Heresy Hunters: I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

Looking back at this post from a few years back made me think of an upcoming event that I’m privileged to be part of: Co-Creation 2012, an urban gathering in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina this April 12-15. Why did this remind me of that? Because the old gang from World Future Society 2008 will be getting back together – Brian McLaren, Diana Butler-Bass, and myself, joined by Paul Smith. Now I should emphasize that I’ll be there more in a support role, while this terrific trio will be bringing wisdom from their three unique perspectives – that of  change management narration (Brian McLaren – see this), action research (Diana Butler-Bass – see this), and Integral developmental theory (Paul Smith – see this). They’re going to share, in plain language, where the Church and larger global faith communities are at, right now, and where we’re going. Most importantly, they’ll be sharing the inner and outer journey tools we can use to follow Jesus into a preferred future – co-creating with God. There will also be music, dance, workshops, and great food within walking distance. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to register right now.

Of course, not everyone likes change, or deep wisdom that defies convention, as we’ve been exploring on the blog this week. What follows is a reflection on this from 2008:

You know you’re doing something worthwhile when all the right people are denouncing you.

A couple of weeks ago Herescope denounced Jay Gary, Diana Butler-Bass, Brian McLaren and myself, who will be hanging out at the World Future Society‘s annual conference in D.C. We’ll be talking about “The Future of the Religious Right” and of global Christian faith in general, but the Heroscope team sees our work as promoting “new theologies and practices,” and “disparaging…of biblical prophecy.” Somehow, they suspect that all this winds up “creating an evolutionary convergence” where we all sing Kumbaya and venerate Gaia and Easter bunnies. As if that’s a bad thing! ;)

Moving along: I’ve already told you the kind of flack The Shack has been getting recently with the heresy-hunter websites. Well, as Steve Knight reports at Emergent Village, now our ‘ol pal Mark Driscoll is in on the action too (you can watch his eight-minute YouTube rant on the E.V. link). Apparently he’s mighty uncomfortable with the sacred feminine, relational depictions of God, and the idea of the Trinity (and thus, human relatedness) as mutually submissive rather than chain-of-command hierarchical. Sigh. Co-publisher Wayne Jacobsen blogs his response to the question “Is The Shack Heresy?”

Of course Frank Viola has had his share of critique concerning Pagan Christianity–not all from shrill heresy hunters, but certainly enough of it. Tim Dale over at Karis Productions produced this pretty funny spoof response:

I have two observations about all the shelling and attack from this past month: Most of the people above are friends of mine, and for the most part, we can all laugh this off (in the cases of Frank and Team Shack, they can laugh all the way to the bank, as these books have really struck a chord with most readers and have become best-sellers)–even if we don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes. Others, though, are not so fortunate–heresy-hunters can cost people their livelihoods.

I don’t have the privilege of knowing Peter Enns, but his story has been all over the blogosphere recently. As Christianity Today reports, Enns has been suspended from his teaching post at Westminster Theological Seminary for writing his 2005 book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, which takes a hard look at the messy, complex, and human aspects of Scripture from an evangelically-informed text criticism point of view. The Board of Trustees said:

“That for the good of the Seminary (Faculty Manual II.4.C.4) Professor Peter Enns be suspended at the close of this school year, that is May 23, 2008 (Constitution Article III, Section 15), and that the Institutional Personnel Committee (IPC) recommend the appropriate process for the Board to consider whether Professor Enns should be terminated from his employment at the Seminary. Further that the IPC present their recommendations to the Board at its meeting in May 2008.”

I understand that confessionally Christian schools are not as enamored with “freedom of thought at any cost” like their liberal arts counterparts; I get that evangelical higher learning institutions are trying to maintain a precarious balance between intellectual integrity and nurturing creedal faith commitments. All the same, Enns is not Bishop Spong or something–he’s asking questions about Holy Writ that the rest of the Church (and world at large) have been asking since the 19th century. Like it or not, those who read and love the Bible are going to begin pondering its more troubling aspects with greater honesty and ideological flexibility.

Heresy-hunting is far from the world’s worst problem. (Next time, I’m going to blog about sex trafficking. Please try to refrain from throwing yourself off a building.) Nonetheless, it is a downer. As I mused last year, sometimes I wonder why I even bother participating in this kind of ‘dialogue’–it all seems so insular. Sometimes I just want to throw my blog into the ocean (so to speak) and becoming a wandering hermit…with my wife and child, of course. But for now, I suppose I’ll leave everyone with an easily-rebuttable maxim: If you don’t have something kind to blog, don’t blog anything at all.

Related:

Mike Todd’s The Shack Film casting call

John MacArthur launches Nothing Must Change tour

Portions of this post were originally published on April 8, 2008

Also in this series:
Resisting the Logic of Heresy-Hunting: A Cautionary Tale
Gutless-Grace Girlieman Inspires Po-Motivators…Story At 11
I’ve Been ‘Sliced! (or, when heresy-hunters attack)

I’ve Been ‘Sliced! (or, when heresy-hunters attack)

Heresy-hunting is everywhere these days – even in presidential politics. Think what you want of the various candidates (I’ll not go into any stump speeches here), but when a presidential candidate criticizes the current president, not over disagreements in policy, but for “phony theology” as Santorum did Obama, well, you have presidential-level heresy-hunting. Here’s the scoop on that:

 

Targeting people with different spiritual and religious perspectives with appellations like “phony” and “heretic” has, of course, been going for a long time – arguably since the very existence of religion, but in contemporary times at least since the publication of John MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos in 1993. A few years ago, it was finally my turn…

Glory be, my day of infamy has arrived–the biggest heresy-hunting ‘blog this side of Ken Silva has targeted little ‘ol me for witchery! Ingrid Schlueter of Slice O’ Laodecia sez (in a piece titled Christian Witchcraft is Here) that my main website, zoecarnate.com, advocates “cool new “Christianity”, including an ad for an emerging conference, and links to all the emerging sites of Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, and a host of others listed under the category, “Dispatches from the Great Emergence”.

