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Posts from the ‘Consumerism’ Category

For Sale

I spent part of this past weekend reading Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble. The book is about the personalization of the Internet—about how companies like Google and Facebook and Amazon (to name just a few) are buying and selling information about us in order to “customize” search engine results, provide “recommendations” based on past purchases and assumed preferences, to suggest links and articles, to “connect” us with like-minded people or potential romantic partners, etc. Pretty thoughtful of them, right? I thought so too. Read more

Give Me an Answer… Now!

Among the lessons we are learning with each large-scale tragedy in the digital age, is that our insatiable appetite for “news,” for answers, for solutions can and does lead to some fairly shoddy journalism. In a world where traditional news sources must compete with social media and public journalism, the only thing worse than not getting the story right is not getting the story first. And so we see predictable results like the ones that have been on display since the bombing in Boston on Monday (and which will no doubt continue with today’s tragedy in Texas). We have a suspect… No, wait, we don’t… The suspect is of x ethnicity… No, wait, that was inaccurate… There were x number of people killed… No, wait, that’s not exactly true… And on and on it goes. Read more

Sex and Spectacle—This is Prophetic?

Like hundreds of millions of my fellow humans, I spent part of Sunday watching the Super Bowl. I don’t particularly care for American football (I prefer the real version, where they don’t wear armour and stop for a break every 10 seconds or so), but we were invited to someone’s place to watch the game, and there was to be good food and good people present, so off I went. And, leaving aside the mind-numbing tedium of so much advertising and hype and endless time outs (some unexpected) and the bizarre pre- mid- , and post-game commentary about how God may or may not have been involved in the outcome, it was a pretty good game.   Read more

Difference as Essence

It is not at all uncommon for me, as a pastor, to encounter some variation of the question, “So, what’s the deal with all the different denominations in Christianity? Why can’t you all agree on anything?!” Read more

The Scratching of Itches

Regular readers of this blog will know that the subject of my masters thesis a few years ago was the rise of “The New Atheism” (the late Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett) and that I interpreted this phenomenon not as the inevitable triumph of scientific rationality over superstition (as many of the authors were fond of claiming) but as a form of protest atheism against the evil in the world and against a God that they expected better from.

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Freedom From Ourselves

I’ve come across this in a number of places this week… Apparently, you can now purchase software to force yourself off the internet. Freedom is a program designed to keep you offline for up to eight hours at a time, freeing you up to be creative, productive, on task, and healthy and happy to boot, no doubt. Technology to save us from technology. Just what we need. Read more

Less Than Perfect

One of the “joys” of driving around town with my kids has been my forced reacquaintance with top-40 radio. For some reason, my children don’t seem to appreciate listening to CBC Radio One, and it usually takes approximately thirty seconds of time in the car before we’re bouncing along down the highway to the latest offering from whatever band or artist is currently enjoying/milking their moment in the sun. It’s been remarkable to hear the many different ways in which the same four chords and the same two or three themes can be employed to produce an astonishing amount of truly abysmal music. Read more

Peace, Pietism, and Personal Branding

Part of this week was spent at a gathering of Alberta Mennonite pastors just north of Calgary. The drive alone would have made the trip worth it. I had forgotten how spectacularly colourful autumn in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains can be! More importantly, though, it was a good opportunity to connect with new colleagues, as well as to get a sense of some of the strengths, challenges and theological perspectives of a conference that is still fairly new to me. Read more

Guilt and Gratitude (Gil Dueck)

On the drive in to work today, the radio airwaves were abuzz with conversation about “Occupy Wall Street”—a series of demonstrations in New York City against the economic inequities created/sustained by the global financial system.  Too many resources in the hands of too few, too much greed and corruption, too much abuse of power, etc, etc.  The voices on the radio were full of passion, moral outrage, and conviction that this movement was the beginning of “something big.” Read more

“We Are Distracting Ourselves Into Spiritual Oblivion”

