The intersection between theology and Cluetrain rantings



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  Saturday, October 18, 2003

A fairly substantial and important rant ,  if I can say so myself.  I did it over on my MT (now WP) blog ,  entitled Cluetrain and Theoblogical
1:41:55 PM    comment []

  Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Whoa man!  Some real "stickin' it to 'em/us"  from Jordon Cooper in these three posts (this one and the two before/below it):

I wonder if the reason that churches are afraid to engaged in the online discussion is that we know how unattractive our churches are to the new generation of postmodern church attenders and instead of facing that and fixing it, we would just rather bury our head in the sand and leave it to the next person who pastors the church. As long as the church keeps focusing on unconnected builders and boomers, the harder the paradigm shift to those who are a part of the digital culture is going to be.

9:58:24 PM    comment []

Excellent point. I have also found myself shaking my head when I see the Church passing up the oppotunities to participate in REAL conversations.  (I say REAL,  because much of what we do now,  IN THE CHURCH meetings,  is not conversation at all.  I have not felt known at all via traditional Church channels and activities in , oh,  11 or 12 years.  Jordon continues:

People online aren't real because they don't sit in our pews, they don't help our numbers in our denominational reports, and they rarely tithe (although I believe people will give to a community they find compelling enough to give to).

9:54:12 PM    comment []

Great Stuff from Jordon Cooper:

...This hits at what I think is the root of why the church fears the web. Many churches generally won't allow individuals the freedom to create compelling content and enter into a conversation. Churches aren't friendly to conversation. The worship is lead from the worship leader. The sermon is prepared and presented by the pastor. The congregation watches. It is one way communication. Early on when I was fooling around online I was apart of a mailing list that was hosted by Ginghamsburg Church's web team. Around forty or fifty of us would talk about web ministry and help each other out. One of the topics that kept coming up was how do we fit the web team into the traditional command and control structure of the church and have content approved and things properly vetted. The church didn't trust anyone to create any content. It needed a committee to make sure it was all okay. It was before the Cluetrain Manifesto was out and articulated it for us but it was true, organizations can't have a conversation and I think organizations also fear the individual....

9:43:16 PM    comment []

  Monday, June 23, 2003

A couple or 3 weeks ago, Ken Walker wrote an article that was a great Biblical articulation of something which I had noticed and written about in Allowing Voice. I was bemoaning the tendency of Churches to want to "be the whole content"; to have the people depend upon it (and its leaders) for the whole shootin' match. That tends to make Churches a whole lot like marketers. They want to "define" the needs, and then provide the "right perspective" on them, and sends us home all warm and fuzzy, all the while most of us go home feeling like no more of ourselves has been known.

This is why this refusal of the Church to recognize the potential for the online tools in the "furtherance" of distributing our stories and our experiences to each other is SO infuriating to me. It keeps me, and people like me in this experience, from being known, and results in our "missing out" on each other, and in the process, on the opportunity to discover what we have to learn from one another. The temptation to be "the authorities" has , like it has the martketers, kept the Church from being able to see how its very life depends on the community. Pentecost depends upon it.

But instead, the Church takes on the "push" model of evangelism, and seeks to plan a program and "run us through it", a nd send us home, all "filled up". Like Ken points out in his reflection on Galatains 4:8-20, the Church is all ga-ga on getting things clicking, and utilizes business processes and "organizational skills" and somehow misses that there are numerous "callings" going on out there, as God works to call a people to various ministries. Marketers are concerned with identifying a need (or inventing one, based on mapnipulation of real needs) and then providing the solution in some product or service.

The Church , of course, can use all the resources it can get, but the most precious resource is the discernment of call, a nd hleping its members find that, or listen for it, and encourage one another as we all seek to understand how that is happening in our own lives; what gifts God has given us and how that enables us to address a particular problem by providing some way to call others into collaborative effort to rectify it (the identified problem). Ken writes: Paul doesn’t mince words when he describes the previous experience of the Galatians being "slavery" to this whole matter of observing particular holidays, going through ritual, and attempting to define themselves on the basis of their own religiosity. Note that this isn’t as if it’s an accident on the part of the Galatians: Paul doesn’t use the words "slip" or "stumble," as if there were some unpredictable outside force at work here. Instead, he uses the phrase "turn back." This was an active cultural movement on the part of the Galatian community.

I often wonder if it is possible (and I think it is, especially in light of Ken's insight on this) for some of the "pagan" practices to be going on in the Churches? That the very community that took us in and showed us a better way and a healing way to once again "turn back" and sell out to some of the world's "proven methods" or "Best practices"? And these "best practcies", they fear the "messy" journey of seeking truth amongst the chaos of community.