Guilty! Of everything except being cool. (My wife will tell you that I’m a big nerd, and I still dress funny if she doesn’t have any input.)

Apparently I made the ‘mistake’ of being linked to by a website called RavenWing, whose authors, Charlie and Melody Jenkins, are exploring the tensions and commonalities between neopagan practice and Christian faith. I’ve gotta admit, Ingrid, they have some pretty interesting beliefs. The thing to keep in mind of course is a.) They found me, not vice-versa, and b.) I’d love to hang out with the Jenkins over tea or something, and talk with them about their lives and faith journeys, rather than make some appraisal of their beliefs with the degree of easy finality that you do. I guess that’s just ’cause I’m just soooooooooo emergent. Either that or because I think there’s something to that whole ‘ministers of reconciliation’ thing.

But this isn’t all I’m being Sliced over. Ingrid continues,

“The ZoeCarnate [sic] site is also promoting The Shack as must reading for emerging Christians.”

Interestingly, she draws this connection because of the banners I have up on this blog and my site for the book, not because I’m one of the endorsers easily visible on the back cover. Why, oh why, does Eugene get all the attention? I feel slighted. To apply “eye salve” to this clear oversight (If you’re gonna play guilt-by-association, the heresy-hunters’ favorite game, you can’t miss key links like this), let me clarify just how much I love The Shack. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

“Finally! A guy-meets-God novel that has literary integrity and spiritual daring. The Shack cuts through the cliches of both religion and bad writing to reveal something compelling and beautiful about life’s integral dance with the divine. This story reads like a prayer–like the best kinds of prayer, filled with sweat and wonder and transparency and surprise. When I read it, I felt like I was fellowshipping with God. If you read one work of fiction this year, let this be it.”

I said it. I believe it. That settles it. : )

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiggh. This isn’t the first time self-proclaimed Christian Watch Doggies have targeted me, and I doubt it’ll be the last. If they only knew the company I keep, the friends I have, and the ideas that run through my mind while invoking Baphomet in my blood-drawn pentagram!

In all seriousness (and c’mon guys, that previous sentence wasn’t, so no fair quoting it as though it was), these folks might be surprised to know that I (and every alt.Christian I know) believe that there is such a thing as harmful or destructive teaching, we do think about our beliefs, and we don’t rip Jude or 2 Peter out of our Bibles. But the warning passages there (and in Timothy and the Gospels) aren’t biblical wax noses that we can bend at whim; there were specific heresies (dualism and legalism) being addressed in the pages of the New Testament. We’d do wise to treat these ‘attack passages’ (as they’ve become) while wearing asbestos gloves, with fear and trembling. We should pray and fast before ever leveling them at a sister or brother in Christ. Our reverence for Holy Writ (and the Holy One whom we confess has inspired it) demands no less.

In other news, the fundies seem to be devouring their own

The intro to this post is new. The bulk of this was originally posted on Feb 29, 2008

See also Resisting the Logic of Heresy-Hunting: A Cautionary Tale
Gutless-Grace Girlieman Inspires Po-Motivators…Story At 11

Gutless-Grace Girlieman Inspires Po-Motivators…Story At 11

WOW. Only in the blogosphere could such a tagline have any semblance of cohesion. Welcome to the TeamPyro blog. Initiated by Phil Johnson, long-time ghostwriter for John MacArthur, TeamPyro is one of the most popular blogs in the fightin’ fundie Christian blogosphere, known for being a firebrand of Reformed wit, and inflammatory criticism of virtually everyone else. Not to mention eye-catching design.

It is the latter that has me blogging about ‘em today. This weekend a couple of Phil’s accomplices on the ‘blog posted a particularly incendiary post, indicting (in the courtroom of their enlightened opinions) Jesus-followers participating in the emerging conversation for favoring style over substance, running roughshod over Scripture and the good news of God found in Christ–accusing of us of virtually everything except for eating small puppy dogs. They baited emerging church conversants/practitioners to come in and make our case, with the stated goal of the whole shebang being to reach 1000 comments through the sheer controversy of it all. And I decided to waste my time participate in the thread.

What does this have to do with design? Well, these Pyromaniacs have created a medium of expression all their own, inspired by the Demotivators, called Po-Motivators (see Andrew Jones recap much about Po-Motivators here and here. UPDATE: Andrew has his own response to this Pyro post here.) Well, no fewer than four Po-Motivators were generated by Johnson in response to the comments thread in this post, influenced in part or in toto by yours truly. In Phil’s own words, “Mike Morrell inspires me.”

This is not meant as a compliment.

Without further ado, here are the brand-spanking new images “inspired” by me:

I wish I had cool dreads like these…

I actually rather like the Bible, but oh well.

This is a strange tribute indeed from Mr. Johnson. I have “known” him, in a virtual sense, since the early days of the popular-use Web in the late 1990s, when he maintained his Hall of Church History and Theology Bookmarks. Our relationship has really blossomed since then from one vantage point. I mean, back nearly a decade ago he ignored my emails taking him to task for calling Anabaptists violent extremists (he seems to have cleaned up this rhetoric since then) and saying that those of us engaged in house churcheswant to play ‘church’ but despise authority.”And now, look how far we’ve come! He’s creating original artistic renderings in my “honor”! I’m speechless.

