Thinking Out Loud

May 5, 2020

One Year After: Beth Moore’s Tribute to Rachel Held Evans

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the death of Rachel Held Evans.

At least ten times now I’ve found things on Twitter threads which I feel are worthy of exposure to an audience who simply don’t use Twitter. Recent examples of people we’ve posted here include Wade Mullen, Tish Warren Harrison, Skye Jethani, John Mark Comer, Mark Clark, Sheila Wray Gregoire, etc.

Why didn’t the writers simply put the material on their own blog? I think they see that these are very different audiences. Twitter is a very distinct collection of people. But I’m sharing this for blog readers in this format out of sheer admiration for Rachel Held Evans, and Beth Moore’s perspective on the connection they had, which also is part of a larger Twitter or Facebook situation, but one I’m sure Thinking Out Loud readers can appreciate.

Longtime readers here will be surprised to see me giving this platform to Beth Moore. A year ago, I would say I was very pro-Rachel Held Evans and not-so-much-Beth Moore. It’s now a year later. I’ve seen Beth Moore completely differently over the past 12 months. I’ve changed. She’s changed.

To read the original tweets, click this link.


by Beth Moore

Want to tell you a story. I got a text from my daughter a year ago today. Two words: Rachel died. She was referring to Rachel Held Evans.

I went to the floor sobbing, “No no no no, Lord, please no.” We’d prayed so hard. Pleaded so hard. I never met Rachel. We had a unique relationship. I ask for your grace to tell the story, a story about life in this insane social media culture. I ask you to listen instead of lurch.

Rachel and I had been on opposite sides of several issues. Our familiarity to one another was limited to the controversial. My knowledge of her was based on whatever my part of the world retweeted or circulated about her. We got into it a few times and, let me just say, you didn’t want to get into it with Rachel. I say these words with a smile and tears in my eyes. I never had an opponent in my life I respected more.

In a faith world drowning in hypocrisy, I knew that girl was earnest to the bone. One of the really awful things about social media is that two people who disagree may respect certain rules of engagement and not go for the jugular, but their camps can often mob the other viciously.

I can’t tell you how many times I have watched people say things to others as if on my behalf and I’m thinking to myself, I would never in my life talk like that to her or him. Stop! It’s very disturbing. I don’t like it no matter what that person has done to me.

It was one of those times. Both of our camps were mob-bullying the other. I wanted to direct-message her to check on her but I didn’t know how to do it without following her on Twitter. So I did. She answered me almost immediately. It was brief. Talked about what impact constantly being hit has on the soul.

Then I was left with a most interesting conundrum. I had followed her on Twitter. Was I to unfollow her or keep following her? In those days I still cared that people could make certain assumptions from who you followed. I could not care less anymore but that’s a different story.

I thought, well that’s a fine kettle of fish. We just held out a bit of an olive branch to one another and now I am going to unfollow her and she is going to know it. Seemed unkind and hypocritical to me so I kept following and some of you are not going to believe what I discovered.

Rachel Held Evans was a real live person. She was not the embodiment of all her controversial retweets. She was a multilayered human. She talked about her children. Her man. Her life. She got the flu during that period and I prayed for her and wrote her name in my journal. “Rachel.”

I replied to this or that tweet about regular stuff. She did the same. We did not become best friends nor big direct-message buddies but I’d like to make the point that, for Rachel and me, we became something more important: Real people to one another. We were more than our stands. Rachel and I were, hands-down, the two most hated women in the Christian media world. By fellow Christians, of course and for different reasons. That was our unique connection. And two people have to occasionally see how the other is holding up under the strain. Make no mistake. IT IS A STRAIN.

I’d already been praying for her when she got that last flu. I saw her shout-out when she said, “If you’re the praying kind.” I replied what she already knew. I was praying kind. And now the tears flow. I prayed so hard. I printed out a picture of her and taped it up at Living Proof Ministries. Told my staff what they, of course, already knew, “She is not a social media account. She is a person. This is what she looks like. Here is the picture of her with her husband and children.”

