Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Dare not to share

Posted on: October 18th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

 

 

By Meghan Murphy-Gill

 

Social media is great for keeping in touch, but some moments are more meaningful when experienced offline.

This summer I became well acquainted with the value of white noise. I quickly learned there’s nothing worse than a quiet house when you have a brand-new baby. So, we run fans. PBS is constantly playing on our TV. We never wait to run the dishwasher, and we encourage normal talking when we have visitors.

The noisier our house, the better. This works out to our advantage: When our son won’t settle down in the late afternoon (I now fully understand the term “witching hour”), we meet with friends at our favorite bar for a beer and a burger, where we encounter several other in-the-know couples with young children. The din of conversation and clatter of plates and glasses does little to wake our sleeping kids. I’m convinced my son gets his best sleep in these situations. Now if only I could figure out how to achieve such restfulness for myself.

The sight of my sleeping child is as close as I’ve come to bliss in these first few months. In these moments, I occasionally reach for my phone to snap a photo or capture him on video. The sound of his baby snore will surely make my friends laugh. Certainly, my parents and in-laws will want to see their grandson’s sweet face as he learns to giggle.

Last year, The Telegraph reported that parents who upload photos of their newborns to social media do so on average within 57.9 minutes of birth. That was according to a poll by a company that helps parents share photos digitally and in print. We waited hours, but shared a photo on the day of our son’s birth nonetheless. If you spend any time on Facebook, you know that baby photos make up a large percentage of the regularly updated content, so much so that there are apps for those who wish not to see their acquaintances’ kids so regularly.

Modern modes of communication make sharing our lives extraordinarily simple. There is Facebook, yes, but also Twitter, text messages, Instagram, and FaceTime. I remember being excited by free long-distance calls when I first got a cell phone in 2002. Nearly a decade and a half later, we introduced our baby to his aunts and uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents via video chat. We announced his arrival to our friends—some of whom we last saw when we were small children ourselves—on Facebook. My sister and I regularly exchange pictures of our sons via text messages. For family who’ve chosen to avoid smartphones, I turn to e-mail for updates and photos. In a technological twist of irony, this has become the modern “snail mail.”

Yet somehow all this sharing isn’t enough. When my husband was on parental leave, his coworkers wanted to know why they hadn’t seen more pictures of our new arrival. Family members regularly ask me why I’m not posting more on Facebook, despite the fact that I’ve already eased up on the “no social media” rule I’d instituted before the baby arrived. Admittedly, it’s hard not to share more; the effect of 100 “likes” on a photo of our little boy is intoxicating and addictive. And when I am experiencing one of life’s most beautiful offerings, why wouldn’t I want to tell everyone I know about it?

The reason? Sure, I’m wary of the long-term results of publicly documenting my son’s life. I’d rather he not become an amalgamation of data to a nameless, faceless marketing machine. Much of that seems inevitable to some extent, however, for anyone who wants to participate in modern life.

The reason is more because the constant concern for documenting and sharing can prevent my active presence in the moments that matter most. When my son offered us his first smiles, his dad and I were so captivated that neither of us thought to grab a camera. After I told my sister-in-law that he’d started smiling, she asked if we took any photos. “Nope,” I responded. “We were too busy taking in the experience.” There will be more smiles to share but those very first ones belong just to us, our little family of three.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the value of social media. I’ve received sincere notes of congratulations on the birth of my son from people who otherwise would be faint memories. I also hope close friends and family have the opportunity to share in my son’s life.

What bothers me most about the constant presence of social media is just how noisy it is. Like with the white noise that can coax a baby into sound sleep, the perpetual din of social media can lull us into complacency. Advertisements show up alongside prayer requests, jokes, and vacation photos. You can scroll from some spectacular and meaningful personal revelation or beautiful photo of an old friend’s daughter to a tongue-in-cheek BuzzFeed quiz or a politically charged rant by someone you knew in high school. There’s no differentiating the kinds of things people share. Messages are easily forgotten. Communication becomes passive.

It just doesn’t matter to me whether every person from my social circle has unlimited access to those moments. By limiting how much social sharing I do (while not avoiding it entirely), it’s easier to be fully present in my new son’s life as well as in my husband’s. We can enjoy family moments without concern for how they translate to film and video. And thanks to a private photo stream, our extended family gets more access than an old high school friend. By being more intentional about how we use social media—and keeping it personal—we’ve managed to keep the way we communicate more meaningful, something especially important in these earliest months of our son’s life.

This article appeared in the October 2014 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 79, No. 10, pages 40-41).

Image: Flickr cc by David Camerer

 

Meghan Murphy-Gill is a writer living in Chicago.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, October 17, 2014

 

Watch-wearing and pew-sitting

Posted on: September 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

watch and pewThere have been many, many, many blogs and articles written attempting to define why the younger generation (known as ‘millennials’) are leaving the institutional church. Most of these articles attempt to tackle some point of church practice, or a perceived rigidity in current religiosity, while suggesting that Millennials have a different temperament regarding spirituality and religious practice. Millennials, it is argued, contain certain defining characteristics that make the current practices of mainline churches unattractive. It’s not that what the church is doing is wrong per se, it’s just that millennials think and act differently than the generations that have gone before them.

