Thinking Out Loud

March 28, 2011

Building Community Through Church Directories

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came

~Theme from Cheers TV-Show

It was a heated congregational meeting that had been called nearly twenty years ago to address the implications of the rapidly growing church going to a two service format on Sunday mornings.  The usual pros and cons were being kicked around when a woman at the back stood up and voiced an issue I hadn’t foreseen; “But we won’t all know each other.”

I never thought of that.

This was a church where, heretofore, everybody knew who everybody was.  The kind of thing you expect in a rural church environment.  Suddenly, that was about to change, and there was apprehension if not plain fear about the implications of going to church on Sunday morning and not being in command of the first and last names of all the people in the auditorium.

# # #

Some churches have always resolved the identification issue by having a bulletin board at the back with photos of “Our Church Family.”  A local church in our area raised the quality standard on this a few years back.  When the professional company doing their photo directory was done, the church was presented with a couple of beautiful, framed wall prints showing everyone’s directory photo and name alphabetically.  I’m sure it is often referred to, given that church’s size.

Another option is name tags.  Besides the risk of the pin-type tearing clothing — many churches opt for the lanyard type —  I’ve always felt it reminiscent of the “elder” name tags worn by the Mormon (LDS) missionaries who come knocking at your front door at inopportune times.  But some churches thrive on this system, with visitors quickly assigned a quickly-scribbled Sharpie version which, I’m quite sure, would make seeker-friendly advocates like Bill Hybels shudder in horror; although it beats asking visitors to stand up and give their names, a practice I sincerely hope has disappeared by now.

It also raises an issue I don’t have space to get into here:  The artificiality of the “turn around shake hands” type of forced fellowship.  Or name tags themselves.  If you click the image on the name tag at right, it will take you to a blog post on that subject.

Then there are various types of mixers including Newcomers Lunch, where established church leaders get to know recent arrivals; or the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” events where, each quarter, people alternate between being a “host” or being a “guest” at a mystery house with mystery guests.  (You can even heat things up by sending the charismatic-leaning, Arminian Smith family over for lunch with the conservative Calvinist Jones family; but who gets the Black family with their ten children?)

Of course, the organic approach to getting to know people is small groups.  You won’t know everyone, but you’ll build deep relationships and strong community with the others in your group.   And possibly at that point, knowing everyone’s name won’t be so high a priority.

Which brings us to church directories.

# # #

When my oldest son was about six I showed him an entry in our church’s directory where one couple’s name was listed, but there was no address or phone number.  It was easy to see why if you knew that he worked for the RCMP.  (U.S. readers: Think FBI.)  So I asked him, “Why do you think they don’t have an address?”

His answer was; “They’re homeless.”

I then explained the nature of his job, and the notion of privacy.  There are other examples I can think of where families have chosen to opt-out completely from even having their names listed, but in most small and medium-sized churches, a church telephone directory is still considered useful, even though some online people haven’t picked up a phone handset in years; so most people participate.

Directories easily fit into the collection of things listed above (name tags, photo boards, etc.) but offer something else: A means to get in touch, or stay in touch with other people in your church throughout the week.  You can call the kid’s teacher to see if he left his Bible in the classroom, ask the worship leader’s wife for the title of the book she mentioned in the lobby, and e-mail the woman who said she had a great recipe for carrot cake.  You can see where people live, and the names of their children.

I am convinced that these directories — with or without photos — are in another category altogether, and sincerely believe that, where feasible, every church should have one.

Especially in an age of e-mail.

I know there will be pushback on this — some people will not want their e-mail address published — but I am convinced that we live in an electronic world where not having e-mail is like buying a house and taking down the mailbox.  I believe there is potential for abuse, but it is outweighed by the contact that can take place between church family members.

As a business owner who does a monthly e-mail newsletter, I’m always tempted to steal e-mail addresses from directories, but we’ve learned over time that we’re better off initiating contact some other way before pursuing electronic communication.  However, one local church meets this problem halfway by giving business owners a back page to list their name, the name of their business, the nature of their business, and business phone and e-mail information.

