links to 7 items worth your time

1. Yes, You Can Be an Ethical Tech Consumer. Here’s How [essential reading]

“Products that we enjoy continue to create privacy, misinformation and workplace issues. We can do better at getting the industry to do better. … We are the buyers, users and supporters of the products and services that help Big Tech thrive. … So what do we do at this point to become more ethical consumers?”

2. In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books [required reading]

“Do not quit before you start. … Do the simple math. … Find the time. … Execute.”

3. How Cancer Changes Hope by Kate Bowler

“Much of Christian theology rests on the image of God as the ultimate reality beyond time and space, the creator of a past, present and future where all exists simultaneously in the Divine Mind. But where does that leave the bewildered believer who cannot see the future and whose lantern casts light only backward, onto the path she has already taken?”

4. The Virtual Commentary on Scripture

“The Visual Commentary on Scripture (VCS) is a freely accessible online publication that provides theological commentary on the Bible in dialogue with works of art. It helps its users to (re)discover the Bible in new ways through the illuminating interaction of artworks, scriptural texts, and commissioned commentaries. The VCS combines three academic disciplines: theology, art history, and biblical scholarship. While the project’s main commitment is to theology, it is responsibly informed by the latter two disciplines.”

5. The Otherworldly Beauty of a Dying Sea

“The Dead Sea is falling by more than a meter a year, and paradoxically, its destruction is revealing an eerie, enchanting world below the waters.”

6. Let Winter Do Its Work

“Winter has important work to do. Let winter do its work.”

7. Bono’s Testimony [11 min. video; essential viewing]

“… he [Jesus] was the Son of God or he … was nuts. … I find it hard to accept that wholly millions and millions of lives, half the earth, for two thousand years, have been touched, have felt their lives touched, and inspired, by some nutter. I don’t believe it.”

links to 4+ helpful articles

1. When you’re grateful, your brain becomes more charitable [required reading]

“Practicing gratitude shifted the value of giving in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. It changed the exchange rate in the brain. Giving to charity became more valuable than receiving money yourself. After the brain calculates the exchange rate, you get paid in the neural currency of reward, the delivery of neurotransmitters that signal pleasure and goal attainment. So in terms of the brain’s reward response, it really can be true that giving is better than receiving.”

2. Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet

“A demographic portrait of today’s 6- to 21-year-olds.”

3. Giving Thanks for Difficult People

“Give thanks for the difficult people in your life. Then, identify what’s in the way of being fully present. Take the time to resolve it, so that you can bring your full humanity, and your full spiritual powers, to bear.”

4. Your Child and Facebook are Not a Good Match

“What is happening with those photos once they’re uploaded?”

5. A Fact-Checker’s Guide to Thanksgiving Politics

“With the holiday on the heels of the midterm elections, sitting out a political food fight may be unavoidable. But it doesn’t have to be inaccurate. Arm yourself with the facts.”

links to 4+ helpful articles

1. What church leaders should be doing

“… focused on Ephesians 4.7-16. … Leaders help others discover their own ministry. … Leaders help the body grow in unity. … Leaders help other Christians become more like Jesus. …”

More.

2. American Exorcism

“… the ‘why now?’ question behind exorcism’s comeback; no evidence exists to suggest that child abuse has increased. The second doorway — an interest in the occult — might offer at least a partial explanation.”

3. Airline etiquette in the not-so-friendly skies

“… we can at least get back some civility by using these tips when taking to the skies. Here’s to happier travel!”

4. Not everyone wants their donations touted on Facebook or plastered on walls

“… while some people may feel good just knowing they helped someone even if no one else knows, others feel that they are a kind, giving person only when others find out about their good acts.”

links to 3 helpful posts

1. How Do Christians Fit into the Two-Party System? They Don’t by Timothy Keller

“The historical Christian positions on social issues don’t match up with contemporary political alignments. … Christians should think of how God rescued them. He did it not by taking power but by coming to earth, losing glory and power, serving and dying on a cross.”

