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Entries in Social Media (39)


It's discouraging the ability to be longsuffering

While technology and social media have given us helpful things, we cannot deny that it has helped us foster bad habits. One of the things I have noticed in my own life is the tendency for me to become impatient. Something takes a long time to download; my computer updates take longer than I expect; Netflix is down; the tracking on my package says it was to come today, so where is it?

We feel sorry for ourselves when someone doesn't answer or text message right (guilty!) forgetting that at one time, people waited for letters or parents watched their kids move across the country and never saw them again.

I see this also manifested in the way Twitter, especially, encourages us to beat a dead horse. We feel strongly about something, and when people disagree, we may respond; more than once. Perhaps we talk about it repeatedly. We may even engage the trolls, even though we know it's never productive. We are not willing to simply let it go. Letting something go is very freeing. I am trying to learn the art of saying my peace and then letting it rest.

I know from personal experience how beating a dead horse with an individual is actually harmful. I did it to my kids when they were at home. I believed that all I needed to do was show them where they erred and they would magically fall into line. It is one of my biggest regrets. When we go on and on about something, eventually people stop listening. When will we learn that we cannot change how people think simply by telling them they must?

At some point in our lives, we will all face points where we can do absolutely nothing about a situation other than throw ourselves on the mercy and love of God. Being longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit, and I need to ensure that my use of something like social media doesn't discourage that fruit.


I have a theory about women theologians and politics

I'm getting set to work full force on my term paper over the next couple of days (it's due Friday), but I had a thought this morning. I am also getting used to a new pair of bifocals (not my first rodeo, however) and typing has been an issue. There may be a return visit to my eye doctor. Anyway.

Last week, I wondered aloud on Twitter (that bastion of precious information) if there were mature, female theologians I could follow; specifically those who don't talk about American politics. I have tried in the past keeping track of a few, and inevitably, the talk is about US politics.

Now, the fact that they are American is part of the reason why. Understandable. And female theologians alone are hard to come by in Canada. As one of my Twitter friends said: "crickets." No takers.

I think one of the reasons why many female theolgians, whether they are mature, younger, professional, or ordinary theologians, insert politics into their conversations is because people are used to women commenting about politics. There are many female politicians. Here in Canada, I believe there is about 28% ratio of female to male Members of Parliament. Here in Ontario, there's about 30% female MPPs. 

Conservative Christians will not think twice about female physicians, female dentists, female lawyers, financial planners, and maybe even a female police officer. Female theologians? No way. There are many complementarian leaning men out there who may not even want a female doctor or lawyer. I have to smile a little when I recall the fawning and fussing over Sarah Palin a few years ago. We may want women running our country, but not our churches; at least not in conservative circles.

So, what's a female theologian to do if she wants to have a voice? She addresses theology through political themes. 

At least that's my (probably uninformed) opinion. I am a budding theologian. I have no wish to discuss US politics. I know little about it, and I'm not inclined to know more. I know enough about Canadian politics to keep me an informed voter. I just want to know God more.

So, as usual, I resort to buying books. My husband will be so pleased.


Let's warn mom and dad, too

Last week, while I was waiting to leave the parking lot of the grocery store, I saw a little girl who couldn't have been more than eight years old, looking at her cellphone as she got into the car. I'm so glad there were no cellphones when my kids were younger. Yes, we had other distractions, but I'm thankful they weren't expected to have cellphones at eight. The articles warning parents about over use of cellphones is apt.

But what about parents?

My dad is a hard worker. He always has been. His job was demanding, and put in the hours. But the weekends were his. He did bring work home, but there was no one at work clamoring to speak to him on the weekend. My husband regularly gets texts and emails from employees, clients, and co-workers. One of his bosses texted him just as we were going to bed one night, and I looked at my husband and said, "Really?" When we went to the staff Christmas party, I said jokingly (although not so jokingly), "I guess I know what you and your wife weren't doing the other night." Yes, I'm a little irreverent like that at times. He got the point. I know he did, because later, he came to me to chat and he expressed how wonderful my husband is at his job and how thankful they are for him. When it comes to my husband's job, I'm not ashamed of pointing out when it's encroaching on his much needed down time.

How many people will eat Christmas dinner with their cellphones at the table? How many men will be sitting in the living room "watching the kids," while they look at their social media feeds? How many people will wake up on Christmas morning and check Twitter before they even get out of bed? Or will make sure their kids' pictures with their gifts get on social media before 8:00 a.m.?