That same church also has a strong push for people to submit photos.  They produce their own directory, and so there isn’t the hesitation associated with commercial photographers trying to sell families additional prints and print packages.

In an environmentally-conscious world, some churches have put their church directory online.  A login is necessary so that only members and adherents can access the information, though the same login allows those listed to update their own data.

At the other end of the spectrum, in another church that we are actively involved with, the directory is simply a list of names and phone numbers.  No indication of where people live or if they drive a great distance for worship.  No opportunity to send an e-mail; which really grates on my wife and I, who use online communication extensively.

The other major liability of that system is that children under eighteen are not listed at all.  I’m not sure I can even begin to grasp what kind of message that sends to, for example, the teens in the youth group.  (“You’re not really part of our church family.”)  It’s an oddity that sticks out all the more if your kids are accustomed to seeing their names in such a publication.  The church in question doesn’t really have a large number of children.  Coincidence?

# # #

Send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say…

~Lyrics from the Beatles, “When I’m 64”

In a world where privacy concerns dominate so many discussions, and insurance companies advise churches against anything with the faintest hint of liability, the idea of a church directory may seem like a throwback to a bygone era; however this writer is sold on them.  I even keep a few old ones now and then as a sort of yearbook of memories of what the church family looked like in the past. Once in awhile, I discover someone in the church family who only lives a few blocks away, or someone who lives next door to someone with whom I’ve recently shared my faith journey.

I also remain absolutely convinced that creating e-mail community is absolutely essential, especially as various factors seem to add to the isolation people experience.  Your church may prefer to do this through Facebook community; but do update the thing now and then, okay?  Computer contact is not the same as face-time, but it’s better than nothing.  And those with hesitation can always choose to opt-out of listing their online address, but I find that most choose to share their full contact information.

Also, I cannot minimize the role that both standard telephone contact and e-mail contact can play when someone in the church faces an urgent need for prayer.

# # #

If we’re a family, then family members talk to each other, right?

And church isn’t just something we do on Sunday.

February 1, 2011

Advertisement: Add a Presenter To Your Website

Filed under: internet — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:26 pm

Time Zone Media is based in Atlantic Canada where, speaking of time zones, they’re one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.   (If it’s noon in New York it’s 1:00 PM there.)

Bruce and Moira Allen head up this company, and they are longtime friends of ours, and have been in both the film and website business for many years.  Recently, they’ve been promoting the truth that website effectiveness can be greatly enhanced if you add a live presenter.  They’ve also worked it out so that you can add code that will embed a presentation to an existing website.

Deploying a website spokesperson on your website adds muscle to your marketing efforts. Recent studies show that using video on a website increases click-throughs by as much as eight times that of any other kind of link! That is amazing news for companies who have decided to use a video spokesperson because more click-throughs equals more sales or leads.

No matter where in the world you are, or if you’re a business or a non-profit, check out what they have to offer, and tell them that Paul at Thinking Out Loud sent you!

January 2, 2011

Gutenberg’s Motivation

Filed under: bible, internet — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:43 pm

Though the internet was hardly on the radar in its early days, during the last few years, we’ve watched the explosion of a medium that gives us an insight into what it must have been like to live in those days when the printing press burst on the scene.

Some will know that Gutenberg’s first project was the edition of the Bible that bears his name, but few realize that it was this project that really drove the invention itself:

“Yes, it is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams, the most abundant and most marvelous liquor that has ever flowed to relieve the thirst of men!  Through it, God will spread His Word.  A spring of truth shall flow from it: Like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.”

Johannes Gutenberg

Wikipedia fills in the story of that early Bible:

The Bible sold for 30 florins each, which was roughly three years’ wages for an average clerk.  Nonetheless, it was significantly cheaper than a handwritten Bible that could take a single scribe over a year to prepare.  After printing the text portions, each book was hand illustrated in the same elegant way as manuscript Bibles from the same period written by scribes.