I still have that picture on my phone. I sent her a direct message while she was in that coma. Told her something to the effect of, I will stand over you in prayer continually and then please come back and, well, what I meant was, drive me crazy.

She didn’t.

To all her real live loved ones: I have prayed for you so hard this year. I am so deeply sorry for your loss.

 

 

April 3, 2020

Welcome to Social Media: Content Creators Need Not Apply

Filed under: Christianity, writing — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:04 pm

When you think about it, social media platforms never need create a single article. Facebook wants you to create content for them to surround with advertising, and if it’s been awhile since you did, they will send you a reminder. Twitter has never published anything significant either, and dare I say that’s also true of WordPress.

When the social media thing — much less the internet itself — started growing exponentially a dozen or so years ago, I thought I was set. I was a writer. All these sites need content, right? I even looked into registering a business — Content Factory — only to discover several others had beat me to that particular name.

Today, the internet of 2020 tolerates typos, grammatical and syntax errors, and let’s not even think about spelling. Everyone is a writer (and everyone is now a photographer) with varying results.

Earlier today John Mark McMillan asked his Twitter followers if there were a better word than ‘content.’

I’d like to propose we all stop using the word “content”. When I think about making “content” I die a little. It sounds like filler, stuffing… air in a balloon. Does anyone have any better words we can use for the meaningful work we’ve all give our lives to?

(I’ve corrected his spelling of balloon; I didn’t need him proving my point.)

I wrote back,

I noticed this a few months ago when it comes to writing. We usually refer to having seen an
• article
• item
• piece
which is somewhat non-descriptive.

Others suggested

  • pith
  • art
  • creations
  • the goods
  • offerings
  • portfolio
  • stories

As I type this, his tweet is just four hours old. Feel free to add your own descriptor. What’s a good word to describe the written output of people on social media?

 

February 10, 2019

From the Twitterverse

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:30 am

My social media worlds don’t necessarily overlap much, but my WordPress world and my Twitter world are closer. Even so, you may not have seen these (and a few retweets) …

September 7, 2018

Social Media: What It’s Doing to Us

Some of you may have seen this on Facebook.

That’s rather ironic; since it does not paint the social media platform favorably.

The timing on this is interesting, since I was planning to write about this topic anyway. I’m not opposed to technology, nor do I resent the application of social networking. Rather, I was going to write something like, “I just want to go back in time and use the internet as it was in 2003.” That’s right; 15 years ought to do it.

Anyway, see what you think. Someone put some thought into this, but it hasn’t had many views and no public comments as of yesterday. (Perhaps this isn’t the original post.)

November 9, 2017

The Essential Art of Concision

I debated between calling this “The Lost art of Concision” versus “The Developing Art of Concision.” First, a definition is in order:

Therefore, when I speak of the concision as a developing art, I mean the necessity of being able to put ideas across in a short-and-to-the-point manner; something you need in a world of soundbites. Last year I wrote,

It was Noam Chomsky who introduced me to the idea of concision. I’ve taught it as, “You’re selling your car through a media which is charging you $1.50 per word. How do you describe your vehicle persuasively, but keep the cost down?”

But when I speak of it as a dying art, I’m thinking specifically of the migration of many bloggers from what I’m doing now — typing/writing words — to podcasting; and to Twitter’s decision to gift everyone with 140 additional characters on Tuesday evening.

Twitter is obsessed with the number 140. (Originally videos were limited to 2 minutes and 20 seconds, which is 140 seconds.)  The new length, 280 characters, doubles this even though 160 would have been a nice gift in itself. Or 180 or 200. 280 seems long, it seems to rob Twitter of it’s basic character, heretofore. But I didn’t always feel that way. When I joined, I wrote:

I can’t say what I have to say in 140 characters.

In case you missed it, I tend to write long.

