Archive for category technology
As anyone who knows a teen or tween can attest, media are among the most powerful forces in young people’s lives today. Eight-to-eighteen-year-olds spend more time with media than in any other activity besides (maybe) sleeping — an average of more than 7 1/2 hours a day, seven days a week. The TV shows they watch, video games they play, songs they listen to, books they read and websites they visit are an enormous part of their lives, offering a constant stream of messages about families, peers, relationships, gender roles, sex, violence, food, values, clothes, an abundance of other topics too long to list.
Mohler notes the following:
. . . .And it’s not just that these kids are devoting 7 1/2 hours of their daily lives to media immersion — their multitasking means that they somehow consume nearly 11 hours of media content in that 7 1/2 hours of time. Over the last ten years, young people have increased their consumption and use of every type of media with one exception — reading. As the researchers make clear, the vast increase in the amount of time teenagers are able to access the media is due almost entirely to the fact that their mobile phones allow an online life that can be carried in the pocket (and in far too many cases, taken to bed). “The mobile and online media revolutions have arrived in the lives — and the pockets — of American youth,” notes the report. “Try waking a teenager in the morning, and the odds are good you’ll find a cell phone tucked under their pillow — the last thing they touch before falling asleep and the first thing they reach for upon waking.” Read the rest of this entry »
My good friends Dan Kent and Neil Berget, the theological mastermind and technological guru behind the creation of the Web of Theology, have graciously invited me in on the advancement and, most importantly, the marketing of this great tool. I am hoping to use my network of pastors, professors and blogging associates to spread the word more widely and begin to see folks trying out and using the WOT.
It has been fun to watch this project develop over the years. A little personal history. My wife Keri had Dan as her professor at Bethel for her Intro to Theology class her freshman year back in ’03. In the spring of that year Keri and I started dating. Lo, and behold, one of the first “dates” we had began with me, her nerdy seminary guy-friend, helping her complete her paper-version of Dan’s WOT. No kidding!
And, like any theology geek looking for a future bride, I wasn’t merely trying to score a couple points by helping her with her homework. I was very interested in the results and curious to see how Keri’s theological views lined up with my own! Keri had her list of qualities she demanded in a guy — he couldn’t throw a baseball like a girl, he had to love Jesus and look good in a cowboy hat. Don’t ask. My list was shorter: she had to love God and not be a Calvinist. Ok, I’m joking…sort of. (Sorry, Calvinist ladies. You never had a chance — unless God would’ve predetermined it. :P)
All kidding aside, it was a fun and encouraging to get a window (on the first date) into my wife’s core views of God, her understanding of God’s relationship with human beings and our similarities and differences. You might say, quite literally, we are “a match made in Heaven.” Well, years later Dan has been laboring to make the WOT available to all of us for only $5.
So, since this already sounds a lot like an eHarmony commercial and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, let me encourage you all pull aside your sweetheart Feb. 14, dim the lights and pour a glass, and then go to the Web of Theology to see how theologically compatible you really are. =)
Today, Scot McKnight posted a review of the WOT at Jesus Creed blog read by a vast readership of pastors, teachers and Christian laity. Hopefully this helps get the word out even more.
Have you taken it yet? TRY IT
So far I have resisted the alluring convenience of the Amazon Kindle. I consider myself a book “purist” and am in love with the feel, look, smell and aesthetic beauty of physical books in my hands and on my book shelves. Part of me says, “I love technological advancement in almost every arena, but please don’t mess with my books.” As I’ve shared elsewhere, book-filled studies and old musty libraries are my “happy place.”
Yet, Albert Mohler — another book-lover — makes a good case for the supplemental value of the Kindle. Below are some of his considerations. What do you think of the Kindle?
The digital revolution has reached the world of books, and things are forever changed. I was an early adopter of the Kindle, Amazon.com’s almost iconic electronic reader. My first Kindle was bought soon after the technology became available. I purchased a few books and intended the Kindle to operate as a supplement to my library of printed books. I did not expect to spend much time with it, but I saw the advantage of instantly-available books that could be carried in my briefcase by the hundreds. Read the rest of this entry »
Someday I might go skydiving. But today it’s enough to say I’ve gone sky-blogging. Yes, in this crazy world of technological conveniences one can surf the web, send emails, watch NetFlix, video chat with people across the world on Skype and blog from 30,000 feet in an airplane. Welcome to the 21st Century.
Keri and I are en route to our mini Christmas get-away in San Francisco. Yep, we’re going to eat rice-o-ronie, visit the house of Uncle Jesse, Danny Tanner and the Full House gang, drive across a little bridge you may have seen in pictures and visit the slammer, i.e., Alcatraz.
Brad and Megan Drake will be our gracious hosts providing delicious meals and perhaps some weekend wine tasting. Oh, and perhaps we’ll visit the park from So I Married An Axe Murderer — a classic. I’m going to visit my friend Mary and just enjoy getting lost in a one of my seasonal book choices in a SF coffee shop — the 19th century classic The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevesky.
So, here’s to classic Russian novels, iconic suspension bridges and the exhilarating feeling of “blogging while high.” ;-)
What if we could follow Jesus on Twitter? This question is asked all the time and is worthy of a good conversation. I’m glad you can find innumerable articles with similar titles as mine. Would he give new revelation via Twitter or just quote his own Bible verses daily? One person was surprised and humored to find that Jesus was following them on Twitter!
It’s certainly fun to ask WWJT. But I think the great irony of the entire question is that I don’t believe Jesus would ever bother twittering in the first place. I know this is a controversial statement and many will begin making their case why Jesus certainly would use Twitter to spread his Kingdom message and so on.
