Off the Beaten Path Spiritual Practices

04.19.16 | Permalink | Comment?

I’m thinking of writing a series of posts on some off the beaten path practices I have. I’ve decided to give myself credit for them being “spiritual,” whether they are or not. So there.

What do I have in mind? Here’s a starter list:

  • Speaking Your Mind Behind Closed Doors
  • Assuming Best Intentions
  • Reading Something Challenging
  • Not Thinking in a Straight Line
  • Blazing a Trail Between the Center and the Margins

What’s so off the beaten path about these? Let’s just say they aren’t traditional Christian practices, like the Ignatian Exercises, lectio divina, or even speaking in tongues. But still, I’m giving myself credit for them.

Why should these count? Foucault had a little thing going just before he died on “technologies of the self.”  Self-tech, or “selfcraft” as I prefer, is something you do (more or less) regularly to change who you are.

Engaging in selfcraft works. The trick is picking selfcraft that helps you become who you need to become at this point in your life. Don’t pick up some selfcraft just because someone thinks you’re supposed to.  If it’s not shaping you in the way you need to be shaped, why are you doing it?

I’m not going to say that you should pick up the practices I find helpful. You can, if you like. But the spiritual practices I used when I was younger don’t work for me anymore. I’m giving myself credit for what works now. Even if there aren’t books about them on seminary library bookshelves.

More later. What off the beaten path spiritual practices are you going to give yourself credit for?

Safest Place to Be

10.24.10 | Permalink | 2 Comments

One of my part-time jobs in high school was working for a Christian book and office supply store (yes, it was both), so this post about the unreal safety of Christian books brought a smile to my face. Though he doesn’t mention the End Times shelf at the Christian bookstore, which might be the most dangerous place on earth this side of the pages of World War Z.

I still have fond memories of talking faith, books and Bible with the bookstore staff.  I’m still grateful for the advice the old, burned out former Baptist preacher who ran the Bible department gave me.  He said, “Son, if you’re gonna go into the ministry, you need to find yourself a hobby like woodworking, something where you finish things.  Because in the ministry, you never finish anything.”

And I’ve almost finished leveling up my now level 46 dark/cold heroic corruptor in City of Heroes to level 50.  I don’t think that’s quite what he had in mind, but it doesn’t have to be woodworking to count, right?

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Grace, Karma, and Bono

10.24.10 | Permalink | 6 Comments

This post has been moved to Times & Seasons. I’ll be removing it entirely soon.


Evil and Nazis

09.23.10 | Permalink | 6 Comments

September’s UU Blog Salon topic is the nature of evil.  In full awareness that I’m in danger of violating Godwin’s Law, here’s my response:

After December 1941 (if not before) it was a good thing to kill Nazis. If it was December 1941 again, it would be good to kill Nazis again. Picketing and petitions would not have stopped the Holocaust at that point (if they ever would have). Any take on evil that doesn’t deal with the Holocaust, and real ways to end it, is bunk.

Killing Nazi zombies, however, is another matter entirely.

Facebook Won’t “Like” Your Church

09.23.10 | Permalink | 5 Comments

I’ve written about Facebook before, but this time I have a bit of a cautionary tale.

We consolidated our congregation’s Facebook Page and Group into a new Page not too long ago. A volunteer stepped up to make it happen and reinvited everyone to come over to the new Page, and we now have more fans on our new Page than we did for the old. Photos were moved over, and we added our blog feed so that posts would automatically show up on our Facebook Page, where they can be “liked” and commented on.

Then the feed stopped working. Fine. I deleted the feed and readded it, and the new posts appeared.

Came back a week later. New posts not showing up again. Fine. Deleted and readded again.

Came back another week later. New posts not showing up yet again. Fine. Deleted the feed, but now it won’t let me add it back in, giving me a nondescript error message. No more time to work on it, so I put it off until the next week.

The next week I tried again. No dice. Same nondescript error message. I google it and find that others are having the same problem, with no solution from Facebook. Wait, there’s one search result pointing to a WordPress plugin that will serve as a workaround. I go to the plugin’s page to see that the plugin is broken in the current version of WordPress. Oh well.

I go back the next day to try again. Maybe it usually works, and I’m just winning the downtime lottery. Still doesn’t work. I search the Facebook help forum to find others having the same problem and finding no solution. I fill out the help ticket.

The help ticket sends me a robo-response asking for a screenshot. A screenshot of what? Of a feed not importing to my page? How am I supposed to take a screenshot of nothing happening? I ignore the message. Maybe they’ll actually read my support ticket and get back to me.

Next day, no response. So I fill out the ticket again. This time I respond to the robo-response, explaining that the feed isn’t importing and listing the six different iterations of the feed’s address that I’ve tried to import.

Which brings us to today. No response still. At least now when I try to add the feed, it give me a preview of the items it’s trying to add. But then it gives me a new nondescript error message when I confirm I want to add the feed. At least this time the error message apologizes for the error. I press the “Go back” link in the error message to try again. Rinse. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Now our Page won’t even load. I check other websites to make sure it’s not the connection. Nope, it’s Facebook. And still no feed re-added.

I tell my tale of techno-woe to point out that Facebook does not work for us—Facebook works for advertisers. It provides a “Religious Organization” category for its Pages so it can sell ads to churchfolk, not because it likes our congregations.

There are some good things to be done with a congregational Facebook Page. But we need to remember that Facebook is a for-profit corporation that makes money off our personal information. Let’s keep one eye on Facebook at all times and make sure we don’t move functions of our congregations’ lives over to Facebook that we can’t also run off Facebook, or do without. Facebook isn’t our friend, and we shouldn’t depend on it.

Quick Takes

09.21.10 | Permalink | Comment?

Thinking of taking this online course on media ethics called “Program or Be Programmed” with Douglas Rushkoff.  Looks like some good reading and good discussion.  Neato graphic summarizing his approach here.

Thank god for the honesty of “Broken Buddha.”  No need for “Love. Every. Minute.” pietism, no matter what god-talk you dress it up in.  It’s just spiritual violence with a smile.

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