A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

Can the future be color blind? June 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 5:06 pm

In Mary Hess’s book Engaging Technology in Theological Education, I was struck in chapter six, “Embodied Pedagogies,” about the issue of multicultural education versus anti-racist education. As a trained educator with more than one “multi-cultural education” class under my belt, this topic resonated with me. In the early 1990’s when I was in my undergrad, multi-cultural education looked like telling me how the US is now a salad bowl with a little bit of everything thrown in a tossed together and we had the task of figuring out how to teach students (young children in my case) of different races and cultures.(I should insert here that I went to the Univ. of NE-Lincoln for my b.s. in ed.)  Assignments ranged from reading a book about a certain culture to preparing a lesson and going to a school that had a “high ethnic population.” We taught the lesson and then had to reflect on what role race and culture may have played in the teaching/learning environment. This was in contrast to my special education (for children with a myriad of cognitive and physical disabilities) classes that taught me. In SP ED classes the curriculum focused on the individuality, issue of “least restrictive environment,” and the social issues of these children and their families. It also dealt with the issues of these children on institutional levels. It seemed to me that this was appropriate for the “multi-cultural” classes as well, and all that the “multi-cultural” classes were perpetuating were the prejudices. This was not the explicit point, but certainly was the “null” curriculum!

The SP ED classes were closer to the “anti-racism” education in Hess’s book. I think that this “anti-racism” principle is key. There is an “organizing principle of the social and political structure…that deny human rights” (101). I wonder if technology can be a part of the solution for dissolving these structures? As we are more connected and can communicate across neighborhoods, cities, states, countries and cultures, we can use this connectivity to name the structures that deny human rights and dignity on many levels.

I was watching Tavis Smiley yesterday on PBS, and he was interviewing Tim Wise the author of a book call Color Blind. He was speaking on how the sub-prime mortgage melt-down and the following economic crisis is really because of racism. He contends that 15 years ago banks gave out sub-prime loans in primarily African American and Latino neighborhoods knowing that the risk was high for these populations. But the banks saw it as a way to profit from these populations who historically were not home owners. When the mortgages reset, the banks refused to negotiate and help out these now deeply in trouble homeowners. This implicit racism trickled down into the larger housing market and economy. This is an interesting theory (not one that I completely buy into) but I what I do buy into is that racism is alive and well in major institutions as well as individual communities.

Being embodied means that we bring all of us to every activity, even cyberspace. How we engage and think about other embodied children of God in this space does matter. We cannot simply homogenize everyone but acknowledge our uniqueness and that we are all imago Dei. Race is not something to be erased but “is not only visible but necessary for human liberation” ( pg. 102, Hess quoting L. Nakamura). Amen

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Never hire a professional again? June 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 11:16 pm

So here I sit on a Saturday afternoon in Parker, CO reading about Martin Luther (yes for class, but I actually really like the book! Call me a nerd, go ahead I deserve it!), when I hear from the upstairs computer, “Hi my name is Gary and my job today is to fix this pipe.” You see, we have a big leak in our underground sprinkler system; apparently a pipe burst. My husband, Mike, who is cheap but not necessarily handy, has decided to fix this himself. He was successful while I was in MN with a smaller sprinkler system job and is feeling confident. Now, he knows nothing about underground sprinklers except that they mean that we don’t have to drag out hoses and you can have them on a timer to save money (see above description of Mike). But he is VERY technologically savvy (working in the field) and confidently tells me that he can do this because he is sure that someone has put a “how-to” of pipe replacement on YouTube. Sure enough after about only five minutes of searching, he finds the exact video of what he needs to do and is off the hardware store with his list of supplies some stranger told him to buy.

This is part of the phenomena that Michael Wesch addresses in his YouTube sensation Web 2.0. While some see YouTube as a wasteland, it probably saved us $100 today. Some guy knew that he could teach others to do simple home repairs and save them money and time. He did this not for money or fame but simply because he could and probably feels good about it. Maybe not completely altruistic, but there is an element there, don’t you think? He loved his unknown neighbor enough to do this.

This type of user generated content was unheard of ten years ago. To get help with this we would have either 1) live near one of our parents (which we do not) or 2) have a neighbor who knew about this stuff with the time to help. Wesch addresses the connectivity of YouTube and how it is altering how we interact in cyberspace as well as with each other. So my husband learns to do this on YouTube, but tomorrow could help a next door neighbor with this same task. That unknown lawn guy just connected two people in Parker, CO! Cool huh?