Our world has seen an equally paradigm-smashing development with the internet.    If you haven’t seen it already, take a moment to visit Gary’s Social Media Count.

October 9, 2010

What’s Missing in the Christian Blogosphere?

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends

This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, so I thought I’d take it easy today and throw out a question:  What do you feel is lacking these days in the Christian blogosphere?   What topics aren’t being covered?   What needs aren’t being met?  How can the long-form of blog posts be more effective and fruitful in a world of 140-character tweets and one-sentence status updates?

Or feel free to suggest some area where you feel Christians could make better use of the internet in general.   Or celebrate some who already are.

Update:  Although this is an older blog post; if you find yourself here, feel free to continue to leave a comment.

May 22, 2010

Pornography? Not on Apple Products

Steve Jobs has decided to swim against the current.   I want to re-post some large chunks here of an article that appeared on Monday at the blog, Grace City.

The CEO of Apple Computers has been getting a lot of negative press recently – some people don’t like the way he carefully controls the software and hardware worlds of his computer empire. The most public stir has been created over his refusal to allow apps in the apple store that use or were programmed with Flash. Jobs argues (rightly in my view) that Flash is a buggy, bloated program which slows down computers. Since Jobs is trying to create portable computers that last for 11 or so hours on battery, he wants to avoid Flash. Personally I am more than happy to never see another Flash video on my computer – I can’t stand the way Adobe make their software bloated to the point where it slows my computer down.

Another aspect of Job’s defiance of critics has been less commented on. Jobs has argued that he wants his portable computer devices to not sell or stock pornography.

When a critic emailed him to say that this infringed his freedoms, Jobs emailed back and told him to buy a different type of computer.

Steve Jobs is a fan of Bob Dylan. So one customer emailed him to ask how Dylan would feel about Jobs’ restrictions of customers’ freedoms.

The CEO of Apple replied to say that he values:

‘Freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’ and some traditional PC folks feel their world is slipping away. It is.’

The interlocutor replied:

“I don’t want ‘freedom from porn’. Porn is just fine! And I think my wife would agree.”

In the most revealing line, Steve Jobs dismissed the critic thus:

“You might care more about porn when you have kids.”

Pause for a moment and consider what the above emails represent.

The CEO of one of the wealthiest, most successful international companies, responds to the email of a customer. Business prospers on the mantra ‘The customer is always right.’ Business wants the customers’ money.

But in this case, over the moral issue of pornography, Jobs is happy to tell customers to buy a different product. He argues that children and innocence ought to be preserved – and that trumps the dollar.

Google (with their motto ‘Don’t be evil’) rake in billions through pornography. Ranks of employees spend their time categorizing and arranging advertising for pornography. (I know, I spent some time discussing the difficulties posed to a Christian who worked in their UK HQ) Pornography is huge business, yet here is the CEO of Apple telling the pornography businesses to take their dollars elsewhere.

Now Steve Jobs cannot actually stop pornography being accessed on the devices he sells – indeed you can jailbreak a device and run any pirated software on it. Neither can he necessarily set the ethical bar as high as a Christian may want it – but what he is doing is significant and commendable. He is taking responsibility for doing what he can. He is trying to not profit from pornography. Those deeds are important for the sake of his own soul. Matthew 18:7 comes to mind: “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!”

For the souls of other people, his public statements are valuable in that they permit consumers to identify with and commend his resistance to pornography. Our generation is saturated in pornography; a public statement from Steve Jobs resisting that, encourages others to believe that the secular-liberal-capitalist agenda is not the only show in town. Jobs’ comments are important for the manner in which they shape public cultural discourse.

Okay, so I actually copied the entire blog post.  I just couldn’t find a sentence to leave out.  I think Pete at Grace City, and Steve Jobs especially are on to something here.