Case in point: millennials do not wear watches.

I’m not making this up. The lack of watch-wearing amongst millennials is the classic example given when describing this generation. It is stated over and over again, almost as if it is a point of scientific fact. Leonard Sweet makes this claim in his popular book Viral: How Social networking is poised to ignite revival – although he uses the language of “Googler” instead of ‘millennial”. Sweet writes “One way you can tell Gutenbergs from Googlers? Check their wrists. Googlers rarely wear a watch.” (pg. 135) Watches, apparently like sitting on hard wooden pews, are things of the past and shunned by this more tech-savvy and less traditional generation. This fact is seen as essential to any understanding of this generation, particularly when attempting to understand their lack of church attendance, or the need to enact new models for ministry. Thus, we in the church have had to think our way through a very curious relationship between the absence of watches and the lack of church attendance. Watch wearing and pew sitting are apparently intimately connected.

watchI had to laugh, then, when I saw a promoted post on Facebook which advertised one of the newest advances in the realm of mobile technology. With a tagline that read “Tired of constantly checking your phone?” the company known as “Pebble” advertised its latest product . . . a watch! Sure it may have the possibility to connect with Facebook and read text messages, but let’s be honest here: it’s a watch. It has a face which is able to display time; it has a strap which wraps around one’s wrist. It’s a watch, a fancy shamncy watch. Apparently, that which was exalted as the go-to example of what it meant to be a millennial is now seen as a nuisance.

Screenshot taken from Apple's website

This advertisement, however, promoted on Facebook, is not a random post from a random company trying to repurpose an old idea. The development of a mobile device that you strap to your wrist is one of newest things to hit the mobile market. Apple is launching its own version of this very idea in early 2015. The “iwatch” will hit the market, and no doubt the watch-less generation will become a watch-wearing generation and then all our definitions of who is who will come crashing down.

It may seem trite, to make such a big deal about the resurgence of watch wearing, but it is a big deal. The fact is, for years there has been a push to engage in ‘new’ ministries under the rhetoric that millennials are fundamentally ‘different’ than previous generations. There is truth, in part, to this statement, and by no means do I advocate a church which does not connect to the current culture. However, the question now is, if ministries in the church were based on certain assumptions about millennials–exemplified through the lack of watch-wearing–what does it mean for the ‘new models’ of ministry if such assumptions are no longer valid?

There is a common saying that states “Everything old is new again”, and we see this truth in other areas of our lives. We see it in the fashion industry when old looks come back in style; Movie houses launch reboots and prequels with a varying degree of success; Instead of getting smaller, cell phone makers now strive to produce the largest phone; and apparently watches are again becoming cool.

Perhaps we need to reclaim this truth as it relates to our church life. Instead of thinking about the newest trend to which the church must capitalize, perhaps we need to dive in to some of the old, time-honoured practices that have informed the church’s worship for centuries. I wonder if striving to squeeze ourselves into the jam-packed schedules of today’s family has meant that we have forsaken some ancient practices like sitting in silence and meditation. Have we sought too much to accommodate the current ‘diminishing attention span’ that we have drifted into a style of church which moves frenetically from one thing to the next without any time to be quiet or still? Have we become so enamoured with having a ‘contemporary’ sound to our musicality that we effectively drown out the worship that emanates from the heart and voice of our congregations?

The danger in always attempting to address the ‘newest’ trend or concept is that we inadvertently find ourselves deleting some of our oldest spiritual practices from current christian spirituality. Do we know, for example, how to meditate on God’s word day and night? Do we understand what it means to be still in the presence of the Lord? How do we pray without ceasing? Do we know how to come to God and listen and learn the fear of the Lord? (Psalm 34:1). If the life of our communities are never given to such things, how will Christians today ever learn or develop such holy and faith enriching habits?

I am sure there are many reasons why millennials, and others, are choosing to leave the church. And, I am sure that blogs written before this one, and better than this one, will have useful insights into that issue. I am simply suggesting that we may want to stop and consider that people may be leaving the church not because it is ‘too old’, but because we have thrown too much at it.  Amid all the sounds, screens and moving parts of our church life today, have lost that basic premise of coming together to worship our Lord?

If millennials can once again strap watches to their wrists, then maybe we don’t need the newest thing; Maybe we need the oldest.

What are some of the ‘old practices’ that the church has lost? Are there other ‘old traditions’ that are making a resurgence in contemporary churches today?