But the word concision has come up on this blog somewhat frequently. Earlier this year I wrote,

I have for a long time questioned how much time sermon has left.  With all due respect to those of you currently honing your homiletic craft at either the undergraduate or graduate level, I really think that this particular form is destined to go the way of the CD or the land line phone. I’m not saying there aren’t some great preachers out there; I spend my evening hours listening to sermon after sermon online. But that’s me. For others there are a host of reasons why sermon doesn’t work. ADD or ADHD comes to mind. Some sermons are simply too long. Some say it’s just not how they learn. Some claim that high profile Christian pastors have simply set the bar too high and average pastors can’t achieve the quality that is now widely available online. Others would argue that we’ve become accustomed to media bursts, sound bites, and increased concision.

The Bible itself is amazingly concise. Readers are often fascinated to learn how narratives they had heard about — Creation, Jonah, The Prodigal Son — when they actually got around to reading them, were expressed in a very limited fashion. In an article about Christ’s ascension the subject was raised (pun intended):

A reader wrote, “We’re told… at his ascension that he will come again in like manner as they have seen him go.” But what do we know about that manner? How long were the disciples staring as he rose into the sky? Was there a low cloud ceiling that day? The Bible’s tendency to brevity and concision makes me think that perhaps God didn’t just beam Jesus up, but his ascension may have have been more prolonged; a vertical processional to heaven.

It also came up in a piece on diminishing attention spans:

You see this in the way books and articles in periodicals are written now; in fact you’re seeing it in the piece you’re presently reading. Pick up an older book — say 60 years or more old — and you might find an entire page consisting of a single paragraph. You might even find several consecutive pages consisting of a single paragraph. (I’m told that some chapters of Paul’s epistles were often a single sentence in the original Greek, no doubt a weaving of dominant and subordinate clauses that the reader of that time would follow easily.)

Today we use paragraph breaks to keep the content flowing; to keep the eyes moving on the page; to force us writers to adopt a greater degree of concision. Our writing is also broken up by more numbered or alphanumeric lists, by bullet points, by sub-headers and by pull quotes. (We use them often at Christianity 201, where the devotions are by definition somewhat longer, and we want to make what would otherwise be an entire page of text more interesting.)

The trend towards podcasting is actually surprising, given the push toward brevity in a bullet-point world. Have you ever thought of what a full transcript of your favorite podcast would look like printed out? It would run for pages and pages. A blog post on a similar topic would be less than 2,000 words, and easily digested in under 7 minutes. (Or spoken in 15 minutes. Compare word length to spoken time at this speech minutes converter.)  We wrote about podcasts on an article on the trend from literacy to orality:

Inherent in podcasting is the right to ramble. Listeners get the nuance that’s missing in a traditional blog post (and this is one of the great liabilities of email) but they have to take the time to wade through the host(s) stream-of-consciousness narration. There’s no concision, a quality that decades ago Noam Chomsky had predicted would be, moving forward, a key asset in communications. A great concept that’s probably a seven or eight paragraph blog post instead becomes a 53 minute podcast.  Andy Warhol’s comment that “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes;” might be modified to, “In the 21st century, everyone will have their own talk show or be the host of their own radio station.” 

As Christian communicators however, we have to be careful when we try to reduce to mystery or complexity of the gospel to a concise motto, slogan, tag line or formula. In an article titled What is the Gospel, I wrote,

I also think that, when considered in the light of the Jewish appreciation of the scriptures as a great jewel that reflects and refracts the light in infinite ways each time we look at it, the idea of trying to formulate a precis of the Bible is to venture into an endless and perhaps even frustrating mission. What would Jesus think of trying to consolidate something so great, so wide, so high, so deep into a finite number of words?  Concision is great, but maybe it doesn’t work here.

Anyway Twitter, thanks for the extra characters; but I earnestly hope I have the wisdom to not overuse them. Readers, it’s a busy world out there; keep it short!


Yes, today I basically quoted myself throughout this article. To further embellish Chomsky’s teaching on concision would have made the article…well…not so concise.

For those mystified by the final graphic image, TL/DR stands for Too long, didn’t read.

For further reference in thinking about the difference between podcasting and blogging, this article is less than 1,100 words; you can halve the minutes in the above example.

 

February 11, 2017

Life in the Twitterverse

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:10 am

Occasionally I take a day to simply reproduce Tweets here for those who don’t use that platform. For those of you with slow loading times, we’re just doing text, but you’re encouraged to visit me at Twitter.com/PaulW1lk1nson (change the letter “i” to number “1”) or simply click here and bookmark.