Meanwhile,  the blog, Other Side of the World, notes that what is legal in the state of California becomes, by default, accessible around the world, in an article titled Die Pornography, Die!.

Freedom of expression and speech have often been used to defend some pretty vile things. On the internet obscenities are rampant, and produced as though it were legitimate business, when in fact it usually is not just illegitimate, but illegal. Many might be surprised to learn that California is the only state where it is actually legal to hire and pay people to have sex, and even there it supposedly requires a license. A new adult video is shot every 45 minutes, 24 hours a day, year round in California’s San Fernando Valley. Believe it or not, prostitution is still illegal in California. Not sure I’m clear on how porn production is not prostitution. Anyone remember the recent ACORN scandals?

Here is the strange part. On internet servers in virtually every state in the union, this illegal material exists. The peddlers will spam you, your parents, and even your children with provocative images and links in hopes of getting their hooks in, all the while the materials are actually illegal & virtually nothing is done to stop it. Even Google will boot your blog site out if you don’t update it often enough, but will thoroughly spider and reference thousands of pages that contain illegal content. Putting them right at the fingertips of any child who can type a bad word.

Recent news has been full of coverage of the new immigration law in Arizona. President Obama has called this law “irresponsible”. However, let’s just think for a minute. What did they actually do? Well… they decided to make it a crime to be an illegal resident of Arizona. What does illegal mean? How does official enforcement of the law qualify as irresponsible and lack of enforcement qualify as responsible?

That’s the problem with the internet, or any other kind of pornography. There are plenty of things in the US that are illegal, and pornography produced in any state but California would qualify as illegal, however I would submit that failing to enforce the law is the irresponsible part. Our federal government is legislating our socks off, but selectively disregarding major problems that are already matters of standing law. Recent legislation really seems much more focused on facilitating power and control instead of protecting legitimate liberty. Illegal pornography creation, consumption, and public distribution does not qualify as legitimate.

I hope and pray that this porn peddling can get under control. There are existing laws as well as precedents that make a strong case of legal question & the first amendment has faced this issue before. The current precedent at the supreme court level being the “Miller Test” that states:

  • Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,
  • Whether the work depicts/describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law,
  • Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

While there is still clearly a matter of interpretation to be discussed, the courts have consistently required strong merit on the matter of artistry. In short, they consistently find pornography to not be protected under the first amendment. Scholarly consensus also requires regional variation as “community standards” denotes. So California might be off the hook for deciding that their community standards condone such behavior, but for the rest of the United States this stuff still violates legal precedence and the spam, uncensored advertising, and other tactics these peddlers of perversion employ violates our liberty.

No, Mr. President, your definition of irresponsible is quite inverted. What Arizona’s state legislature did was took responsibility and did their duty to those they serve. You, on the other hand, seem to be serving someone else. Pouring your efforts into expanding some Federal Government empire bent on dissolving state sovereignty. Sovereignty that is guaranteed in our Constitution.

Calling all States whose citizens in general find pornography patently offensive (offensive in a clear and unambiguous manner): Please dismantle porn peddling, it is, after all, still considered by most “community standards” to appeal to prurient (Arousing or appealing to sexual desire) desires. The Supreme Court has consistently defied claims of artistic value, with very little remaining defense it is virtually the definition of obscenity. It’s production is illegal in nearly every state in the union. Please, some state, take a stand against this destroyer of families and take steps to end its production and distribution in your sovereign territories.

God, please help us.

Finally, here’s a third item for your consideration, but don’t look for a link for this one.

Playboy magazine has exhibited a rather disturbing trend this year:  First the magazine ran a cover featuring animated character Marge Simpson.   More recently the magazine ran a special issue using a pair of 3-D glass supplied with each issue.

What’s the connection?

In a world where anything pornographic is available on the internet, Playboy desperately wants to keep market share and future market share.   The latter is guaranteed by hooking younger readers.   But with an animated character cover and 3-D glasses, the magazine may actually be trying to interest very younger readers.