Kyle Norman

About Kyle Norman

I am a Priest in the Diocese of Calgary, serving the wonderful people of Holy Cross, Calgary. I watch reality television, I drink Starbucks coffee, and I read celebrity gossip columns. I am also a magician and often use magic tricks to teach the children at church the lessons of the Bible. I believe that God is present in the intricacy of our lives, and thus I believe that Pop Culture can provide intriguing lessons, examples, and challenges for our lives of faith. Connect with Kyle on

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The Community, Weekly update from The Community, September 19, 2014

Churches, Worshipers Use Web to Connect With Faith

Posted on: September 16th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

Praying the Rosary involves three simultaneous actions, says Catholic Kathryn Reklis, assistant professor of Modern Protestant Theology at Fordham University. “You pray repetitively, while meditating on something that is not explicitly the words of your prayer, while your hands do something else.” Can you do that online? asks Reklis. “Sure! There are many mobile apps that offer aids for praying the Rosary,” and “as our handheld devices become more thoroughly integrated into our lives, tapping a screen may not be so different than shifting a bead in the hand.”

Digital prayer apps and websites, she says, offer visual and aural dimensions of contemplative prayer that can help lift us out of the “verbal dominant” assumptions about prayer.

Lerone A. Martin, assistant professor of American religious hstory and culture at Eden Theological Seminary, points to Prayrlist, a social media platform that allows users to learn instantly of the prayer requests of other users, and to indicate that the request has been received, heard and prayed over. “The effect of Prayrlist and other social media on the tenor and nature of our prayers and spiritual practices is a hotly debated topic,” he says. “Nevertheless, Prayrlist does remind me of an old adage often repeated in the faith community of my youth: ‘Prayer knows no distance!’“

These and other reflections are included in a six-part blog series, Prayer and Social Media, archived as a downloadable PDF file on the website of The New Media Project , whose purpose is in part to help pastors and religious leaders employ new media to strengthen faith communities. For more reflection on prayer and the prayer life, read our feature article, “Meeting God in Holy Silence.” You might also want to explore the articles and links on our Spiritual Practices page, located under the Congregations heading.

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Insights Into Religion, August 14, 2014

Using Technology to Support Congregational Goals

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

What is the least technology you need to achieve the most for your congregation? How do you decide which technological advances to integrate and which to pass by? Using the latest in church management software to illustrate, this article, one of the many technology resources offered by the Center for Congregations, makes the point that technology alone will not revolutionize a congregation.
But clearly delineated processes supported by technology can.
Spark leadership-level discussions on the proper role and limits of technology, and stimulate a vision of how your congregation can transform its interaction with members and outsiders through strategic use of technology. The Center for Congregations strengthens Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities. The Center shares its learning with a national audience. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Insights into Religion, August 21, 2014

Using Technology to Support Congregational Goals (Resources)

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

 

Resources

Using Technology to Support Congregational Goals

What is the least technology you need to achieve the most for your congregation? How do you decide which technological advances to integrate and which to pass by? Using the latest in church management software to illustrate, this article, one of the many technology resources offered by the Center for Congregations, makes the point that technology alone will not revolutionize a congregation.

But clearly delineated processes supported by technology can.

Spark leadership-level discussions on the proper role and limits of technology, and stimulate a vision of how your congregation can transform its interaction with members and outsiders through strategic use of technology. The Center for Congregations strengthens Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities. The Center shares its learning with a national audience.

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Insights into Religion e-newsletter, August 21, 2014

Figuring out how to mourn in the Age of Skype

Posted on: July 13th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

 

Figuring out how to mourn in the Age of Skype


Soon after returning to the United States from Cambridge University, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig learned by email and Twitter that her instructor had died in a car accident. Back in the UK, people were as grief stricken as she was, but she couldn’t see or hear or touch them — all important parts of traditional Christian mourning. At the Atlantic, she asks, do religious traditions still provide a good map for grieving?

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity,  Faith & Leadership,  News & Ideas,  July 11, 2014

Resources for church communications in the digital age

Posted on: May 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

 

Christian leaders today have to grapple with one of the most profoundly disruptive trends in the world: the digital revolution. Faith & Leadership offers resources to help with communications — online, in traditional media, in marketing, and within organizations. Read more »

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Faith & Leadership, May 20, 2014

 

 

Social Media Sunday: June 29, 2014

Posted on: May 16th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

 

 

 

Social Media Sunday: June 20, 2014

Social Media Sunday. It’s a thing. Or at least it could be, this June, in your parish. Read more…

 

 

 

 

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Weekly update from The Community, May 16, 2014

 

Telling the good news, in the media

Posted on: May 13th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

 

 

Telling the good news, in the media

It isn’t easy for a church or other Christian organization to get media coverage (unless something has gone wrong). But it is possible, with these 10 tips from two church communications consultants.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas,  April 29, 2014

 

 

The nun who got addicted to Twitter

Posted on: April 18th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers

 

The nun who got addicted to Twitter

The Atlantic: Can evangelization work on social media?

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, April 10, 2014