Virtue in Blogging: Like or Dislike?

The more stink and infighting I hear chirping on the blogosphere, the more I realize the internet is like The Ring (a la Lord of the Rings). It seems few can wield it’s power all that well. Good intentions can switch to division and vitriol.

This is not a new sort of problem. 

Have you ever acted differently in your car than you do face-to-face with people? I have. I first time I drove with my husband-to-be, the man truly surprised me. Hallmark placidity turned to zeal and strident use of a motor vehicle.

It’s a problem of the flawed human heart. It’s spiritual, not behavioral.

Something about the material confines of transport too often unleashes something worse than normal in our thoughts and behavior. The internet is the very same way.

Instead of road rage, we see web rage. Comment sections on many news stories, for instance, are filled with toxic language and malicious conjecture.

But, this is not the end of the story!

As we pull back and examine ourselves, we feel the call, even the duty, to do better. What may sustain that initial motivation and produce better actions and results is community committed to a higher way.

This is where The Spiritual Guidance for Bloggers Project enters the fray. It’s a spot where we agree to virtue over high blog traffic. It’s not just a place online to thumbs up “like”, but rather a community where we encourage each other to be more personally reflective as we encounter and broach challenging issues.

click for FB page

I ask you to be a part of the solution, not the problem of blogosphere rancor. Join at the Facebook community, where resources, support, and hopefully face-to-face gatherings will build better kinds of online interactions.

I’ll just bring up one more thing, and I ask that you would help me with your prayers and suggestions. I sense the entreaty to assemble a guided prayer retreat day for soul care for the weary blogger (essentially, for Creators & Communicators)

Maybe toward the end of August. I’m not certain what it would look like, or even if anyone would care to come, but I envision a consecrated time of rest, prayer, fraternity, silence, unplugging, renewal, and vision-casting. Will you help me figure it out?

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Reflections on Reflecting [or what happened with the Jesuits, part I]

Aside from my utter confusion in my first Mass experience (stand up, sing this, say that, sit down, pass peace, say something else…all things a casual Evangelical finds alien), I was so very filled and fortified by my recent all- day retreat at the Jesuit Center‘s Guided Day of Prayer (which was Lenten themed).

It stood together in contrasts:

  • A quiet and calm place & my restless and weary soul
  • Freedom in the boundless love of God & the the intricate, foreign  formality and rule of Catholic liturgy and Holy Communion.
  • Muted joy of Lenten season & the bright love and goodness of my spiritual siblings
  • A banquet of food and refreshment & the observing of stark silence
  • A wide open day of prayer and reflection & the speed at which it passed

A scheduled day of silent prayer retreat is something you might not know you need until you get it. I sat in the beautiful chapel and wept off and on for over an hour, much to my own surprise.

I found it amazing how God can use a place and others to all at once pierce and convict my sullied heart of sin and obstinacy while also flooding it with his omnipresent love and overflowing grace. Let me tell you, it’s healing.

But let me be clear: It’s healing, not in an “I feel all better now” type of way. It was very much like the “undragoning” spoken of in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (I was Eustace Scrubb.) It smarts, but then too, it brings refreshment.

In the absence of noise and obligation you begin to hear, see, listen and perceive with keener clarity. In determined places and times of silence Reality becomes louder and more involved. Love becomes saturated in, through, and around you, the creaturely image-bearer of the Divine. You come again to the Center, the Real. Home.

Several analogies shared at guided portions brought me great insights. I’ll share those in soon in part II.

Many retreat centers offer space for a time of quiet and prayer for just a little money.  Here’s a directory to find one near you.

5 Reasons You can’t Fix People

creative commons photo. click for attribution.
  • (#1) Sorry to be blunt, but it’s just not your job. It never was.
  • (#2) You’re pretty crappy at fixing yourself.
    If you were good at fixing yourself, you would’t want to fix other people.
    In them (the “un-fixed”) you see yourself.
  • (#3) You don’t have that kind of power. It’s inappropriate to think you do.
  • (#4) People resent the condescension, so even if you try to be kind in the fixing it’s counterproductive.
  • (#5) People are supposed to have some unfixable spots.
    I write about “broken jars” here.

What are the alternatives?

  • Walk with people
  • Be a good influence
  • listen more
  • love more
  • learn more
What are some reasons or alternatives for you?

Thoughts on my 20 years of Internet Experiences

First internet browser: Mosaic

In a few months, I’ll be using the internet for 20 years. In college, I used something called GOPHER. I got email which consisted mainly of correspondence with other college students, and scientists sharing information. This was text based internet use. That’s right; this was pre-internet browser. (YIKES! I could have lost a whole bunch of you just now. You thought your browser was the internet, right?) 

A whole generation knows nothing of staring at a small monitor with green LED text for connecting with others on their computers.

I had the opportunity to frequent the campus of Carnegie-Mellon University, and enjoyed playing around in computer labs in the summers, and on my holiday breaks. This was especially, delightful when the first Apple computer came out in 1984. Hello, MacPaint! The school was (and likely is) 10-15 years ahead of the curve, technology-wise, compared to other institutions. It’s said that M.I.T. wishes it could be CMU when it grows up. Things like identity cards encoded with meal plan and student account information, campus ATM machines, direct deposit of paychecks, among other things were well in place in the early and mid 1980s.

WIKI tid bit: In the fall of 1990, there were just 313,000 computers on the Internet; by 1996, there were close to 10 million.

Then came a big breakthrough for the world Wide Web: Mosaic (Early 1990s). This was 15 years before more common browsers were created: Internet ExplorerMozilla Firefox, Safari (which I use) and later Google Chrome.

I took a field trip to NYC, and a design agency was helping the New York Times have a web presence, using Mosiac. Most companies scoffed at the internet at this time. It was merely a passing fancy, with no real practical purpose. Very few companies would put aside money to have a web presence. Netscape Navigator effectively broke the back of Mosiac in 1994, and like TV, the internet (which was not created by Al Gore, more here,) proved itself to be an invaluable innovation, not just a mere tech trend. The internet starting getting attention, and acceptance.

By 1995, I had my own email address on a home computer, and penned a local article predicting that in 10 years, everyone would be online, in the same way everyone had a home telephone at the time. Plenty of people thought that was absurd. I actually over shot that one. It was 7-10 years, probably.

Then, mobile phones were just gaining ground in the lives of ordinary people. Until that time, had been mostly a beeper market (pagers,), and those users were mostly doctors, firefighters, workaholics, and people who wanted to seem important or rich. They still make pagers, believe it or not. I’m not sure why. Security issues?

Now many of us have smart phones. Direct access to unfathomable amounts of information and connectivity from around the world. Governments, and long-standing dictatorships have been toppled as a result of shared news and information that the internet offers. And participation in internet social media is the rule, not the exception. (Case in point: Social Media just surpassed pornography as the most utilized form of internet use. Now, if that doesn’t say something, nothing does!)

We’ve emerged from the internet stone age (probably), and I cannot even imagine what is to come. You know what else? The predictions that we would be paperless, and book-less by now, were wrong. But, they were wrong about television and home movies/cable/etc. They said movie theaters would be obsolete, and shut down; and that couldn’t be further from the truth. We make room for useful technology, don’t we?

SO! What year did you get email, or start using the internet?

HEY! Remember the America Online (aol) sent out computer disks that would offer 15 free minutes if you signed up with them? I probably had 150 of them sent to me, and I never went for their offer. They would up the minutes in their promotion until it came to several hours worth.

Ahhh, the olden days. Apple won’t even be making computers with CD/DVD drives anymore. How about them apples? Even if you’re 16, you can feel old, when technology adapts so speedily.