 

The risk of failure June 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 7:58 pm

This is a topic that has intrigued me as a type A, first born, competitive type of personality.  What does it look like to fail and is this actually a necessary thing (shudder) from time to time. In my husband’s industry, IT, the motto is “if you are going to fail, fail fast and move on.” This makes a lot of sense to me as you don’t want to be pounding your head into a brick wall and I think we have all had that experience. Clay Shirky addresses this theory of failure in Here Comes Everybody. Shirky affirms that failure can lead to greater success. He uses the technological world and the concept of open source software as an example of this.

We have held to the theory in the 20th and 21st centuries that institutions exist to lower transaction costs which is good for the market. But the draw back, as Shirky points out, is that  there is not room for failure. In the open source software development example, the transaction costs are still low, as many people contribute for free, but the risk of failure is now acceptable as failure doesn’t cost a corporation or an individual anything. The idea is that many people contribute to the development of the software so it gets honed with each addition or subtraction from contributors. When failure happens, someone will more than likely come along quickly to fix it.

When I think about the risk of “failure” in ministry settings, I come back to the word “risk.” Are we even willing to risk a new Sunday School concept or stewardship plan because if we fail then what? How often do lay people not come forward to serve with their expertise and passion because of the threat of failure? How can we as a church create an environment that embraces risk failure or success? Is it possible to take the open source software model and apply it to ministry? I would like to think yes, as we are all called to contribute with our specialized gifts to add to the whole of the gospel message.

 

To Facebook or not to Facebook…that is the question? June 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 1:04 am

So, my 13 year old daughter took off on the church youth mission trip with Center for Student Missions this morning, less that nine hours after I got home from seminary. Tonight, I got a phone call from another parent not on the trip to say that they arrived safely.  Then I was told to call another person and keep the phone tree going.  HMMM, I thought-phone tree in 2010? I asked this parent, who is very involved in the youth program, why doesn’t the youth director send out an email or simply update the  church youth’s Facebook page so that parents can check it out anytime? The reply that I received was interesting…it takes too much time! Really? Two minute status update versus a 20 person calling tree? I understand that internet access can be a problem, but in this day and age someone somewhere will have internet.

How neat would it be for the youth director to Twitter or tweet updates or update Facebook so that parents and others can see the mission work happening in real time? OR…radical thought…allowing the youth to have time to update their statuses with mission work.

Caveat warning!! One would have to have strict rules about posting but most youth would understand this I think. What would be gained by allowing the world to see all of the mission done by the churches young people this summer all over the world?? Would the opinion of teenagers as a whole be altered and enhanced? Would our youth feel connected with their congregation and global church and not leave in droves?

These are all interesting questions that I think we need to consider before we write off social networking for telling your friends what you are having for dinner. Youth already have a sense of the power of social networking but need to be guided with how to navigate this power safely and with a sense of purpose. Connecting with our youth in these cyber spaces can, in my opinion, create a tight and supportive community in their daily lives.

 

What shall I learn about God in the computer? June 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 1:42 am

Not that God is in the computer, although I believe that God can be experienced in a myriad of ways. Specifically, I am thinking about how can blogging, social networking, information sites (like Google, youtube, etc.) give me insight to what God is doing in the world? We know that many (ok almost all) of our 40 and under crowd in our congregations engage media several times a day and our youth don’t know life without it! But I want to explore how I can engage media in a way that can communicate the love and grace of God to those that I have the honor to serve either in a parish or here on-line in my blog! How has media changed ministry for me?  How will I keep up and use it in a meaningful way? How can my definition of community expand and blossom through media? These are all topics I want to explore with you all over the next few weeks. One of my main concerns was time: How will I fit one more thing into ministry? I found this seven minute video by Clay Shirky about time usage  and  social networking on youtube I hope that you enjoy it!

 

Contrary to popular belief-I am a computer expert! June 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 4:08 pm

So I just had the surreal experience of being considered “tech savvy” in my technology and education class at Luther Seminary about 20 minutes ago. My husband is on the floor laughing as he reads this as I often need help with my e-mail. But as I already had a blog set up, a RSS feed going on Google dashboard and knew of some blogging sites, I was dubbed “savvy.” In reality, I am able to point and click and follow the directions put up by “real” tech people on the site. These are people who look at the set up of a site and think, “If an idiot comes here can they figure it out?” The answer is apparently “yes”! But I am just going to enjoy the moment…..