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This year we will observe the tenth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001—when terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. killed thousands and precipitated a “War on Terror” that has now spanned a decade and circled the globe. The PC(USA) has designated a season of prayer in observance of this anniversary. Material will be posted on the Musings blog beginning Thursday September 1 and running through September 11. Each day there will be a scripture passage, a short reflection, suggestions for action or how you might live out the scripture passage and a closing prayer. We particularly encourage you to consider the ideas for action and to share your thoughts, prayers and acts with us here on Musings.
The prayers will be based on the Lectionary epistle reading for Sunday, August 28, 2011—Romans 12:9-21. This passage from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome sets forth the parameters for Christian life in a time of fear and violence, hatred and persecution. It also offers a compelling model for faithful Christian witness and response in our own day—a time no less fraught with conflict, anxiety, and suspicion among neighbors and nations. The full reflection can be found at Eleven Days of Prayer.
First Presbyterian Church, Shreveport will mark this tragic event by participating in an ecumenical Service of Peace and Hope at 5:00 p.m. on September 11 in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Shreveport. We and five other Highland area churches, including St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Noel United Methodist, St. John Berchmans, Church for the Highlands, and First Baptist, will be joining their respective choirs and ministers to lead this hour-long service of anthems, hymns, scripture, Taizé, instrumental music, prayers, and a meditation by our pastor Pen Peery. All are invited to attend this moving time of reflection as we gather together as worshipping congregations.
As summer begins to wane and the school year starts up in earnest, we thought a poem from Wendell Berry might give us a healthy perspective on trying and failing and in the process learning something about ourselves and about life and our place in it. This poem was published on-line by the Writer’s Almanac on August 23. It was published in the book Leavings (Counterpoint Press, 2010.)
I go by a field where once
I cultivated a few poor crops.
It is now covered with young trees,
for the forest that belongs here
has come back and reclaimed its own.
And I think of all the effort
I have wasted and all the time,
and of how much joy I took
in that failed work and how much
it taught me. For in so failing
I learned something of my place,
something of myself, and now
I welcome back the trees.
The following is from the blog of the magazine Christian Century by Steve Thorngate. You can find the blog and comments at Social Media More Than a Tool. It raises some interesting points. We have included the links to the sites mentioned. What do you think about sites like Shop My Church ?
The biggest question about social media and the church is not how the church can harness the power of social media for good ends while safeguarding against bad ones (useful as such discussions may be). It’s how social media is changing what it means to be church. The rise of social media brings up ecclesiological issues that challenge the very assumption that it is a tool for a separate entity called the church to control in any particular way.
Two recent posts shed light on this point. Over at the New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary, Jim Rice brings up Avery Dulles’s influential book Models of the Church, which proposes five basic paradigms–overlapping, not mutually exclusive–for understanding the church. Rice suggests that social media might point to a sixth:
We now have vivid examples of the “universal body of Christ” that never before existed. These instantaneous global interactions made possible by new media offer analogies of God’s transcendence and immanence that have the potential to lead to profound new insights and understandings about the very nature of God and God’s realm on earth. . . . While the evermore interconnected nature of our world doesn’t change the nature of God, it provides new models that can enrich our understanding.
Here on the Century site, CCblogger K. M. Camper highlights the new social website Shop My Church, a directory of churches that offers information compiled not from official documents or statements from church leaders but from testimonials by individual churchgoers. The resulting online tool reflects a religious marketplace in which the authority to speak for a church has been flattened considerably:
Shop My Church, as a social media tool, shifts power away from the officially sanctioned leaders of the church to the laity to not only promote their churches but also to represent them. Lay people have always had an important role in spreading the word about their churches, but in the past they’ve had limited access to methods of mass public broadcasting. But today, anyone can have a Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account, giving them the potential to reach a large number of people. Savvy church leaders are looking to these new media tools to help grow their churches, but they can’t do it alone. It’s doubtful, however, that congregants will allow themselves to be the mouthpieces of their leaders, and leaders should take notice.
Camper aptly compares the cultural shifts underway to the much-documented relationship between the printing press and the Protestant Reformation. Printing wasn’t just a new and useful tool for spreading the word. It massively democratized the world of ideas and letters, enacting–not just promoting–a theological shift in religious authority. In retrospect, it’s impossible to say that print was or is merely a passive tool to be used for good or for ill. In limited but very real ways, print has changed what it means to be a person.
While it remains to be seen whether social media’s impact will be as profound, it’s important to examine it at the most basic, theological levels. The New Media Project at Union–headed up by Verity Jones, former editor of the excellent and sadly defunct Disciples World magazine–is focused on just these sorts of questions. If you’re interested in social media and theology, you should be keeping up with this project.
From Omaha NE comes an interesting model of how to merge a small group gathering with a virtual worship service and community. It’s known as Darkwood Brew. You can access the website here: Darkwood Brew
Below are some descriptions… Check it out for yourself! Their motto is “You might not like it. But, then again, you might.”
“DWB is a renegade exploration of Christian faith for the modern world. This weekly program blends ancient contemplative practices developed by Benedictine monks with cutting-edge media technology. We add a whole bunch of caffeine just to keep things moving. The setting is our amazing coffee house. It’s exhilarating, experiential and groundbreaking.”
Lead by Rev. Eric Elnes, Ph.D., Darkwood Brew is a groundbreaking experimental web television program and Christian worship service.
Based on the structure of the Lectio Divina, an ancient spiritual practice developed by Benedictine monks in the 5th Century, and using cutting edge technology; Darkwood Brew explores The Unexpected Love of God in relevant, challenging and surprising ways.
Featuring world-class jazz musicians, live interviews with international guests, and a variety of interactive media that allow you to participate in real-time, Darkwood Brew is webcast weekly on Sundays at 5pm CST.
The Musings blog is one year old this month, and we thought we’d take a moment both to look back at our first year and also to look forward to the coming year for Musings. We also wanted to touch base with our original goals for this blog. We hope that you will help us in this evaluation by completing this short survey. Click here for the Musings Survey
Your feedback will be helpful in evaluating what did and did not work this past year and in considering new directions we might take with Musings for the coming year.
When Musings began a year ago we wanted it to “be a place to consider thought-provoking, evocative, sometimes polemical but not overtly political, writings, quotes, ideas, and poetry on the Christian life in all its facets: spiritual, religious, ethical, and practical.” We think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. Postings on changes in ordination standards, the Belhar confession, missional ecclesiology, the Tucson shootings, the Incarnation, nurturing our youth in the faith, what it means to be the church at 900 Jordan, Lenten devotionals by members and staff, Holy Week scripture and meditations, the emerging church movement, Advent meditations, poetry, art, photographs, video, the Bangladesh pilgrimage, and more have appeared on Musings.
We also hoped that Musings might become an online forum for discussion of matters posted on the blog as a way to broaden our individual perspectives and as a byproduct of those discussions, to foster a sense of community among the participants in Musings. That has proven to be a hard nut to crack and something we will continue to work on.
In subsequent posts this month, we’ll also be taking a broader look at social media in general and how it has been used to share our faith, as individuals, and to tell the story of our church. We will also examine some of the ways other churches are using social media.
So, please complete the survey. If you have additional thoughts about the blog, please speak to Lisa Schrott, Frank Dodson, or Pen Peery. Thanks.