I’m in the midst of a very busy stretch right now, so there’s not a lot of time for original posts. This morning, however, in the midst of my busyness, I came across a few prescient quotes from Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing on the struggles we often have with paying attention to and nourishing our spiritual lives. Rolheiser identifies three main things that work against what he calls a sense of “interiority,” and all three seem to pretty  much hit the nail on the head: narcissism, pragmatism, and unbridled restlessness. Here’s a bit of what I read prior to heading out into another busy (!) day: Read more

Run For It

Conversations with a few friends over the last little while have got me toying with the idea of attempting a half-marathon later this year. I have taken a few halting steps (literally and metaphorically) towards this goal in the last few days, but it remains to be seen if these will be sustained. It’s not hard to jog for a few kilometres in the midst of what has been a glorious Alberta summer, but when the cold and the wind make their inevitable appearance? Well, let’s just say that my resolve will likely face a more formidable test. Read more

Religion as Interior Decorating

Because it is loosely related to themes under discussion here over the last little while, and because it is a pretty accurate reflection of current religious appetites (especially here on the west coast), and because it is pretty amusing, and because, well, I just like posting David Bentley Hart quotes: Read more

On “Relevance”

Over at Faith and Leadership, Timothy Larsen has posted a withering critique of the church’s never-ending pursuit of the Holy Grail of “relevance.” It’s a pretty short article, and well worth the read. If you are at all involved in church leadership and recognize some of your own experience here, perhaps you will be emboldened and spurred on to determined new heights of (appropriate) irrelevance. If nothing else, perhaps it will evoke a kind of grim laughter for those who have spent any time at all in and around certain expressions of North American church life. Here are a few memorable quotes from what I found to be an insightful (if disturbing) article. Read more

The Church, It is a-Changing

At any given time, I have between 25-30 unpublished, half/barely-started posts or links to interesting articles occupying space in my “drafts” folder. Needless to say, things can get buried pretty easily, so I try to periodically root through this folder to see what I once thought was interesting/worth posting on, and to determine what might need to see the light of day (or be consigned to the cyber-scrap heap!). Read more

The Naked Anabaptist 6: Justice

Well, I am moving at a downright glacial pace to the conclusion of my series on Stuart Murray’s The Naked Anabaptist. If anyone’s still following along, I’m on to the the sixth of Stuart Murray’s seven core convictions of Anabaptists: Read more

Consumers vs. Disciples

This morning I was involved in a conversation about “consumer-driven” models of church. Especially in a cultural context where churches find themselves competing for “market-share” with other churches, it becomes quite easy for churches to come to see themselves as “service-providers” in some form or another. People come to us to have their “religious” needs met and we are expected to accommodate them by providing a package that is uplifting, inspiring, intellectually stimulating, or some other desirable adjective along with a whole host of articulated and unarticulated social needs. If we don’t meet these needs appropriately or enthusiastically or sensitively or “relevantly” enough, well, there’s a whole host of other churches that will (or will claim to). That’s what churches are for, after all. Read more

Lost in Translation

This morning’s tour through the blogosphere led to the discovery that Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society) is giving up on the 2002 revision of the New International Version of the Bible (the TNIV) because of the “mistakes” of this translation. As someone who actually likes the TNIV and uses it somewhat regularly, I was surprised and a little disappointed to learn about this.  I realize that the TNIV is not a perfect translation and that, like every translation, there are biases and interpretations that come through, but it’s one that I’ve come to appreciate over the years—not least because of its commitment to render the original text in more gender inclusive language.  It’s a translation that I don’t hesitate to recommend to others, whether they are long-time Christians or they’ve never cracked open a Bible in their lives and are just curious about what they might find.  Consequently, I was interested to discover which “mistakes” the publishers were talking about. Read more

Freedom, Decency, and the MMVA’s

A few weeks ago I discovered that one of the many useless channels that I am now privileged to have access to as a cable television subscriber is a channel called Much Music (I wasn’t aware that my TV went above channel 100… or what combination of buttons on my remote would lead me to this uncharted territory; for most of my life, I’ve made do with five channels or less).  I used to sneak a peak at MM whenever I could as a teenager because I rarely got to see music videos and was strangely fascinated by this brave new (at least to me) world of music and entertainment. Read more