We all hear the cry to "be present." It's a good cry. It's one I wish I had been given when blogging and social media was really taking off. I was not often present. And I was a stay-at-home mother. It's not just teenagers and young adults who are on their phones all the time. Just show an older person with a new iPad funny cat videos on YouTube and see how they find a new hobby.

In the past few months since I moved my office upstairs, my phone, more often than not gets left downstairs because when I come up here, I leave it. I don't really need it. If it rings -- which is seldom does because my kids don't call; they text -- I can either get up to answer it or I can let the voicemail pick it up. I don't need it by my side. I don't need it when I watch television or read a book. 

And I certainly don't need to check social media on Christmas Day. And if I wanted to, I couldn't, anyway, because I (like most women, I suspect) will be the one doing the cooking tomorrow.

If no one Tweeted, updated their Facebook or Instagram feeds or wrote a blog post tomorrow, the sun would still come up, Christmas would still come, and life would go on. And maybe we'd all be a little better for it.

We can tell kids until we're blue in the face not to be on their phones all the time, but the example starts with us.


Throw the dogs some bones

I just returned from a great visit with my brother in Connecticut. My brother has been living in the U.S. for many years. He's a citizen now and his daughters were born there. He anda his wife are welcoming hosts, and we enjoyed a boat tour around the island of Manhattan (exactly the way I would want to see the city) and then we went to a shipbuilding museum which was like a little community where we could go inside buildings and see artifacts about the life of a community back in the days when people hunted for whale. 

While we were socializing, enjoying food and drink, of course the matter of politics came up. My brother has his own perspective about such matters having been raised in Canada, moving to the U.S., and working in the financial industry. My brother is not a Christian, so many of his views are to be expected, but what really floored me when I had a chance last night to check my email and get re-organized, was the number of Christians who don't sound much different about politics than he does. It got me thinking: how does our position in Christ affect our politics? What makes us different as voters and citizens? That's a big question, and while I'm in the middle of Greek Ex and Synoptic Gospels, it's a question I won't think of much beyond the time it takes to post this. 

This whole social justice matter has produced such virulent dialogue from Christians. While not strictly a political issue, it is definitely related. As I witnessed some discussion last night, I had the image of a cage of about three hungry dogs and someone dropping a meaty bone into the midst, and then standing back and watching the progress. That is what I thought a particular tweet looked like. Why do people do that? Why do Christians gleefully announce how their words have enraged someone? It is a way of relating to an issue that frankly, doesn't seem Christian. It doesn't come across as civil, reasoned, or measured. It looks like there are a lot of Christian pastors out there who use their spare time to post things they know will incite conflict. An all in the name of "I'm proclaiming truth."

I thought about my brother and his views on politics and social justice, and how one of the biggest differences between us is my faith and his lack of it. Would I direct him to Christian social media to learn about Christian views on politics and other matters?

Not on your life. 


Snark is not a spiritual gift

What is the difference between being snarky and being incisivie?


I found this definition of snark from the Cambridge Dictionary:

"Criticizing someone in an annoyed way and trying to hurt their feelings."

Merriam-Webster softens it a bit to describe it as "crotchety, snappish," or "sarcastic, impertinent, or irrevent in tone or manner."

My big 1600 page Oxford English Reference Dictionary doesn't even have a definition for the word, the reference being to a creation of Lewis Carroll featured in the book The Hunting of the Snark. The term is North American, apparently. Snark is meant to be cutting.

When I was a kid, I got in trouble for being snarky. If I am snarky with my husband, he isn't inclined to listen to me, because the attitude that often accompanies snark is arrogance; I am right; I don't care about your feelings; I want to put you in your place.

A biting retort is often useful in making a point, but a steady diet of snark is tiresome. I get tired of seeing people on social media bragging about their proficiency in snark as if it is a gift of the Spirit. "Be filled with snark" is not something I have read in my Bible.  

It is possible to write incisively and directly without mocking. But it takes more work. Maybe it involves a little thought and prayer? Or maybe just a good thesaurus or perhaps reading a little more widely to develop one's vocabulary? People who know they are snarky and boast about it don't come across as having any interest in alternative ways of communicating. And they are blind to the negative example they set as Christians.

If someone is characterized by snark, I'm not interested in what they have to say. Chances are, there is someone else making a similar point with more grace and skill, and I want to listen to that.