My mind has changed about the value of Twitter over this past year. I have to say that Twitter has been a blessing to my learning in very significant ways. Granted, much depends who you follow in determining whether what you are learning may be worthwhile. But I have found much value in connecting with authors and organizations, friends, leading thinkers of the day, as well as new people who I learn of through their connections and retweets. Think of it this way – those of you still reading this post and who have read the Nurturing Faith blog in the past may find things that are of use in this blog – that is why you read it. In a sense you are following my mind and what I am thinking about, what I am discovering, what I am pondering, and understanding what I believe. Twitter allows us to follow the stream of consciousness of others that we want to connect with and learn from on a daily basis. In that sense, it is not at all unlike those disciples who followed Jesus and learned from him daily – we choose who we want to follow and be influenced by.
With Twitter I am able to learn of new things as they come out – new articles, books, ideas that are being formed, events happening in the world, discussions that are going on, ideas that are gaining steam. I don’t have to wait until a book is published by one of my favorite authors or until a blog post appears. It is very egalitarian in that I can connect with anyone who shares a particular interest, with people that in the past I might have been hesitant or intimidated to do so in person. Everyone is learning together. There is also the instant communication aspect – on a recent retweet this thought was expressed by a Twitter user from Egypt as they reflected on the power and use of social media in the uprising: “isteconnects: power of SM: “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world” – Cairo activist #edchat”. Twitter was used as not only an instant way for the participants to connect, but to share out to the world, through individuals such as Andy Carvin of NPR (see below), the raw content and updates of what was happening on a moment to moment basis. It increased my compassion level and prayers for those in this situation.
One of the things that I find to be true about Twitter is that is can be more authentic than other forms of communication like books or articles. By reading someone’s tweets, you can see their heart come through in ways that are not quite as clear in more formal venues such as books or articles. You can understand a bit more of what makes them tick, what they value, what excites or upsets them. Some of this authenticity can get edited out of more formal publishing or the author is more reserved due to the perceived permanence of the printed word. Yes, tweeters should be aware that tweets also have a permanence and can be read later by an interested party. Twitter can also certainly be a channel for self-promotion, but if this is overdone, readers can quickly tire of it and a person can lose respect and credibility.
Twitter definitely is not meant to be a vehicle to be used instead of face to face interactions – while it helps to connect across distances and allows us to form/maintain relationships, we can’t experience the fullness of the actual “presence” of others. Like other technology tools, it has its place and must be used wisely. In the bigger picture, it has been an amazing spur to my learning and curiosity. When I am learning and reflecting back to the source of truth, I believe I am experiencing just a bit more of who God has created me to be as his imagebearer and sensemaker in his world.
Following NPR’s Andy Carvin on Twitter the past month has meant an almost continuous stream of “retweets” of those in the action in Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, and other hotspots. The tweets have been raw, unedited, emotionally wrenching, and urgent. They impacted my thinking and my prayer life. Yet was that an appropriate response? Should I somehow do more?
I recently read an article that commented on the fact that donations for the crisis in Japan were running behind those of the earlier crisis in Haiti and with Katrina. The experts suggested that we perceived a greater need in Haiti based on a lesser self-sufficiency. They also mentioned that the needs were more clearly articulated in the Haiti and Katrina crises. Is it then perceived neediness, need articulation, or does the location of the crisis make a difference?
In our digitally connected world, on what basis do we decide which crisis to pay attention to and use for teaching purposes? Has our technology outstripped our ability to respond empathetically? How do we avoid a generalized dulling of our ability to feel our neighbor’s pain? Who is our neighbor and how can I possibly respond to all of my neighbors? Which neighbors do I pay attention to? These are questions that I believe are important to discuss with our colleagues and fellow staff members.
(Thanks to Mark Eckel for giving permission to share this post of March 25, 2011 from his blog, Warp and Woof.)
“I’m not a math person.” For years this had been my response to any question involving numbers, equations, or solutions. But I had wrongly given up responsibility for a crucial characteristic of God’s creation. I began to realize my answer was a wrong approach to math or, for that matter, anything else in life.
In the summer of 2003 I was asked to do a Christian school in-service on biblical integration including three hours on elementary math. I asked for and received the table of contents along with sample lessons from each textbook. As I pondered God’s natural revelation of arithmetic The Spirit began to open my eyes to at least twelve major concepts directly dependent upon Scriptural truth.
I used to believe that math was the most difficult subject for biblical integration. Indeed, it seems immediately plain that math is the essential core of God’s world. As I understand it now, math could well be described as “God’s language.” For instance, John D. Barrow’s book The Constants of Nature: From Alpha to Omega–the Numbers That Encode the Deepest Secrets of the Universe seems to mirror Scriptural injunctions concerning “the works of God’s hands” that endure “from age to age.” The stability of creation is consistently used as the measuring rod for God’s interaction with people. Why? The Creator’s truthful rule over this world and this life marks his dependability for the next world and afterlife (see examples in Psalms 35, 71, 73, 80, 88, 92, 95, 103, 118, 120, 146, and 148). Numerical order is essential for life and central to “the whole truth” of God’s creation.
Here is a sample of biblically integrative lesson plan goals from the first of twelve mathematical concepts entitled “systems and roles.” Each aim is premised upon observations from Genesis one and two. [I have created 12 lesson plans which include goals, objectives, anticipatory sets, readings, discussion, methods, and questions.]
- To prove God’s world is interrelated—each part working within the whole.
- To express how God brought various systems together in complementary equilibrium.
- To state that creation’s organization is based on the plans and decrees of God.
- To explain how something is “unique”—each thing assigned its place, given a role by God.
- To appreciate math as a system by which God runs His world.
After describing God’s numerical ordering of His creation Job cries, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works!” (26:14). Never again will I say, “I’m not a math person.” Since The Personal Eternal Creator binds His world with numbers, I am bound to discover more about math. Discovering more of God’s world helps us to know more of our God.