I’ve been reading TallSkinnyKiwi since Gavin pointed it out……and things like this (along with the great post in which it is set) are among the insightful pieces I often find there, particularly on the possibilities for Church and Web, as this item illustrates:
Blogs can allow different groups who never get together physically to converse and discover new things about this massive building we inhabit but blogrolls are often homogenous – an elite club of like-minded people. I hope my blog-rolls in the future will include more people from the Bride of Christ who disagree with my distinctive view of things but love me anyway
I too have had my sense of ecumenicity expanded and deepened via the Web; the above mentioned “new things” and “including more people who disagree with my distinctive view”; and also increasing the chances and opportunities to connect to the church that laments the neglect of the peaceable nature of the Kingdom. In Nashville churches, the laments are rarely heard. The Web offers a glimpse in to the conversations that are indeed happening in the church worldwide, and keep some of us hoping for an embodied representation of the community of the redeemed that seek first the Kingdom.
This “massive” expanse of the Kingdom of God as represented and discovered via Web is best utilized as “Extension”. The idea here is that the embodied community is central. The “Life Together” and the celebration/observance/discipline of worship and discipleship. All of this is crucial; it is the lifeblood of our existence as people of God. The ways we have devised to communicate are expanding. People now have and take advantage of the option to “remain connected” in increasing ways , ala cellphones, text messaging, etc., even though they allow us to “remove ourselves” from our immediate surroundings (ie. People in crowds carrying on their conversations with their own crowd, while in the midst of another crowd) and therefore further isolate us, these same communications also allow us to remain in touch with the conversations, news, and resources of the embodied community.
Back in the fall of 2002, I bought and read Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs, which was and is (via their ongoing blog at smartmobs.com) a great sociological study of the impact of mobile technologies. Rheingold wrote a seminal work for online community in 1992 (The Virtual Community), and Smart Mobs is what I consider to be an “Update” of the concept of virtual community into the 21st century “Mobile Connected” world where we have the ubiquitous cellphone, and the “starting to become ubiquitous” PDA/SmartPhone/one-device aggregation of mobile connectedness.
When I think of the times when I have been most engaged and hungry for community and conversation, and the desire to “linger” and “hang out” after a particularly engaging time of intense community, and then in the ensuing days ,longing for the next opportunity when we get another opportunity to “continue” or to “discern something new”, I ma drawn to the technological possibilities for hosting such “lingering” and “time between the times” by making some “transmittable nuggets” available to an online community, via RSS, Blogs, and Web portals that aggregate resources for the theological community. There is something to the idea of “building out” the Web with applications that EXTEND the transmittable pieces of the communications that happen among God’s people.