You won’t see that suggestion on many blogs or newspaper editorials, but there’s no denying that both recent “features” identify heavily with an audience that is too young to purchase the magazine legally in some states and provinces.

But it’s something that needs to be said.

The author of Thinking Out Loud is also the author of The Pornograph Effect: Understanding for the Wives, Daughters, Mothers, Sisters and Girlfriends.  You can presently read version 1.0 of the book online for free, just click here.   (It’s a reverse-blog; pages come up in book sequence, ‘older entries’ actually yields later chapters.)

If you got here from a internet search tag and this article (and blog) were a million miles different from what you expected, but you have continued to read this far, please know that there is another way of living.   With God’s help, you can quit — cold turkey — in a single day, and I believe you can somewhat  ‘de-toxify’ your brain in as little as a single week.   Find encouragement at XXXChurch.com

HT for Steve Jobs & Apple blog post – Tim Chester

I apologize for the length of this post, but history tells me that many readers don’t do the “continue reading” jump, or click on the links, and this issue is simply too important to not make it easy for the maximum number of blog visitors to read it all.   To the original bloggers of the two articles:  Remind me I owe you some traffic.


April 11, 2010

Just When I Thought I Had “King James Only” All Figured Out

Filed under: bible, cults, internet — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:14 am

Apparently it’s not enough to be King James Only, you have to be “The-Real-King-James Only.”   I’ll have to check all the King James Bibles in the house to see if they comply.    If I can find any.   We generally don’t allow that sort of thing in our house.   Might give the kids the wrong idea.

This is from the Jackson Summit Baptist Church website, which is this week’s pick for Fundamentalist Website of the Week at the blog Stuff Fundies Like.  (But they should really call it a websight because everybody knows that s-i-t-e isn’t the Biblical spelling.)  As one comment noted, after making a big deal out of the word Saviour (the British / Canadian spelling) they spell it “wrong” on their home page.  Ooops!

One thing a lot of them do is change the spelling of words that end with the letters o-u-r to the more modern American spelling of “o-r”.  For example a  Behaviour becomes behavior.  Endeavour becomes endeavor. Favour becomes favor. Honour becomes honor. Labour becomes labor, and Valour becomes valor.  So, what’s wrong with that? Remember what the scripture said about a little leaven leaventh the whole lump?

The worst of this battle of “o-u-r” vs. “o-r” comes when dealing with the only begotten Son of God. The modern day counterfeiters have changed Saviour to Savior. They have given us a six-letter Savior in place of a seven-letter Saviour. In the Bible seven is the number of completeness, purity, and spiritual perfection. On the other hand six is the number of man and is earthly not heavenly. Every one has heard of 666.

The seven-letter Saviour is the only begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The six-letter Savior is the son of perdition, the anti Christ. He wants to be like the most High (Isaiah 14:14,) but not in a good way, but in an evil way.  The new versions, along with the new age movement, and some of the King James Bible counterfeits are preparing the way for this six-letter so called Savior. That’s the way he will spell his name, S-a-v-i-o-r not S-a-v-i-o-u-r.  No thank you Satan. I’m sticking with the seven-letter Saviour as portrayed in the old black Book that I inherited from my forefathers.

January 8, 2010

E-Mail Forwards and Theology

Filed under: internet — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:17 pm

Two unrelated things about e-mail forwards.

First, there are the ones that announce that the FCC is going to remove all religious broadcasting, referencing some petition (number 2493 actually) and urging me to sign and forward a counter-petition to as many people as exist in my computer address book.

While Snopes.com handily refutes this — 2493 having been resolved decades ago, and having nothing to do with taking James Dobson off the air — I’ve always regarded this discussion as being totally limited to my online world.  In other words, nobody in the “real world” has ever gotten even close to this subject.