While I am unable (and unwilling…see below) to respond in kind, bloggers far more design-gifted than I have crafted their own comebacks to these pithy little postcards. Here are a couple:

Conversation

apologetics.jpg

And so, the question is begged: Is such debate even helpful? Jesus often refused to answer his critics, even refused to defend himself when he was on trial. He could “read” people’s souls, and know when not to bother. (This is buttressed by the whole not casting your pearls before swine thing.) Fools, it seems, rush into ill-advised conversation where angels fear to tread. There is plenty of sound spiritual precedent to hold one’s tongue and not enter the fray.

At the same time, I’m deeply uncomfortable putting myself in the position of “Jesus” by default and fellow Christians–obnoxious though they can be–as “Jesus’ accusers.” This is rather unreflective and un-challenging hermeneutics. Surely, iron sharpens iron and a three-stranded cord isn’t easily broken. Certainly, it is blessed and good when sisters and brothers dwell together in unity–and sometimes, this cannot happen without soul-searching conversation and–indeed–hard confrontation when the occasion calls for it. Vineyard founder John Wimber wrote a helpful paper 15 years ago, Why I Respond to Criticism, that addresses many of the salient issues at stake.

Criticism of the emerging church conversation is nothing new, though it’s actually a bit newer than some of us may realize, as it’s “felt like forever” since we were free from constant cross-examination. But Stephen Shields was able to write accurately at the very end of 2004 that we “have so far been impressed by how generous and restrained critique has been.” The reason was this: from the 1990s onward, different groups of us began quietly rethinking and reimagining what it means to be faithful to God and God’s work on earth in our postmodern context. Because the early thinkers were church planters, ministers who worked with kids, and other “off-the-radar” folks in praxis, at the grass-roots, we weren’t on the map of heresy-hunting “discernment ministries,” who spent the 90s warning conservative Christians about alleged goddess worship in Mainline churches, laughing revival in charismatic churches, and that crazy liberal innovator Chuck Colson and his Evangelicals and Catholics Together initiatives.

But in 2004 all this began to change–Christianity Today did a cover story on us and Brian McLaren was selected as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Evangelical voices in America. While our numbers may not have spiked considerably between ’03 and ’05, suddenly we were news. And that made us open season for all sorts of people. Not even drummers are safe.

I don’t wish to denigrate the sincere concerns of others who weren’t in our prayer meetings, conferences, email discussion lists, and message boards for all these years prior when we were “subterranean.” But in some ways, it’s been difficult to catch them up to the conversation thus far, particularly when they don’t seem to want to listen. (Lord knows I’ve tried!) And really, I don’t want to give my best and most ardent energy trying to define and defend a paradigm of spirituality. As I said in one of my too-many comments in the Team Pyro post, “I just hate [this mode of discourse], for all of us, because our theologies, spiritualities, and praxes become more like a bad rap song, all self-referential instead of singin’ about what we want to sing. Instead of conversing about what we’ve conversing about (or, if you prefer, theologizing), we start conversing about the conversation itself…which is kinda nerdy and boring…this internet thing sucks for handling disputes.”

And that, my friends, is where I’ve come down. It’s not that the Team Pyro folks aren’t my kin in Jesus. It’s not that, were we part of a single, local church, I wouldn’t spend hundreds of hours hearing their concerns and sharing mine, pleading for common heart and direction. (I happen to expend a ton of such energy in my local church, with great reward. I’d take a bullet for these people, and they know that.) But they’re not local, and none of us are particularly invested in one another’s lives and well-being. Either side of this ramped-up debate could easily find thousands of forums online attacking our lives and theologies, and we could expend a lifetime waging verbal warfare with our critics.

But it isn’t worth it, for me, any longer. After this weekend, I feel drained. Like I’ve undergone a serious spiritual attack with nothing to show for it. I don’t say this to demonize the the particular post-ers/commentors on TP. But I think we can all get sucked into a system, a transpersonal grid that has a collective spirit all its own, manipulating the whole in ways its individual parts would never consent to. I believe this is part of what the sent-one Paul meant when he described the church’s opposition to and transformation of the principalities and powers. Mutual love and respect has to precede any truly transformative conversation, and form the basis for any relationship that might later require painful words of exhortation or correction. The connection just ain’ t there, brothers.

As someone once said, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

There are literally thousands of blogs updated daily that stimulate, challenge, and edify with spiritual explorations into the heights, depth and breadth of knowing Jesus Christ, loving God and neighbor. Why should I have submit to such spiritual sadomasochism, treading in areas where I know wounded people hang out to inflict further pain on one another? As our apparently-patron saint Bono sings in “One,”

You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

I can’t keep holding on, brothers. And–with God’s grace–I won’t, any longer. I will stick around, if needed, to respond to any comments on that particular Team Pyro post, but–for my integrity and theirs–I can no longer be a party to this level of discourse.

If you find yourself to be a misfit, ragamuffin friend of Jesus, worn-out by religious rhetoric and in need of some kindness and renewing mercy, I leave you the following benediction: An encouragement from one of the more gracious of the postcard replies, appropriately, from Emerging Grace:

from Emerging Grace

This was originally posted on September 3, 2007

See also Resisting the Logic of Heresy-Hunting: A Cautionary Tale

Resisting the Logic of Heresy-Hunting: A Cautionary Tale

Recently an author whom I respect left a status update explaining why his theological schema wasn’t heretical, like certain fundamentalist heresy-hunters were accusing it of being. His schema was being tarnished,”guilt-by-association” style, with another theological schema that they deemed blasphemous, heretical, apostate – case-closed. The author, in defending himself, gave a couple of working definitions, etymologies, a history lesson and several links to show why his view, while easily mistaken for this other view, was, in fact, orthodox.