2. Check & See If You’re Registered to Vote?

“This will take thirty seconds.”

3. A Military Expert Explains Why Social Media is the New Battlefield

“Social media rewards not morality or veracity, but virality. Their design is a perfect engine for the fast and wide spread of information, which makes them so wonderful. But there is a catch: unlike the truth, lies can be engineered to take advantage of that design and move faster and wider.”

 

what to do about using Facebook: a baker’s dozen of this man’s ways

1. Only with exceedingly rare and brief exception have Facebook on my phone or tablet.

2. Have, and keep constantly updated, quality anti-virus, malware detection, and ad-blocking software. Run scans by these regularly, even if they are already automated and constantly run in the background. In addition, keep a clean machine (e.g. – make regular use of CCleaner or similar software).

3. Never “sign in” to any account via another account (e.g. – “Sign in with Facebook”).

4. Refuse to do anything on any social media unless #’s 1-3 above are in place, working well, and are current.

5. Within Facebook, make sure Platform is turned off. [Settings > Apps]

6. Make sure zero check boxes are ticked under Apps Others Use. [Settings > Apps]

7. Select “Only Me” for Old Versions of Facebook for Mobile. [Settings > Apps]

8. Closely and regularly review answers to all eight questions under Privacy. Err on the side of restriction. [Settings > Privacy]

9. Select “Only Me” and “On” for all Timeline and Tagging Settings. [Settings > Timeline and Tagging]

10. Closely, and regularly, review all settings under six categories under Your Ad Preferences. [Settings > Ads] Again, err on the side of restriction.

11. Do not play any games or take any polls on any social media.

12. When posting, make rare use of tagging others and typically remove any tags that automatically appear.

13. Avoid skipping or putting off any of the preceding.

why am I still on Facebook?

 

Why is anyone on Facebook?

This is the question that I hear often, from all ages and sorts. Some ask that question as if to say, “I would’ve hoped that Facebook had died by now.” Others ask it meaning, “How I wish everyone was on Facebook!” These are only two, of course; no doubt the answers are Legion.

Why are you on Facebook?

Such is the question that is sometimes asked of me, and asked for a variety of reasons.

Why am I on Facebook?

I know this is the question I ask myself daily. Actually, with every single Facebook post. Literally.

So let me field those questions, particularly the latter two, right here. And why? Because I see myself as utilizing Facebook in a way different from most, and I do not want to be misunderstood.

I perceive a great many Facebook users as making use of it for the sake of (1) distraction, (2) delight, (3) the “different,” and/or (4) debate. Add to that list, (5) “the news.”

I make very little use of Facebook for distraction (e.g. – random, stream of consciousness posting, etc.). More so for delight (e.g. – pics of the grandkids, nature photography, etc.). Similarly in regard to “the different” (e.g. – a song that’s busted into my head and won’t leave, pics of odd things going out thru the church pantry, etc.). And add to that, some scrolling for “the news” (e.g. – prayer requests, matters of great joy or grief, etc.).

Now perhaps you noticed no reference to the word “debate” in that preceding paragraph. That was, significantly, quite deliberate; as in with a will. For I generally loathe debating matters in front of nearly eight hundred different people (my friends list) of all ages, backgrounds, beliefs, bias, burdens, etc. And why is that? Because I have found nearly no constructive good, and only a great deal of harm, typically coming from such activity, and so I like to sidestep such whenever possible.

The words of Ephesians 4 come to my mind often:

When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need — words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. (Eph. 4.29 NCV)

Which leads me to a word that describes my intent behind the lion’s share of my Facebook posts: direction. That is the word that I keep in mind as I operate on Facebook.