  • Fun car game: Flip the radio to various Christian stations carrying preacher programs and see who can first guess what major Bible story they’re doing.
  • ♫ This ban is your ban |This ban is my ban |From the Syrian desert | To the streets of I-ran… | …This ban was made for you and me. ♫
  • Attn. Middle-aged worship team members: If you wanna do all those songs which come out of youth culture, simply let the youth worship team play ’em
  • [Drew Dyck] When it comes to end times prognosticating, the trick is to change up the antichrist candidates while keeping the 1980s designs & graphics.
  • Buffalo newscaster just said, “If you go out without your gloves, you’re going to have some cold hands on your hands.”
  • The people making Christian giftware do know there are other scripture verses besides Jeremiah 29:11, right?
  • Ever wonder what’s hot and what’s not in Christian publishing? This link takes you to a pdf of the full Top 50 list
  • What does it profit a man to gain the office of President of the United States and lose the entire populace? [Mark 8:36 amended]
  • How tattoos work: Once you chose Option #1, you’ve automatically eliminated Options #2 to 999,999.
  • [Youth Group Boy] Rather than build a wall Trump just needs to talk to my church – they’ve kept minorities and those who are different out for years.
  • Need to rethink the classic Neil Diamond song: ♫ On the boats and on the planes They’re coming to America… ♫  — not anymore!
  • [Diane Lindstrom] “Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

 

December 13, 2014

Facebook Pulling Back Feeds of Status Updates for Businesses, Churches

Sample of Church Facebook Page

From home-based hobby sales, to cottage industries, to small business, to corporations having 500,000 likes, Facebook is scaling back the practice of putting posts into the feeds of readers, and the policy change has impact for non-profits and churches as well.

facebook-logo-289-75Many small businesses currently operate as a ‘page’ adjunct to an individual’s personal Facebook profile. Just as you ‘friend’ the person, you ‘like’ the business. Years ago, Facebook started restricting what you see from individuals and business alike.  The logic went, ‘if you have 300 friends and they post twice a day, you’d have 600 updates to read daily.’

But small businesses noticed that much of what they posted wasn’t getting to anyone, with averages of 16% being normal. If someone took the effort to visit the page, they could see everything, but most people who ‘check Facebook’ read only what the algorithm assigns to their feed.

Instead they were being told to ‘boost’ each post with a payment ranging — for small business — between $5 and $33. Many times the posts weren’t even selling anything, but updating readers on local events in an effort to build community.

Then last month, the Wall Street Journal reported things would change more severely:

The change will make it more difficult for entrepreneurs… to reach fans of their Facebook pages with marketing posts that aren’t paid advertising.

Businesses that post free marketing pitches or reuse content from existing ads will suffer “a significant decrease in distribution,” Facebook warned in a post earlier this month announcing the coming change…

…More than 80% of small companies using social media to promote their businesses list Facebook as their top marketing tool, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter, according to a recent survey of 2,292 small businesses by Webs, a digital services division of Vistaprint. The top three reasons owners cited for creating a Facebook page were customer acquisition, building a network of followers and increasing brand awareness, according to the survey.

Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president of small business, says that Facebook’s paid-advertising options have become more effective recently and that companies should view Facebook as a tool to “help them grow their businesses, not a niche social solution to getting more reach or to make a post go viral.”

He says he has “a lot of empathy” for business owners who “are feeling this evolution” in the reduction of what he describes as organic reach. But, he says, organic reach is only one of several reasons companies benefit from having a presence on Facebook. Last month, there were more than one billion visits to Facebook pages directly. “Having a presence where you can be discovered still has a ton of value,” he says…

This is a small part of the entire article, click here to read at WSJ.

But it gets worse, as churches and non-profits will also be affected.  One writer suggests the strategy over the next few months should be to get those Facebook friends to respond to something that provides their email address (and in countries where applicable, express consent for placing them on on a list.)