A lot of people don't catch on to this because "Church" for them has been about "answers" , but those who realize that we are on a journey together and must "be a new story" just as the community at Pentecost, and at Galatia. I feel the pagan practices (and they feel very much like "show business" and "theological shows") because many of us feel there's way too little "being known" and "getting to know" in all of that. Celebrations are really celebrations when we observe the very personal discoveries we have made in this people God has placed us with. But how would we know this, if we make it so difficult to "get at"? 

8:10:12 PM    comment []

  Wednesday, June 04, 2003

A friend  on another system asked a question:

 if we are sure that this vision of the future that has blogs and online community as key facets is the right one, how do we make that future happen? What do we need to be doing to nudge society, even church societies, in that direction?

 My immediate reply in How We Can Begin (but realizing ,  especially after I wrote it,  that I started ranting,  but good ranting,  I think.  In any event,  more needs to be said.  There never seems to be enough of the questions such as the one in italics above.

I also, in my reply linked above,   broke into a lot of "Cluetrain-ish" kinds of "Come on, get a clue" type of confrontation (apologies to the Cluetrain authors,  who do it and write it much better than I).  Rest assured,  I don't purport to have given all the answers,  or maybe even one in that reply.  But it was a reply that I fully intend to keep boucing up against and bouncing back for more.  It will be with us a long time.  They're attempts to "nudge" (maybe leading toward "busting in the dooor")

1:41:22 PM    comment []

  Tuesday, May 27, 2003

In Small Pieces, Loosely joined, Weinberger describes "Corporate-speak" as "bizarre", and indeed it is.  I ask the question,  when does "religious or theological language" become more like "corporate speak"?  When does this organizational,  "lets please all people all the time" approach become a conversation killer? 

Companies talk in bizarre, stilted ways becuase they believe that such language expresses their perfection: omniscient, unflappable, precise, eleveated, and without accent or personality.  The rhetoric is as glossy and unbelievable as the photos in the marketing brochure.  Such talk kills conversation.  That's excatly why companies talk that way. (p.90)

I know of a church where the pastor constantly complained about emails being sent to all the members on an email list (which consisted of people who volunteered their email addresses in order to be INCLUDED in such mailings).  One member was keeping the list informed of various events of likely interest to some members of the congregation (this is a rather politically active congregation), and also on news about members,  and matters which involved asking for prayer.  The pastor instituted an "official email" statement on all emails sent to members , stating that this (and meaning "this and ONLY this") email is an OFFICIAL communication of churchname .  The pastor also confronted the "renegade", "unofficial" communicator of "unauthorized" emails on the matter,  complaining that the emails were unwanted.

Here we have a case where a Church "official" ;  a "pastor",  is opposing one of the earliest and still oft-used vehicles for carrying the "VOICE" which I believe is neccessary to a Church sounding human,  and not canned.  The "disclaimer" or "official" stamp on all Church email comes off very "authoritarian" and is putting itself in opposition to the mantra of the Web and online communications;  and places it squarely in the tradition of companies employing "corporate speak" as a way of minimizing public discourse.  This may not,  and is probably not,  even done as a conscious ploy to squelch anything,  but merely a transference of the mechanisms of "order" and "organization" tactics employed by the business world and the corporate culture.  But herein lies the problem.  Companies so "mimicked" are often not concerned with accentuating the voice of their constituents; their customers.  They are devoted to the "best practices" which a culture that has become cut off from what is human.  This is particularly troublsome when it works its way into Church management.  Indeed,  there is often a problem when "management" is the terminology used.  In Church communities,  conversation is not friendly to being "handled" or "managed".  Those very words smack of cover-up,  avoidance,  sweeping under the proverbial rug.  Sometimes even "open forums" are a "strategy" meant to "appease" or be an "opiate" rather than achieve doialogue or repentance and reconciliation.

There are many people who want to see open dialogue on public issues, political issues, a nd theological issues.  there are also people who want to find peronal, intimate dialogue.  I believe that both can be accomodated online (not exclusively,  but better "only there' than "nowhere";  and often online dialogue will lead to a breaking down of the face-to-face barriers to "breaching the subject",  because the online thread has given them permission to continue;  it has confirmed that this topic is not foreign or unwanted. 