I understand why he wanted to play this game. I’ve been there myself:

When I’m afraid,

Not wanting to lose friends

Not wanting to lose peers and colleagues who are themselves afraid of guilt-by-association,

Not wanting to lose income from being lumped in with the “heretical” people – who might be nice folks, but who are walking liabilities to be associated with. Because even more scared people, without many scruples, wouldn’t think twice from firing you from a project, dis-inviting you from a conference, or dis-barring you from an association.

I get it.

But some time ago – I’m not sure when – I began to have a subtle-but-definite shift in my thinking. I still have my beliefs, I still have my integrity, I still have my scruples; I still have the grammar of faith and cosmology that comprises my orthodoxy…as do we all…

…but still…

…isn’t ‘guilt-by-association,’ in the end, a beautiful thing?

Didn’t Jesus get caught with his hand stuck

in the cookie jar of humanity

enjoying each misshapen morsel?

The real issue, though, is not tolerating demonizing people no matter what, by sheer virtue of their being humans made in the Imago Dei. Calvinists, Arminians, Trinitarians, Universalists, Sufis, Five Percenters, Hindus, atheists – we’re part of one human family; we’re all learning and growing.

Heresy-hunters will never be satisfied by our saying “WE’RE not like THEM” – they’ll keep echoing the fearful voices in our own heads, whittling us down to nothing:

First they came for the charismatics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a charismatic.
Then they came for the emergents,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t emergent.
Then they came for the universalists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a universalist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

(With thanks to Martin Niemöller)

We can still believe our perspectives; still walk in the truth as we conceive and receive it. We can even discuss and debate, passionately, with those of alternative viewpoints. But let’s not throw anyone of these alternative viewpoints under the bus while doing so. They deserve more compassion than that, and we never know when we’ll be next.

It’s Time to Break Up Monsanto

From Food Democracy Now…

Last year the Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Agriculture held a series of 5 hearings investigating anti-competitive practices in the food and agricultural sectors. The hearings were historic and gave a vital opportunity for hundreds of thousands of America’s farmers, agricultural workers and citizens to call for an end to agribusiness’ excessive monopoly power. 1

Last December, Food Democracy Now! delivered more than 200,000 citizen comments to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney with your demands to break up the worst abusers. 2

Nowhere are these abuses more prevalent than in the extreme market share enjoyed by the seed and chemical company Monsanto, which has a virtual stranglehold on seed supplies in crucial sectors that has severely limited farmers’ choice in what seeds they can buy. Monsanto’s control of the seed market is so high that 93% of soybeans, 82% of corn, 93% of cotton and 95% of sugarbeets grown in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented genes. 3

Not only is this level of market share allowing Monsanto to jack prices up on farmers because there’s no competition, but it also threatens our democracy as Monsanto uses their corporate power to influence our regulatory agencies, like the USDA, EPA and FDA, as well as Congress and the White House.

It’s time to fight back and the only way to do that is to make sure that the Department of Justice continues their investigation into Monsanto’s anti-competitive business practices.

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter asking for the Department of Justice to break up Monsanto. It’s time to stand up for farmers and our democracy. Tell the Department of Justice that it’s time to do what’s right!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=7

Over the past two months the biotech industry has gotten their way in Washington with the approval of three new genetically modified (GMO) crops. First GMO alfalfa, then GMO sugar beets and most recently an industrial GMO corn for ethanol.4

The common link between these crops, except for the fact that they’re bad for farmers and the environment, is that they face virtually no oversight once they’re planted and their genes are allowed to contaminate neighboring fields and our food. These multinational corporations are not required to submit rigorous, independent peer reviewed studies prior to approval, but are allowed to submit their own corporate science to the federal government for approval.

To date, no petitions for approval of GMO crops have been denied. The only way to reign in the abuse that determines the quality and safety of the food that you and your family consume is to put pressure on the Department of Justice is to make sure that they follow through on their investigations into Monsanto’s abusive practices.

Last year seven state attorneys general launched an investigation into whether or not Monsanto “has abused its market power to lock out competitors and raise prices” while the DOJ is investigating anti-competitive practices with Monsanto’s marketing abuses in limiting access to seeds for farmers and competitors through manipulative contracts.5

It’s time to end Monsanto’s abuses, tell the DOJ to do their job and complete this investigation. It’s clear that abuses of farmer’s rights are taking place and the U.S. government needs to stand up to them now!

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter calling for the DOJ to protect our democracy and break up Monsanto!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=9

Thanks for taking action — your support is greatly appreciated! We need your help to keep the pressure on! If you can, please consider chipping in as little as $10 to help us continue this fight.

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=12

We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.