But then, out of the blue, at a wedding reception last month, I was asked by someone how the removal of all the religious broadcasting from radio and television would affect interest in Christian books.    He was, I think, serious.  It was so very strange to encounter this subject without either my keyboard or monitor close at hand.   In a face-to-face conversation.

Someone had sent him the information and he had taken it at face value.   I assured him it was a hoax, something he was smart enough to accept.   (Accept at face value!    Doesn’t anybody check anything?)   Anyway, if that one reaches your in-box anytime soon, send them the link above.

My other observation on e-mail forwards concerns the ones that are sent containing philosophical platitudes combined with cute stories and breathtaking photography, and an encouragement to send it to everyone you know.

I got one of those today.   It was a PowerPoint presentation containing the aforementioned high resolution pictures which fill the whole screen.   But it also contained practical advice for living.   Frankly, I’d rather see the photograph.  I don’t need a shot of the Grand Canyon spoiled by graphics reminding me to brush my teeth after every meal.

(I don’t think any of them actually said that, but there were forty of them, and for the life of me, I did not remember a single one.    It was sincere, but it was drivel.   And it was wrecking the pictures.)

All of these are sent by Christian friends, and it occurred to me today that very, very rarely do any of them contain scripture.   Hey, I’d settle for a bad paraphrase.   It’s just empty, pop psychological advice splattered over shots of sunsets and oceans.    A Biblical quotation would be a refreshing change.

That got me wondering how much time Christian people spend mentally ingesting somewhat shallow online content that could be spent reading the Bible online.

The Bible comes with a guarantee that its words don’t just bounce off the walls.  If we believe in the inspiration (God-breathed origin) of scripture, then this is what the Bible is saying about itself in Isaiah 55:11 –

It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.   ( ~ NLT)

So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them  (  ~ Message)

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. ( ~ Amplified)

Thus it is of my word which leaves my mouth:  It does not return to me without effect;  without having carried out my will and achieving my intentions.   ( – Louis Segond, trans.)

If you really wanna ‘bless’ someone today, forward them a hand-picked Bible verse just for them. But do this quickly before all the Christian programs are taken off the air, and then they decide to remove all Bible portions from the internet.

July 29, 2009

Blogroll Backstory

Filed under: blogging, internet — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:15 pm

So here are the answers to all the questions that have come through my “contact us” page, which wasn’t working properly anyway; and has now been revised.