8:20:09 AM    comment []

  Monday, May 26, 2003

Thinking back to the discussion at Vanderbilt led by Weinberger and AKMA,  and the debate that arose over the nature, role, status,  and value of "the expert",  I was just thinking about the way the Church leaders of Luther's day looked at him and his use of "printing" as a channel to circulate his views.  They immediately procalimed the printing press as "evil" because it allowed "just anybody" to be heard by a larger public than they as "official leaders" had gained over the centuries.  The Church had,  in conjuntion and cahoots with the crown,  a mponopoly on the "truth" and the "education" of the day,  and so wielded enormous power.  Read more in Some Peasant Monk      

12:20:49 PM    comment []

  Sunday, May 25, 2003

I found this link at the site,  and had to click and see what his problem was. 

from the review by this guy at the Washington Post,  who has a little diatribe of his own,  giving us a good example of the thing he is criticizing about The Cluetrain Manifesto and of Small Pieces Loosely joined,  by exhibiting how he simply doesn't get it about Sociology and the Web.  Read my response in Large Chunks, Thoroughly Missed

12:34:31 PM    comment []

This site for the Book has all the text (it looks like it does) and discussions branching out in all directions,  creating a lot of "loosely joined pieces"
12:13:19 PM    comment []

From Small Pieces. Loosely Joined (p.49):

Consider the three places – Adbusters, NetBaby, and RageBoy’s site – on the Myrtle site that we explored. What do they really have in common? One is a political site, one is a game spot for children, and one is an idiosyncratic collection of essays by a writer with too much personality for his own good. All that holds them together is that someone at Myrtle found them interesting. For that reason alone, the three sites have been placed near one another, creating a small virtual village of sorts. On the Web, nearness is created by interest. |  the Amazon link to Small Pieces

There is something here for Churches to take notice and "think upon" as a key strategy for making their Webs more like "being at Church" (in a good way).  Weinberger talks about surfing a reccommended link,  and finds links to other things while there.  The "serendipity" happens as a sort of "guided" tour of the interests and humor of the Web author,  taking him through some anti-advertising writings,  an amusing game site,  and RageBoy's well written rants.  The variety gives a flavor of that Web author in a very unique way.

For a Church to have "voice",  it seems that Weblogs naturally lead the writer to give such "tours" ;  it is a sort of map of ideas and moods.  It is an avenue of self-expression. Links often give a taste of a way the author feels at the moment,  or to something thatthey consider important and want us to also experience it.  What better example do we have of the Testimony.  Weblogs,  via their propensity to link,  effectively communicate a variety that is at once artistic (self -expressive) and informational.  It is a "shortcut to the psyche" that is often used when the writer wants to say something,  but perhaps just wants to note it and give the reader a way to experience the thing that has caused an idea or a reaction to meerge in the writer,  or as the "source" of a written comment or opinion.  It's a new way of providing a context to a communication of some importance to the author (else they would not have bothered even to link it or comment upon it).

Churches need to be investigating NOW what can be accomplished by providing weblog services,  to add to the communication mix.  If the Church is interested in "connecting people",  and they expend all this energy in "traditional small group development",  much of which misses the mark,  how is this avenue to "connecting people" getting missed? 

12:08:33 PM    comment []

  Sunday, May 18, 2003

  1. In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.

  2. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

  3. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

Second,  powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange are emerging.  The Weblog,  the wiki,  "Social Software",  tools that border on "emergent";  these are things in which the Church should be KEENLY interested.

12:38:07 PM    comment []

Cluetrain theses 8 thru 10
  • In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.

  • These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

  • As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

People seak to one another differently than they do to the "authorities" and the "vendors".  They relate to one another with a knowledge that there is no "dependence" on the other's part that we react and reply in a certain way.  People outside of the company selling a product are not beholden to that product or company,  but simply interested in finding the best value. 

There is the fear in some denominations that to let people speak in their own voice would be to open the door to chaos,  and to allow people to "badmouth" them.  Keeping those people out also filters out the trust,  for if the "dialogue" is too "sterile" and questions and challenges are not posed,  then that "dialogue" will expose itself as a fraud,  and the dilaogue will migrate elsewhere.  It seems to me that the denominations have a stake in helping the "ecumenical" networks to succeed.  Kind of like the "Macy's Santa Claus" in the movie "Miracle on 34th Street".   His concern was for finding what the children wanted,  undaunted by the wishes of his employers.  Turns out ,  they discovered the value of such direct-ness in the goodwill that gesture generated (toward them as well,  for playing host to such generoisty)

More in Theses 8 to 10

12:35:47 PM    comment []

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