Thank you for participating in food democracy —

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team

Sources:

1. “DOJ’S Holder Calls for Historic Era of Antitrust Enforcement in Agriculture”, March 16, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/352?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=14

2. “Your Voices Were Heard Loud and Clear in DC this Week, Thanks for Standing Up for Family Farmers”, Food Democracy Now!, December 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/353?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=16

3. “Monsanto’s Dominance Draws Antitrust Inquiry” Washington Post, November 29, 2009.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/354?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=18

4. “Update: Obama Goes Rogue on GMOs, Tell Him to Say NO to Monsanto”, Food Democracy Now!, February 15, 2011.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/355?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=20

5. “Monsanto 7-State Probe Threatens Profit From Gene in 93% of Soy”, Bloomberg, March 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/356?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=22

 

We Need to Stop Fake Net Neutrality

I don’t agree with everything Credo Mobile stands for, but on many issues I do. This is one of them, crossing my desk this evening…

Today President Obama’s Federal Communications Commission betrayed the fundamental principle of net neutrality and sold us out to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

This is the culmination of a long struggle, and it’s important we discuss frankly what led to this point. So this will be a longer e-mail than we traditionally send, with some recommended action items at the end.

Despite what you may have read in the headlines, the rules passed by the FCC today amount to nothing more than a cynical ploy by Democrats to claim a victory on net neutrality while actually caving on real protections for consumers.

Make no mistake, AT&T lobbyists pre-approved this proposal, which means consumers lost and Big Telecom won.

Net neutrality is a principle that says that Internet users, not Internet service providers (ISPs), should be in control. It ensures that Internet service providers can’t speed up, slow down, or block Web content based on its source, ownership, or destination.

Yet today the FCC, let by Obama-appointee Julius Genachowski and cheered on by the White House, voted to adopt rules that will enshrine in federal regulations for the first time the ability of AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other ISPs to discriminate between sources and types of content. And despite the fact that there is only one Internet, the rules also largely exempt cell phones and wireless devices from what meager protections the rules afford.

It’s no exaggeration to say that this decision marks the beginning of the end for the Internet as we know it.

Senator Al Franken laid out what’s at stake with this ruling, saying:

“The FCC’s action today is simply inadequate to protect consumers or preserve the free and open Internet. I am particularly disappointed to learn that the order will not specifically ban paid prioritization, allowing big companies to pay for a fast lane on the Internet and abandoning the foundation of net neutrality. The rule also contains almost no protections for mobile broadband service, remaining silent on the blocking of content, applications, and devices. Wireless technology is the future of the Internet, and for many rural Minnesotans, it’s often the only choice for broadband.”

So how did we get here? Just two years ago, net neutrality advocates were heartened by the election of a president who promised to defend net neutrality and appoint an FCC Chair who would do the same.

Initially, things looked good. After President Obama was inaugurated and after he appointed Chairman Genachowski to head the FCC, we had what we thought were three net neutrality supporters on the five-member commission and the support of the president. It seemed reasonable, therefore, to support the FCC in writing the net neutrality regulations that we needed.

But it was the FCC’s unwillingness to undo a Bush-era decision to deregulate broadband Internet providers that demonstrated how weak the Obama administration’s support for net neutrality really was.

This Bush-era decision classified broadband Internet providers outside of the legal framework that traditionally applied to companies that offer two-way communication services

After a federal court ruled that unless the FCC reversed the Bush-era decision to deregulate broadband the FCC couldn’t enforce net neutrality rules, Genachowski tested the waters with a proposal to reregulate (or in the jargon of the FCC “reclassify”) broadband. Genachowski himself said that, according to the FCC General Counsel, pushing ahead with policies without reregulating broadband would be unwise given the tenuous legal footing the FCC would find itself in. In fact, Genachowski said:

“…continuing to pursue policies with respect to broadband Internet access [without reclassifying broadband] has a serious risk of failure in court. It would involve a protracted, piecemeal approach to defending essential policy initiatives designed to protect consumers, promote competition, extend broadband to all Americans, pursue necessary public safety measures, and preserve the free and open Internet. The concern is that this path would lead the Commission straight back to its current uncertain situation-and years will have passed without actually implementing the key policies needed to improve broadband in America and enhance economic growth and broad opportunity for all Americans.”

But the Chairman changed his tune after he unsurprisingly came under pressure from the telecom giants.

From what we can gather, one of the decisive moments came when 74 Democrats signed a letter to the FCC warning Genachowski not to reclassify broadband. The letter, which was promoted by telecom lobbyists, cleverly included language to support Congressional action to address the issue of net neutrality. But given that Congress was demonstrably beholden to the telecom lobbyists, and with the Republicans threatening the FCC outright, the subtext was clear. No FCC action on reclassification meant no viable chance to implement real net neutrality rules.

CREDO aggressively acted to hold these Democrats accountable for their letter. 119,096 of us signed petitions. We held in district meetings at the offices of 12 signers. But at that point it was too late. The damage had been done.

Chairman Genachowski was quickly cowed by political pressure and signaled an unwillingness to reclassify broadband. And rather than trying to give us net neutrality protections, he has instead sought to find a way of cynically passing something he can claim is net neutrality, when it’s nothing of the sort.

We continued to fight and over the course of our campaign we submitted 158,702 public comments supporting real net neutrality. Our members made over 6,500 phone calls to the FCC. And sent 65,911 faxes to liberal FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in a last ditch attempt to get him to refuse to go along with Genachowski on his fake net neutrality proposal.

In the end, there is no way to paint this decision today as anything less than a defeat for net neutrality advocates and for our democracy.

The process demonstrated a breakdown in institutions of government that are supposed to safeguard the public interest and implement the will of the people. Here we have an example of a federal agency with the full power and authority to fulfill its mandate and protect the public interest, caving to nothing more than the withering stare of those they must regulate. The president said he supported net neutrality. There was no Republican filibuster holding us back. We simply needed the Chairman to propose real net neutrality rules that would hold up in a court of law, and we needed the three Democrats on the FCC to vote to pass them. It was that simple. And yet we failed to make it happen.