As in I seek to steer my friends towards resources they might have otherwise have missed or merely scanned that could be helpful to them (e.g. – articles that can sharpen our thinking, links to discoveries related to Bible places, etc.). I try to raise awareness and the level of conversation (e.g. – good things happening at church, world events through another’s eyes, etc.). I try to guide us in talking with God (e.g. – a prayer for the day) and to walk with words of insight or thoughtfulness (e.g. – quote for the day). And I want to direct folks toward good things they can do (e.g. – memorizing Scripture, an exercise for the day). Etc.

Direction. This is why I remain on Facebook – in an often confusing, chaotic, and crushing world, I deliberately seek to give some direction toward strength, structure, and sanity. To maneuver people away from pollution and the putrid toward higher purpose and purity. To channel our thoughts and energy toward healthy, productive ways and away from ways that, to be honest, do little more than fritter away time. Direction.

Now I certainly make no claim of perfection toward direction. But, I do claim real and sincere effort in that work. And, I do know the Author of all good guidance.

So, I seek to conduct myself so every day on Facebook. To the end that at least my wee portion of the Facebook world does not merely exist as a place of frivolity, for fight club, or feverish futility. With an eye on the One above and all those around us.

That is why I am Facebook, still. And why I still prefer private conversations, not the social media stage, for discussions of differences, etc. I see social media as a great place for starting thought and conversations; I see face-to-face as the place for having those two-way conversations. For the sake of understanding and development, accountability and civility, and just generally measured, non-knee-jerk response.

Let me speak plainly. Someone wants to talk with me face-to-face, hey, I’ve got time for them. Someone who wants to make a dustup and solve the world’s problems through a few texted words on my Facebook page, not so much. Discussion and debate isn’t the problem, but the general, abysmal lack of civility and respect that I find across the online experience. And so, I try to avoid enabling such behavior.

In some forms of online life, one can turn off comments (e.g. – as I have done with my blog). This forces people to talk with me in some more private means … where the odds of true understanding and productive interaction go way up. Facebook doesn’t offer such so … I need to be realistic about what can/will occur there. My blog is a billboard; my Facebook page is a coffee table … that I wish I could make more into like a billboard. Ha!

And now the words of an old song are busting my brain …

“Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Achievement, expectations, humility, service, success & the will of God: God’s Not Looking for Heroes

“We don’t all need to be heroes. Jesus is the Hero. The Hero came 2000 years ago. So He’s already the Hero. He’s not looking for heroes, He’s looking for co-laborers. The challenge is, most people want to be co-stars, not co-laborers. If you actually understood what it was to be a co-laborer, you could labor wherever you are.”

America, culture, individualism, materialism, nationalism, patriotism, values & war: American Values Are Not Necessarily Christian Values

“… [there can be] no excuse for conflating country and church. We can appreciate and even respect the nation in which we reside, but we must not forget that our status is as foreigner and exiles. (1 Peter 2:11)”

American Sniper, cinema, deception, distortion, evil, film, movies & payback: Clint Eastwood’s Sniper, and the American Messiah [essential reading]

“This is the problem with the white-hat black-hat narrative of Hollywood: when ‘they’ do what ‘we’ do (though ‘they,’ of course, poor saps, are just not as efficient in their killing as ‘we’ are) it is evil, but when Americans do it, it is heroic. Eastwood’s Kyle insists he is doing what he does because he does not want terrorists in our neighborhoods here. Yet he participates in the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11; a country who was headed by, no doubt, a despot but a despot who had furthered his hold on power by the support of our own country; and when those people fight back because they don’t want foreign invaders in their streets, it’s ‘evil’ like Eastwood’s Kyle has never yet imagined.”

Anger, bitterness, forgiveness, hatred & resentment: A Holocaust Survivor, Spared From Gas Chamber By Twist Of Fate

“Anger doesn’t get you anyplace. Hate doesn’t get you anyplace.”

Attention span, authority, church, commitment, Facebook & social media: 5 Ways Facebook May be Harming Your Church

“What effect does ‘social media’ technology have on the way we view church? What effect does it have on the way we conceive of life in the body of Christ?”