayers at the same time.”

This might begin to help us think about questions like that. The Church Fathers thought about this and used the term perichoresis to discuss it.

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Rush Limbaugh and Viral Communication

May 11, 2007 Leave a comment

Yesterday morning, a Rush Limbaugh billboard was defaced.  A public official made a phone call to the local paper at 8 am; he quipped,  “It looks great. It did my heart good.” By 8:28 am the story was posted on the Balimore Sun website and Drudgereport picked it up shortly after that. The story traveled across the country, causing a flood of calls to the city, and even became a point of humor on Limbaugh’s show.

By 5 pm, the story was one of the top stories in the history of the newspaper’s website. This story is fascinating not for the political nature but the speed of viral information when people feel passionate about that information.

Obviously the viral nature was not anticipated by the local official and no one probably anticipated the fast response. This is pretty amazing how fast information can travel across the nation/globe and generate immediate response.

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We’re paying more attention than you think!

March 31, 2007 Leave a comment

The great fear aabout web readers is that we’re losing any long term attention span. We link from thought to thought like endless web browsing with no goal in mind. Turns out we may not be so distracted after all. According to a recent study by Poytner Institute web news readers actually have a greater attention span than print news readers.

The EyeTrack07 survey by the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism school, found online readers read 77 percent of what they chose to read while broadsheet newspaper readers read an average of 62 percent, and tabloid readers about 57 percent. Read more.

Hat tip to Pajamas Media.

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SXSW 2007

March 15, 2007 Leave a comment



sign o times.jpg

Originally uploaded by dulasfloyd.

My first visit to southby. Cool conference. I plan to post a few observations next week but right now I am getting ready for a retreat.

Let me just say that if you’re interested in the new web world, this is the place go. Lots of exciting discussion on new possibilities coming into view.

I’ll comment more specifically when I have time.

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I command all you trees to fly!

December 2, 2006 Leave a comment

Went Christmas tree shopping and the weirdest thing happened!

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Reviewing Flixster

November 11, 2006 3 comments

Every week I sign up for a new social networking site just to explore their features and see what’s out there. With so many socialnet sites, I lose track of what I’ve joined, and I usually never do much with many of them. I signed up with Flixster on Wednesday and wasn’t sure if I’d use it much or not. Flixster may turn out to be a useful site. It is definitely like Netflix’s Friends feature combined with MySpace. The nice thing is that users can simply rate movies; they don’t have to sign up for a rental plan. This makes it easy to build a larger friends database and connect with a variety of people who like movies. And for someone like me who prefers to hear movie recommendations from other people, I find this very appealing.

If Netflix was smart, they’d follow Flixster lead and offer an expanded version of the Friends feature with no requirement to join. Of course, once people enter into a network and come to visit their movie page, it would be easier to encourage them to sign up for a plan, download a film or buy a film.

Web 2.0 Winners and Losers

September 21, 2006 Leave a comment

Micahel Calore, Wired News Online, recently asked readers for the best and worst of Web 2.0. Yesterday, he posted responses. Worst? MySpace. Sure it’s the most popular, but it’s also the ugliest and doesn’t want to play with other Web 2.0 apps. Here’s the rest of his list:

Best Top 5

Flickr (I likee.)
Odeo (I need to play around podcasting at some point.)
Writely (I personally like ThinkFree better)
del.icio.us (it is just me or is that hard to type?)
NetVibes (This is one of my faves!)

Worst

MySpace
Squidoo
Browzar
Fo.rtuito.us
Friendster

The Great Wall of MySpace

September 13, 2006 5 comments

Trying to keep out open source invaders, MySpace has decided to erect walls around its interface, claiming YouTube, Flickr and others are simply leeches on the MySpace body. Or as Peter Chernin says,

“If you look at virtually any Web 2.0 application, whether its YouTube, whether it’s Flickr, whether it’s Photobucket or any of the next-generation Web applications, almost all of them are really driven off the back of MySpace.”

It appears MySpace is going to make their space less friendly to outside companies by blocking external links in flash widgets and more. They also plan to develop proprietary widgets for video and other services.

As TechCrunch says, “It sounds like MySpace’s owners may not want to play a game where everyone wins.”

Too bad. We’ll see what happens. Maybe MySpace won’t take their ball go home. And if they do, hopefully someone will come and play even better ball than before.

Transforming a Web 1.0 site into Web 2.0

September 13, 2006 Leave a comment

iVillage, once the very example of websites dedicated to women, is now a perfect example of Web 1.0 thinking. Originally built around message boards, the site limits the amount of user input and customization. While the technology can easily be modified, can the administrative thinking behind the site change? can it go from a site with highly managed content to a free-wheeling customer content driven site?

NBC bought iVillage in March, Bob Wright, NBC President, recently announced that they plan to make iVillage the foundational pattern for NBCs digital efforts. Bambi Francisco of MarketWatch offers a wonderful comparison and analysis of MySpace vs iVillage and the challenges ahead for NBC.

MySpace is as close to a democratic virtual world as you can get on the Web, as its own liberating culture and subcultures allow for new talent to rise from the virtual pool of wannabes. To wit: MySpace recently struck a deal with SNOCAP so that the 3 million bands on MySpace can sell their music to their fans directly.

Ten-year-old iVillage, on the other hand, is a first-generation Internet community site, built on an earlier top-down model of what community meant to those of us who were around back in the old days of the Web — message boards. IVillage has 1,000 message boards. But they are so limiting that the only way to demonstrate self-expression, besides writing in all caps and using expletives, is to upload a photo. Additionally, iVillage is a place where news is delivered to you; where editors rule the roost; where the audience learns and takes more than they give, and where the bulk of the content is polished and scrubbed. It’s almost too perfectly maintained compared to the anarchy, mess and grunge of MySpace.

The differences remind me of my walk through the Sausalito, Calif. Art Festival a couple weeks ago. As I made my way through the very clean, organized and civil art show, I couldn’t help but think of my friends who were — at that same time — attending the raucous, eclectic and countercultural art festival called Burning Man. The two environments couldn’t be more different. One liberates our individuality, like MySpace. The other quietly asks us to conform, like iVillage.

 

Link.

 

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