The lack of political will to confront the telecommunications giants effectively gave these oligarchic interests a veto over the rules that govern their behavior. In this way the narrow interests of a few powerful and wealthy corporations were prioritized over the public good and the literally millions of people who spoke out and demanded that the FCC protect our free and open Internet.

This is a clear example of industry capture of a regulatory body, and a damning indictment of government institutions that are supposed to regulate — not be run by — corporate interests.

Also let’s remember that a free and open Internet is an important part of 21st Century democracy. By failing to protect it, this set of rulings is similar to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that tilted the realm of public discourse even more in favor of the wealthy and the powerful.

We have to be honest and share with you who have fought with us for real net neutrality a frank assessment of what just happened at the FCC. There is not right now a next step we can propose that will undo the damage that was done today to the free and open Internet.

But we will not simply lie down and give up. Here are four things you can do now to fight the corporate interests that gave birth to this situation we find ourselves in:

1) Read and share this blog post by our friends at Progressive Campaign Change Committee with three things everyone needs to know about Chairman Genachowski’s fake net neutrality rules. huffingtonpost.com/jason-rosenbaum/breaking-fcc-breaks-obama_b_799844.html

2) Tell the FCC to at least oppose the increased consolidation of our media by opposing the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal. Click here to take action.

3) Harry Reid’s new chief of staff is a former telecom lobbyist and contributor to Republican causes. Tell Reid to fire him. Click here to take action.

4) Lastly, one senator fought to the end — Sen. Al Franken. Click here to join us in thanking him for standing up for net neutrality.

Thank you for continuing to fight.

Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Big Agriculture Declares War on Food Safety, Small Farmers

This just crossed my desk from Food Democracy Now, a grassroots advocacy group promoting slow, local, regional, and sustainable food for everyone. Please read and take action.

Urgent: Big Ag is trying to kill food safety reform in the Senate today – Give farmers and our children a fighting chance.

Click here to call your Senators Now!

So far you’ve made over 7,000 calls to your Senators – Can they Hear US Now?

Are you committed to change?  Call your Senator to pass food safety legislation now.

This past week the action in the U.S. Senate has been fast and furious. In the past 48 hours more than 7,000 Food Democracy Now! members have made phone calls to their Senators asking them to include provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act that protected family-scale farm operations from excessive regulations. You’re incredible.

Remarkably, as a result of your phone calls the Senate reached a deal on the Tester-Hagan Amendment yesterday morning. Now Big Ag has decided to throw a tantrum. Late yesterday afternoon a coalition of 20 produce groups sent a “letter” to Senate leadership urging the defeat of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Big Ag is claiming that these important farmer protection provisions are part of an “ideological war” and are doing everything they can behind the scenes to kill this important legislation.

But we can’t let them. There’s too much at stake. Every year more than 5,000 people die as a result of foodborne diseases and more than 76 million fall ill according to the Centers for Disease Control.

If you care about food safety and family farmers we’re asking you to make one more call to your Senators to make sure they understand how important passing this bill is to their constituents. We can’t let Big Ag lobbyists put petty politics over lives or farmer’s livelihoods.

Click below to tell your Senator to pass the Food Safety bill, tell them consumers and family farmer’s deserve to be protected, not Big Ag lobbyists!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/279?akid=231.53115.cbSYY3&t=7

Late Thursday evening the Senate voted 57 to 27 to move forward on the food safety bill, incredibly, some 16 Senators skipped this important vote. No wonder they call it a lame duck session! As you well know, to get this bill to pass a full vote, we’ll need 60 votes, so every vote counts. Make sure these Senator are there for the next important vote!

Democratic Senators that missed the vote included:

Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Arlen Specter (D-PA)  – both lame ducks.

John Kerry (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Jim Webb (D-VA) — no excuses.

Since the bill is being supported down fiercely partisan lines, we wanted to make sure that Food Democracy Now! members knew which Democratic Senators did not make this vote. If they had showed up, the vote would have been 63 to 27 — enough to get it to a full floor vote and passed into law.

If you live in their state make sure you call them again and tell them how important this bill is to protect children and family farmers.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/279?akid=231.53115.cbSYY3&t=9

Call All Republicans!  They are Scheming with Big to kill food safety reform.

On the Republican side of the aisle, support for the bill is weak, with only 4 Republican Senators voting for to proceed. As with everything in DC in these past few years, partisans would rather throw up roadblocks than do the people’s business.

It’s time to remind them who they work for. If you have a Republican Senator in your state, call them now.

In an odd show of weakness, 4 of the Republican sponsors of the bill either voted against cloture last night or skipped the vote.

Republican S.510 Sponsor who went AWOL on Food Safety Cloture Vote:

Judd Gregg (R-NH) lame duck Senator retiring – if you live in NH make sure that you call him and tell him to VOTE FOR the food safety bill and support consumer safety and family farmers.

Republican S.510 Sponsors who voted NO on Cloture Vote:

Richard Burr (R-NC) , Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Remember, these are Senators who actually sponsored the bill, i.e. supported it until now, when the Tester amendment was added, the amendment that you called for, and then they started caving to industry pressure.

If you live in their state let them know you care about food safety, local foos and family farmers! Click below.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/279?akid=231.53115.cbSYY3&t=11

Special Treat Performance on Food Safety

And last, but not least, Food Democracy Now! wanted to let you know about Senator Tom Coburn M.D. (R-OK), the single biggest obstacle preventing the food safety bill from passing.