Over the past 18 months, one of the biggest challenges with Facebook marketing is not knowing exactly what changes are on the horizon and how it will impact organic reach. We believe that eventually organic reach on larger nonprofit Facebook pages will reach close to 0%, so marketing on Facebook will significantly change.

Read more at NonBoardBoard

One website, while overtly trying to sell a print report, offers some clues:

The ability to build communities of fans, and then maintain contact and encourage engagement using content published to fans’ News Feeds was a critical aspect of Facebook’s early appeal to marketers. The opportunity of achieving engagement at scale motivated many brands and corporates to invest millions in developing communities and providing for care and feeding via always-on content…

This isn’t an academic exercise. Facebook Zero is a reality now facing every brand and business with a presence on the platform. Action is required, and specific decisions will need to be made with regard to content planning, paid support for social media activities, audience targeting and much more.

Read more at Ogilvy.com

But social media of one kind or another is so essential. In a recent 48-minute podcast at the aptly-named Church Marketing Sucks, the director of Social Media for Saddleback Church offered a number suggestions as well as stressing the importance of social media for churches.

Listen to the podcast here.

The same website also offered suggestions for using social media at Christmas. While most of these arrive too late for this year, you could file them away for 2015, but with Facebook Zero coming soon, the information may seem antiquated a year from now, or even sooner.

Want to switch your emphasis over to Instagram. I wouldn’t. Remember, in 2012, Facebook paid $1 Billion to acquire the photo site. What’s happening on FB will certainly follow on Instagram.

Twitter, anyone?

This page is a reminder that what Facebook decides here has worldwide impact on Churches and Christian charities.

This Facebook page image serves as a reminder that what Facebook decides here has worldwide impact on Churches and Christian charities. That’s 2,868 people the organization is engaging with in the UK that it now has to find other means to reach.

September 17, 2013

Frittering Your Day Away on Twitter

Filed under: links, media, quotations — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:11 am

 

I’m glad I decided to restrict my exposure to Twitter. I don’t know how people do it; do they have 36-hour days that I don’t? How do you follow a thousand people?

I find that trying to condense my thoughts into fortune-cookie sized wisdom-bites just about impossible. However, for what it’s worth, here’s what the last few weeks have looked like on @PaulW1lk1nson with annotations:

  • Elevation pastor Steven Furtick’s 2 1/2 minute sermon highlights video offers a refreshing approach to giving. http://ow.ly/o41vu
  • [Contrary to the 2nd commandment:] Paper money and coins carry the image of human government and leaders, therefore Christians should pay for everything with debit and credit.
  • I think some men validate their masculinity by the noise volume level of their power tools. [Written while trying to relax at a friend’s cottage… my wife just wanted to hear the loons, but the atmosphere was rather looney!]
  • At Newspring, pastor @perrynoble invites the congregation to vote on future sermon topics! http://newspring.cc/ask/
  • I wonder if instead of just teaching kids and teens abstinence, we would do well to throw in a few lessons on delayed gratification.
  • “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” – G.K. Chesterton  (quoted by: @EugeneCho]
  • “It isn’t possible to burn out if you’ve never actually been on fire.” ~Perry Noble
  • Creation care: Urban municipalities should enact bylaws that you can’t cut down a tree unless you’re going to replace it with a new one.
  • “Humble Theology” means we approach Scripture with an understanding of our inadequacy to grasp with certainty everything taught in the Bible [“Humble Theology” is a concept I discovered reading @DanKimball in the 2012 book, Adventures in Churchland published by @Zondervan]
  • @johnortberg — Great idea for Christian cartoon show–the disciples as little boys: ‘The Tiny Twelve’ Bet it happens
  • Faith is about relaxing in the way we do when we are with a friend who we know for certain is fond of us.- Catholic theologian James Allison
  • Pastors vary as to “office hours” but “hours” spent outside the office, i.e. in the community at large, are often most productive ministry.
  • Pastors: If you’re preaching to the choir, then you probably have your back to the congregation.
  • In Quebec, Canada, ‘tabernacle’ is a swear word, sort of like saying “Jesus” as an expletive. [But isn’t it interesting that, in keeping with Catholic priorities, the church is preeminent over Jesus, even when blaspheming?]
  • Today my wife asked why I’ve never helped when one of our cats had to go to the vet to be euthanized. My response? “I’m Anabaptist. We’re a pacifist denomination.”
  • This morning a rare face-to-face meet-up with a regular reader of http://christianity201.wordpress.com/  She starts her day at C201; awesome responsibility!
  • [attended a] Lively concert with the band newworldson @newworldson
  • In the tradition of “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,” we bring you, “An Ox Looks at Being Unequally Yoked.” New from Oxdervan Publishing.
  • The Biebs, in New York City for Fashion Week, heads to a Hillsong-affiliated church: http://www.americapreachers.com/entertainment/justin-bieber-thanks-pastor-amazing-sermon/ …
  • From a Canadian perspective, party politics at the municipal level or county level must automatically eliminate many good potential candidates.
  • When people on other planets find the Voyager spacecraft and the long-play record we sent them, what exactly will they play it on? Seriously, we sent them a record?
  • I want to start promoting the idea that “the mark of the beast” described in Revelation 13:17 is actually a reference to Google. [Six letters, too.]
  • I asked my wife if she wanted to see a counselor to talk about her nightmares, but at $80 an hour, she thinks the nightmares are cheaper.
  • A classic Canadian “inspirational” rock song! Copperpenny “Help Your Brother” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4pjee9Npu0 …
  • Imagine if your cell/mobile phone had component parts that you upgraded instead of discarding it? Much less waste! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDAw7vW7H0c …
  • Unexplainable things on Twitter: How former UK resident @SheilaWalsh could become a big fan of American college football. Don’t tell her British friends!
  • Rare YouTube gem: Phil Keaggy Band in Cleveland, 1978 w/ Phil Madeira “Mighty Lord” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNZMfoadpaI …
  • A classic Canadian “inspirational” rock song! Copperpenny “Help Your Brother” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4pjee9Npu0 …

But I do love how Greg Boyd @greg_boyd totally ignores the 140-character limit and just continues from one Tweet to the next:

  • I just got COMPLETELY SLAUGHTERED in our worship service!!! BAWLED non-stop through two songs. The REALITY of God’s love overwhelmed me! When any group people are 100% focused on Christ in worship, each person becomes a conduit for God’s presence–and WHAM! It’s spectacular! It’s like the whole atmosphere of the room gets electrified! It’s as if the music and singing acquires a different dimension or something! I know many of u know what I’m talking about. One taste of this and you understand why heaven will never become boring! He is SO BEAUTIFUL! The one downer is that afterwards, your heart aches for every person on the planet to experience THIS!

November 29, 2010

Social Media Overload: Sabbatical or Sabbath?

From Dictionary.com:

Sab·bat·i·cal
/səˈbætɪkəl/ [suh-bat-i-kuhl] –adjective

5. ( lowercase ) any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, esp. for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.

and

Sab·bath
/ˈsæbəθ/ [sab-uhth] –noun

2. – the first day of the week, Sunday, similarly observed by most Christians in commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ.

I think you know where I’m going with this.   There would be a lot fewer people burning out on social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) if they practiced the concept of Sabbath.   Then they wouldn’t need a sabbatical.

I grew up around people who had all kinds of arbitrary Sunday rules:  No television, no sports, no swimming, etc.   I always swore I wouldn’t be that kind of parent.   But early on we sensed the need for a Sunday computer Sabbath.     Now that the kids are in their late teens, we don’t have full compliance every week, but as for myself, the computer doesn’t get switched on until around 4:30 PM.

You really do need to take a break now and then.


Here’s a post about the actual words used to mandate a day of rest

Related post from last month about working at home on Sunday

February 27, 2010

David, Goliath: Follow Them on Twitter

Filed under: Humor — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:25 pm

We ran this a year ago, but it’s one of my favorite pieces from the blog The Christian Ranter. Don’t forget that in Twitter, as in blogging, to catch the sequence of what follows you want to start reading from the bottom up.   (RSS subscribers please visit the blog for this one.)

david-vs-goliath

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