I’m not going to build a case for my claim today. For today I’ll just share my hunch. My hunch is that Jesus would simply open a Twitter account one day, instantly be noticed by the Twitter community and overnight be followed by millions of people (once he proved he was the real Jesus Christ — and I have no idea how). Then, the twitter world would wait with great anticipation for Jesus to offer his first divine tweet and soon be disappointed when the following message came through the wire: Read the rest of this entry »
I’ll be honest and admit that I have at times been too critical and skeptical of the “virtual church” movement. I see the value of utilizing technology for connecting with fellow believers in online kingdom fellowship, but have typically seen the shortcomings as outweighing the positives.
But I’m trying to give the cyber church proponents a fair hearing. Here’s an article worth checking out by Douglas Estes called In Defense of Virtual Church from Out of Ur. Estes is the author of a new book on the subject called Sim Church: Being the Church in the Virtual World. He begins his article saying: Read the rest of this entry »
“Above all things guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Her hands shook and her eyes roamed restlessly about the bus. I could tell she was agitated about something. I walked up the aisle of the bus and met the eager eyes of many teens as we turned the corner just one block away from the church. This particular girl asked me with a look of both frustration and desperation, “Can I have my cell phone back now?”
Most youth workers can relate to the battle against cell phone dependency and the symptoms of withdrawal that come when we limit or ban cell phone use during a weekend youth retreat or mission trip. For years and years, teens have been signing off on parent permission slips and trip expectation forms banning the possession of such contraband as drugs, alcohol, and weapons. Few ever dared protest the ban on these. I mean, come on! Why would drugs, alcohol and weapons ever be appropriate on a spiritual retreat? However, recently youth pastors have been so bold to add another banned item to the list: cell phones.
The first time I enforced the “No Cell Phones” rule on a retreat I was met with a good amount of protest, complaints, crusty looks and outright defiance. “It’s for your own good,” I told them. “Disconnect from life back home in order to reconnect with God.” “Why not engage the 50 people sitting all around you on the bus, instead of the one person you’re texting?” And so on.
Well, most of us know that disconnecting and giving ourselves a true escape from the people, projects and worries of home is good and healthy for the soul. Even our students “get it” and know it’s true deep down. By the way, our youth group has adapted well to this policy and I’m proud to say it wasn’t even an issue on our most recent trip.
I was having lunch with a pastor friend of mine the other day. He told me of his recent enforcement of the “No Cell Phone” policy at a his mission camp this summer. He said many students were absolutely furious. Many gave their phone up reluctantly and then had an negative attitude the rest of the week over it. What is it with these little devices that makes teens guard them so ferociously? Why is it such a violation of their personal property to ask them to give them up for a weekend retreat or week-long mission trip? What do cell phones represent to teens that make them such personal treasures worth guarding and protecting like a mama bear protects her cubs?
With these thoughts floating around in my head I blurted out a provocative statement to my pastor friend across the table that struck us both as…well…something worth pondering. I said,
“Many teens will give up their virginity easier than they’ll give up their cellphone.”
Or, put another way,
“Many teens seem to guard their cellphone with more care than they guard their virginity.”
I know. Probably an overstatement. Probably offensive to some. But is it completely off track? Is there any degree of truth in this shocking comparison?
If we’re honest we’ll admit that the things we guard and protect are the things we value and treasure most. The things we’re not as protective of and more willing to give up without a fight are the things we value less. So, why do teens guard their cellphones so carefully and often play around so casually and recreationally with their sexuality? This is a lamentable reality that all youth workers must be vigilant to continuously address with our teens. I believe a part of that message must be:
You can toss your cellphone out the window and buy a new one the next day. Sure, you’ll have to spend some time gathering all your contact numbers in order to reprogram them in. But if you give up your virginity in the heat of the moment this Friday night, you’ll never get it back. And that particular personal contact will always be programmed into your memory and you’ll never be able to erase it completely.
So, let’s loosen up our grip on our cellphones and tighten our grip on our God-given gift of sexual purity. That’s a treasure truly worth guarding!
For a Christian understanding of the sacredness of human sexuality and purity check out the extensive essay Christianity and Sexuality by Christopher Ash
From the DI archives. A while back I was researching the ways our brain processes messages in preparation for a series of messages I gave at a weekend youth retreat based on “The Matrix” movies. Here’s some of my reflections on our image-based culture. -JB
“What we’ve introduced at MTV is nonnarrative form…We rely on mood and emotion. We make you feel a certain way as opposed to you walking away with any particular knowledge.”
-Bob Pittman, founding chairman of MTV, quoted in Dancing in the Dark
As we try to become, as Greg Boyd calls it, “Detectives of our Minds,” we must step back and realize that the primary mode of messages we receive everyday come in the form of IMAGES. Your perceptions of the world — yourself, your friends, your values, your aims, aspirations and desires, your doubts, fears, and beliefs — are being most effectively shaped by the thousands of images you encounter daily, and how your brain interprets them.
For example, you probably don’t shop at Abercrombie & Fitch because of an article you READ on the superior quality and style of their brand. Rather, you have see enough commercials, magazine ads, billboards, and catalog images to convince you that this is what’s hot and desirable in fashion.
Or, consider how movie makers draw viewers out on opening night. They don’t use long, lengthy written reviews for viewers to read and decide it sounds good. Rather, they spend millions on action-packed, alluring “Movie trailers” that capture our imaginations with moving images to draw us in. What websites do we like to spend the most time at? Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. Why? Because we love sharing images and watching videos more than reading some long, boring, tall guy’s blog post. <wink wink>
We have moved away from a text-based culture to an image-based culture. Read the rest of this entry »
Another graphic courtesy of Jesus Creed. This graphically illustrated some of my previous posts on the dangers of social media technology. What do you think of this graphic? Which concerns you most?