Yesterday on the Senate floor, Senator Coburn gave an unbelievable performance, rambling and misstating basic facts about foodborne illnesses in the U.S.

Not only is Coburn ignorant about food safety, but in his fierce partisan desire to kill this important bill — which will protect us from serious food safety outbreaks — he proves he doesn’t care about America’s 300 million citizens who urgently need this bill.

Instead, Coburn would rather stall progress for family farmers by demanding that the U.S. ban all earmark spending through 2013. As a result of Coburn’s unreasonable demands, what food experts Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser have called “the most important food safety bill in a generation”, it languishes on a pyre of self-righteous political grandstanding.

If you live in Oklahoma, please tell Senator Coburn to stop playing chicken with your children’s food.

Let Senator Coburn know that AMERICA needs food safety reform now. America’s citizens and our farmers deserve protection.

Word on the street in DC is that Senator Coburn tried to broker a deal with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on the food safety bill and take away important provisions like “mandatory reporting”.

Tell Senator Harkin to steal Coburn’s cookies and stand strong! Pass the food safety bill as is. No more compromise, no more wasted time.

Don’t let Big Ag and one angry man’s crusade stand in the way of this important legislation — Act Today — this could be our last best chance to achieve important food safety reforms.

Make a call today — don’t let America’s children wait to grow up before this opportunity comes up again.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/279?akid=231.53115.cbSYY3&t=13

As always, thanks for participating in food democracy,

- Dave, Lisa and The Food Democracy Now! Team

On the McLaren Nay-sayers

Update: Read Brian’s own responses to these criticisms, as well as his affirmations of creedal orthodoxy & Trinitarian conviction.

It’s a new year; A New Kind of Christianity is out. I highly recommend it; it’s a fantastically thought-provoking book. Not everyone would agree, though – which is perfectly fine. Iron sharpening iron and all that. But it’s not just content-disagreement; it’s becoming increasingly fashionable to bash Brian McLaren these days. This has been the case for years actually in certain quarters, but in the last few months it’s become common for folks who might’be happily displayed a ‘Friend of Emergent’ badge on their blog a couple of years ago – folks for whom Emergent has become either too ‘establishment’ or (more common) too ‘liberal.’ I deliberately haven’t posted at all on the latest spate of ‘breaking up with emergent’ posts here because, frankly, they depress the hell out of me. But you can find a roundup of the points and counter-points here on my Delicious bookmarks. At the end of the day, I think some valid critiques have been raised, for sure, but the overall tenor of dismissal is rather debilitating, to be honest. I can’t summarize it any better than Brother Maynard has here:

The other notable point is a set of changes in what the emerging church is, how it’s defined, who’s a part of it, who still uses the term, and a plethora of other notes. Being the end of a decade, people are also tending to look farther back and farther ahead as well. On this topic, I’m saddened that within the emerging church, people who shared a pulpit at the beginning of the decade won’t share more than the time of day at the end of the decade. Though some of them will spend some time in criticism. You know who you are.

Thankfully I’ve never been through a divorce – as a child or a husband. But my parents did fight alot during one particularly painful season, and this feels identical to me. This isn’t like those big, national ‘pajamas media’ brawls writ large, some Perez Hilton vs. Matt Drudge kind’ve affair. This is like family fighting family, civil war type stuff. It saddens me, it sickens me, it raises my blood pressure and makes me go out and ROM.

So: Bringing this back to Brian. I suppose it’s inevitable that, when you’re deemed the ‘Papa’ of something as amorphous and volatile as the emergent movement, eventually your spiritual children are going to have daddy issues and take out their frustrations on dear ‘ol dad. On the other hand, some of the loudest friends-turned-critics seem to be older men of his own generation, so maybe ‘sibling rivalry’ would be closer to the truth. Nonetheless, I sense a growing sense of more-orthodox-than-thou former emergers who are reacting to what they’re deeming hyper-modernity and/or heresy and/or cheap marketing ploys.

Let’s go with this last one – Scot McKnight says that Brian’s two-question ‘Are You A Fundamentalist?’ quiz shuts down the conversation before it begins; Bill Kinnon says this quiz is fundamentalist of Brian himself, and – if jacket copy can believed – means that Brian’s setting himself up to be a deity.

Excuse me? Are we talking about the same man here? Let’s see if we can find another way to narrate this – one more in line with Philippians 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13 – you know, believing all things, hoping all things, focusing on what’s pure, righteous, of good report, et cetera.

Brian, for all his lack of formal theological education, is a deep thinker and natural teacher. He reads and travels widely, combining the insights of theology, spirituality, sociology, anthropology, futures work, and the like – synthesizing it in a way that some still find too wordy, but is nonetheless light-years easier to read than his primary source material. Beyond being a bright guy, he’s an empathetic soul – he listens deeply to folks in Africa and Latin America and the Middle East who don’t have a voice, as well as marginalized people within our own borders (LGBT folks, Muslims, etc…). He often speaks for them to religious and political power. The religious power structures in particular don’t like it because while the name of Jesus is upon his lips, they’ve convinced he’s getting Jesus’ Gospel wrong. And so the mud-slinging begins.

I am not saying, as some have recently suggested, that anyone who disagrees with Brian about the aforementioned areas of theology, spirituality, politics, etc., is automatically a mud-slinger; what I am saying is a sizable number of critics are indeed engaging in mud-slinging behavior. Brian has for years endured the worst kinds of insults – to his face and in print, even directed toward his own family, because he dare question the status quo. And being an empathetic man, he takes critiques seriously, even as he’s consistently death with such withering slander with Christ-like character (as Frank Viola notes). I am not linking the recent blog-critiques with the following extreme examples, but imagine for a moment that someone – indeed many someones – are calling you these things:

A true son of Lucifer

A Satanic author

A f*cking idiot

…and I’m deliberately leaving some of the worst ones out.