  1. Thanks for saying you come to see the blogroll.   Uh,  you do read the posts, too; right?
  2. Although it’s been somewhat static for the past eight weeks, officially, sites come and go off the list.   Some sites seem to get off-message for awhile and then they bounce back; so they’re put back on the list.   One blog has been on and off about three times now.
  3. Blogs that don’t post for three weeks generally get de-listed.   I try to focus on blogs that are posting regularly.   Especially now, as Homer Simpson would say, that the internet is available on computer.
  4. Size matters.   Typesize.   Every post here at TOL gets customized to a stronger, bigger font because the template for this theme is teeny, tiny type.    It adds about ten seconds to each day’s post.  Call it: Blogging – Large Print Edition.
  5. I did my own customization to the drab gray and changed everything to bright red.   It looked really cool.   Then I tried to apply it and discovered you have to pay for CSS customization.    Oh well.    If you know HTML, CSS isn’t that hard to learn.    Now I’ve forgotten it all, though I kept the style sheet.
  6. I chose the gray theme for the wide border.    I downloaded a wide-body theme from John Scaddington at the blog Human3rror called “I Like Content” but you can only use it if you’re on self-hosting wordpress.org; as opposed to wordpress.com
  7. I don’t list blogs that spend endless time talking about the technology itself, nor FaceBook, nor Twitter, nor BlackBerry, etc.   At TOL, the medium is NOT the message.    This post means I would disqualify myself.
  8. I like blogs that stay on a Christian theme.    If you talk about your spouse and kids, I suppose that’s truer to the original web-log concept, but I like blogs that get into talking about church, doctrine, apologetics, theology, application, etc.
  9. An exception would be Resolved to Worship.   I needed more links to sites women would relate to.   I think we can all learn much from what Ann posts, but I don’t actually read much of it.    It’s my gift to my women readers.    Bonus points if you can figure out where they live; the kids never wear shoes.  Never.   I figured it was Australia or something, but then they celebrated the 4th of July.   I’m leaning toward Key West or San Diego.
  10. I try to balance the Wesleyans and the Reformers.   Actually, as the saying goes, some of my best friends are Reformers, but they get a lot of link love elsewhere.   I don’t link the obvious ones, just to tick some people off.
  11. The “fun” links are there because some of you take yourselves way too seriously.    Take some time out and do the Jumble Puzzle, or some of the ones at USA Today.
  12. I didn’t delete Daily Encouragement, it’s now listed under Devotions instead of Blog.   Everybody needs friends like Stephen and Brooksyne.   As John Denver once sang, “Life in Amish Country is kinda laid back…”
  13. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.    Actually, I was about to delete this one guy, ’cause he was getting hopelessly off topic, and then I realized that I was on his links.    He’s still there, but he’s on probation.  You know who you are.
  14. Check out the “Five Questions” series Rick has been doing periodically at the Just a Thought blog.   Some talk shows get all the good guests.
  15. We’re up to three variations on the “Stuff Christians Like” theme.   Jon Acuff is one of my few must-read blogs, provided we’re not stuck in a hotel where “Free Wireless” means nothing.
  16. Reviewed a book?   Link to A**z*n and you’re toast.   I’m the head of the Society for the Preservation of Christian Bookstores.   SPCB.    (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “and then he’s going to bring back rotary dial phones.”   Well you’re wrong.   I was thinking more of hymnbooks.   See we just take all the modern worship choruses and put them in a book and give them all a number…)   Anyway, a town that loses its Christian bookstore has lost far more than a retail enterprise.
  17. The number of blogs I have in my personal bookmarks is approximately three times what’s listed here.   I try to get to all of them at least once a week.   Some of my best writing is in their comments section.   You can sometimes write better when you’re reacting to something.
  18. Alltop is the blog-aggregator place to be.   The “badge” on the sidebar currently links to Alltop Church (modern Church), but previously linked to Alltop Christian.   I suggest visiting both reguarly.   Hover your mouse over each story to read the first hundred words or so.
  19. The highest single-day hits here have come from posting the Vietnam War photo and blogging about Robert Schuller (Jr. and Sr.)  One of those posts attracts comments from people who seem to think they are posting directly to Robert A. himself; despite two comments by myself telling them to knock it off.    He won’t get the message.
  20. If you don’t like my blogroll you can always scroll down to my ‘pages’ section and click on “Stealing Anne Jackson’s Blogroll.”   I tried a few of the links last week and got to read some really interesting stuff.
  21. I have no 21st point
  22. I have no 22nd point
  23. I have no 23rd point
  24. The link to my book celebrates a one-year anniversary tomorrow.   And this blog itself continues to go another day without a single YouTube embed.   (I embedded four of them in one day on my book industry blog just to reassure myself I could do it.)

So there you have it.  24 points of interest about my blogroll.   And you were there.

Sites/blogs mentioned here are all in the blogroll itself.   Clicky clicky.

Did he just say ‘Clicky, clicky?’

July 8, 2009

It’s Almost Naptime

Filed under: family, internet — Tags: , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:32 pm

In its earlier incarnation with another host, Thinking Out Loud was drawing a comfortable fifty readers per day.    I was happy that anybody was reading, but I think it’s a male trait to want to see the growth of any enterprise to which you’re giving oversight.

I put a blog counter on, and then joined Alltop Christianity, and later Alltop Church, and then more recently added Christian Blogs, whose icon is always in the sidebar of this blog.   (My first connection to this Christian website aggregator was David Fisher’s Pilgrim Scribblings blog, also listed in the sidebar.)

