Monday, November 12, 2007

The church is flat

The church is flat:
"The world has changed. The old rules are out.

It was bad enough when the World Wide Web made it possible for the voices of peoples long silenced to broadcast their ideas – crazy and eccentric as many of them are – without having to raise thousands of dollars to self-publish or to convince an editor-publisher to invest the capital to do so. Standards of grammar and communication ethics went out the window.

Now it’s worse. Web 2.0, the second generation of Web development, has turned every computer into a publishing house, an editorial department, a photography studio, and a movement rabble-rouser.

The world really is flat, as Thomas Friedman proclaimed in his book by that title."
It's not that bad, Mr. Haberer -- There will always be a place for good editors, and you are among the best.

We have a diversity of voices in our denomination, but it hasn't been that long since most voices were effectively silenced; not through a concerted effort to stifle such voices, but simply because there was no way to get the word out effectively. Word trickled out slowly from General Assembly, and when the mainstream press reported it, it was often misleading. It was not unusual to hear what actually went on at a given GA weeks after the fact.

In the early 1990's email lists and web sites began to provide information as it happened. Still, though, the average person could only read email or navigate to a web site for information provided by others.

The 21st century has seen an explosion of technology that has empowered just about anyone with a laptop and an internet connection to publish views and reactions to what is going on in their local churches, and all the way up the hierarchy to Louisville.

Not all voices are equally useful. I read blogs and web sites on the right and the left of the PC(USA)that leave me wondering just what people are thinking of, when they use ridicule and hate speech against their fellow Christians. Thankfully there are only a very small number of such sites.

Most of the "ordinary" people provide useful perspectives and I value them. Check the sidebar for links to blogs that I try to read on a regular basis, both Presbyterian and other Christian offerings.

One thing that Jack Haberer did not touch on in his article today is the amazing access that people all over the country are able to get during the General Assembly. With streaming video and Les (the business tracking software) people all over the world can see what happens in real time. The PC(USA) deserves a great deal of praise for its providing the means for people in their communities to see how bills and overtures become church policy. It may be a little like watching sausage being made, but shining a light on the process really helps.

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