You Need To Know About This, 12/23/12

Kneel before Zod

We serve an ancient deity, say Gary Willis. His true name is “Moloch,” but we call him “Gun.”

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Our Moloch

I pity the fool

Seth Godin is a fool. And he’s a genius. He pushes marketers to be better by being more authentic. Crazy thought, huh? He reminds me of a bit of St. Francis. A “holy fool” indeed.

Ridiculous isn’t safe. If you do something ridiculous and you fail, people get to say, “you idiot, of course you failed, what you were doing was ridiculous.” Which is precisely why it’s so rare. Not because we are unable to imagine being ridiculous, but because we’re afraid to be.

Ridiculous is the new remarkable

You better watch out

I’m not ashamed of it: I hate the Elf on the Shelf. I know some of you will hate me for it, but… Lee Hull Moses sums up the pertinent questions nicely.

And what will parents do come January, when the elf flies home for the rest of the year? Who will keep the children in line?

The tattle-tale elf leaves little room for redemption. Mischievous activity is reported to Santa, and that’s the end of it. There’s no role for repentance, making amends or healing relationships, and it’s not at all clear how many naughty acts gets you demoted from presents or how many nice one make up for this.

No elf on our shelf

One is the loneliest number

I’m calling it now: The Lone Bellow‘s album (due out on January 22) is an early favorite for my 2013 Album of the Year. Enjoy “Two Sides of Lonely”:

You Need To Know About This, 12/16/12

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

Taking a cue from classicist Phuc Tran, Theresa Cho incisively names the ways our grammar shapes our experience of ministry in the church:

So what does this have to do with church? My experience with churches is that we swim between the indicative and the subjunctive – mostly not in helpful ways. We use the subjunctive when viewing our reality when really we need to embrace the indicative. We get stuck in the indicative of membership, finances, and energy when dreaming of possibilities of the future when we should be swimming in the subjunctive.

The Subjunctive & Indicative of Church Ministry

“Wisdom of crowds” or lemmings?

After writing Open Source Church, I have tried to keep my eyes peeled for keen and nuanced critiques of the crowdsourcing theory. Steven Poole offers one of the best:

It is surprising how often Wikipedia is cited by such cyber-pedlars as a paradigm of communal “knowledge creation”, given that Wikipedia explicitly bans the creation of any new knowledge. Its highest law is “no original research”, barring any mention of either “facts” or “ideas” that are not already published elsewhere. Observance of this edict has the effect that Wikipedia is entirely dependent on its cited sources, including newspaper and journal articles, for the “knowledge” it contains. This does not mean that Wikipedia is useless – far from it – but it is not an example of what it is so often claimed to be.

Invasion of the cyber hustlers

No Talent Hack

Mark Hobson, photographer and philosopher of Art, addresses “the myth about talent.” It should not surprise you that I would like to see Hobson’s distinction between “skill” and “talent” applied wholesale to our ordination processes.

IMO, those who are dismissive of the idea of talent as a special natural ability / god-given gift / preternatural ability (pick one descriptor or feel free to make up your own), or who, at the very least, approach the notion in a diminishing manner, are basing their belief on their confusion with the idea of acquiring a skill with that of having a talent.

To be certain, there are many in the picture making world who are very skilled at the craft of making pictures. They regularly make pictures which are widely admired and often imitated. Many enjoy great success in both the serious amateur and the professional picture making worlds. And, there is no denying most have worked hard and long to get there.

However, what they and their pictures lack is that special je ne sais quoi / “genius” which separates their work from that of picture makers with talent. In many cases, the separation between the work of the skilled and that of the talented is more like a crack in the pavement rather than the distance between opposing walls of the Grand Canyon. Nevertheless, there is a difference and it is a meaningful one.

civilized ku # 2410-13 ~ the myth about talent