As this blog started to grow, and approach page one of Christian Blogs, and then the top ten, and then the top three, I started to feel bad about the idea of beating The Persecution Blog, the official blog of Voice of the Martyrs.   My idle ramblings somewhat pale next to people who are giving their lives for their faith.

Missy & Co from NaptimeBut I also became aware of It’s Almost Naptime.   Missy and Walker have had four kids in four years.   That’s a lot of laundry, and Missy doesn’t hesitate to photograph the pile of clothing next to the washer.

This is blogging at its most grassroots basic.   A true ‘web log’ of what it’s like having all those children underfoot.  No wonder Missy has hundreds of daily readers — over 900 one day last week.

But it’s also about the lessons that children teach us about ourselves and our Heavenly Father.      It’s raw, and it’s transparent and it’s sometimes like this:

I knew God loved me, he officially had to, the Bible tells me so, yeah yeah. But how could God possibly really love me, unconditionally, me being so stinky and sticky and such a flop at being a “good Christian”??

That’s a paragraph from a special page on It’s Almost Naptime tabbed “What I Really Want You To Know” and titled God Thinks You Rock The Casbah.    I want you to click on the link and read the whole article.   Especially if you’re looking at the whole Christ-following deal as someone looking inside the window of a house from the outside on a cold day.

It’s gonna bump her stats today, and she’ll definitely beat me again today in the readership race, but at least the guilt about beating The Persecution Blog will be her problem.

April 21, 2009

Overload of Social Media Causes Man’s Head To Explode

MI-064-0295

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, YouTube, Picassa… Is it more than our human brains are meant to process?    That’s the question I posed in the comments section of Anne Jackson’s blog today.

While the header for this post is fictional — or has it already happened? — the question it raises is serious:  How much is too much?

First, here’s a little bit of what Anne wrote:

Let’s say all the people who follow me on Twitter and myself were in a big room at the same time.  My friend Joe is somewhere in this room talking about his wife who just had a baby. I’m across the room by the food table eating a cookies. And cupcakes.

And in between us are 3300 other people talking.

Now let me ask you a few questions:

Am I going to hear my friend Joe over all the other conversations?

Am I even going to be able to make sense of all the noise 3300 people talking at once?

No way.

Any of you old enough to remember to remember the Paul McCartney song “Silly Love Songs” will know there’s a part at the end where it breaks into a rather nice three-part counterpoint (probably the most complex thing he’s ever written).    It starts out with a somewhat descending melody:

How can tell you about my loved one?

And then they add a simple ascending melody:

I love you

Finally overlaying the more intricate:

I just can’t explain the feeling’s plain to me; say can’t you see?
Ah, she gave me more, she gave it all to me

Around the time this came out, I was studying some much more orchestral music with a man who had a doctorate in music.   While you can argue what I’m about to say, he claimed that the human brain was only capable of processing two of the lines of the song at once.    You know there are three playing, and you can quickly compare A +  B,  B + C, or A + C; but he claimed that in any given moment in time you can’t actually be fully processing all three of them.

(So you can talk on your cell phone and drive your car, but as soon as you add chewing gum to the mix, everything, including yourself, goes out the window.)

I also often wondered what the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease is going to be among those of us who currently thrive on either an encyclopedic knowledge, a preponderance towards multi-tasking, or both.  (Both, but not three things, since you wouldn’t be able to truly process three things!)

I also wonder if God has not placed certain limits on what we’re capable of doing and we’re trying to exceed those limits — building our own, individual, personal Tower of Babel to stretching human limitation.

Anyway, here’s what I scrawled on Anne’s blog:

Social media is producing a generation heading for a collective insanity. Your brain was only meant to track so many things at one time. Perhaps the people Twittering are actually teetering on the brink…

I try to keep my posts short and succinct.   There’s only so much people can take.

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