Now, imagine you’ve been hearing people say stuff like that to you for years, and you have a new book coming out where you’ll be speaking plainer than ever, shooting straight from the hip, real John 16:25 type stuff. And so you want to give your potential readers a fair warning: If you don’t approach theology and spirituality with a certain playfulness, a certain curiosity, a certain winsomeness – then my newest book might not be for you!

I think that’s fair enough. It need not be read as trying to shut down conversation, bur rather that the conversation itself is wising up, maturing. Perhaps some of us emergers, in our late 1990s youth, said “We can change the world through conversation! Come one, come all!” And that worked for us, for a few years. But starting around early 2005 or so, folks who weren’t conversing with curiosity, open-endedness, et al, began strong-arming themselves in and crying “Fire!” And emergentno.com and other sites were born, making decrying such conversations a full-time gig. From my vantage point, Brian is now doing what many wish Obama would do: Grow a pair and say “You know, my message isn’t for everybody. I’ve been very diplomatic for years, but that hasn’t gotten me very far with those who continue to loathe me and my message. So now I’m going to speak plainly to those who like these kinds of conversations, which can still be all kinds of people. Except for those who, by general disposition, are inclined to (yes) ask “Is it acceptable to my religious/ideological community or belief system?” before they ask “Is it possibly true, valuable, and worth exploring?”

Folks who fit into the first category should have their wishes to remain fundamentalists respected. And we need to realize there are siblings in Christ who proudly self-identify as fundamentalists. God bless them and their understandings of Christ’s work in the world – I mean this sincerely.

Brians’ quiz – which I think he meant tongue-in-cheek, by the way – is only a fair warning, doubly fair when including the context of Seth Godin’s short film on fundamentalism (which Scot sadly omitted from his initial posting on the quiz – intentionally or not). And if I understand how this all unfolded correctly, Brian’s idea for the quiz was suggested by Mike Todd’s posting on Seth’s fundamentalism clip, where Mike poses the million-dollar question:

When it comes to matters of faith, do we embrace questions in order to grow and learn, or do we first screen them through our rigid, existing lens in order to eliminate the ones that don’t fit our concrete, bounded structure?

This question is not meant to piss on orthodoxy(ies), or the wisdom of our spiritual forbears. But it’s about remaining open to the Light and leading of the Holy Spirit’s forward-pull into our future, which many of us see as the fullness of New Covenant living in God’s ecology. We can’t pass through this gate of insight without our curiosity and winsomeness intact and functioning healthily.

I understand the critique that Brian is generous to all orthodoxies but the one he comes from – evangelicalism and fundamentalist Christianity. He’s naturally the most trepidations of what he himself has lived through, and he’s naturally the most gracious and hopeful toward those forms of Christian faith that he’s discovered in his later years as a friendly outsider. Thus, Brian’s Christology, soteriology, hermeneutics, modes of discipleship, etc., might seem foreign to (or even hostile to) evangelicalism (or, some might imagine, a complete dismemberment of Christianity itself) – but in reality there are few original components to Brian’s new vision of Christian faith – which is why Brian himself is highly ambivalent to calling this ‘new’ at all.

He’s drawing from the deep and ancient wisdom of East Orthodox churches, Quakers and Anabaptists, mainline and liberation theologies, Catholic spirituality and more. He’s not drinking from these wells indiscriminately; what is new and original is his fresh synthesis of what he (and many of us) see as the best and most fruit-bearing dimensions of each, as we pray, worship, read Scripture and act together as learning communities. This doesn’t mean that everyone who reads ‘the story’ differently is a reverse-heretic in some new emergent papacy, but it does mean that increasing faith-diversification is undeniably the future. Will new ‘c’atholic churches be able to contain the diversity that’s already present in the Body of Christ, which will only continue to flourish as we grow toward the 22nd century? I hope so – we need all hands on deck to answer the call of the ‘Great Work’ of our time – to be Trees of Life for the healing of hatred, violence, and shattered lives and eco-systems. I know that our ‘Gospel’ is important and worth debating over – but please, let’s all sides do this in a respectful manner, not ad hominem, and expect the best of each other’s sincerity, lives, and theologies.

I hope that Brian never becomes impervious to his critics. I hope that he’s able to strain through the metric tons of crapola being dumped his way right now to pick out an occasional pearl, like  Yeah, I suppose that fundamentalism quiz could have been interpreted as polarizing, or I need to have more patience with brothers and sisters who still find much life in the institutions and beliefs that I, for reasons of my own, have moved beyond. I pray that the some of the hurtful words being directed toward a guy who’s already had a ton of hurtful words thrown his way don’t forever isolate him from hearing genuine loving disagreement.

But to my mind, while Brian is not above critique in his theology or actions, at the end of the day I see a man sincerely following Jesus – like Jesus, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. And like Jesus, having Hosannas shouted his way on Sunday, and being crucified on Friday. Jesus ‘descended into hell,’ according to the ancient creed. Like the much-more-recent Facebook group states, I’d rather be in hell with Brian than strumming harps with the bulk of his staunchest nay-sayers.

May all of us – missional and emergent, evangelical and mainline, Catholic and Pentecostal, gay and straight, deconstructionist and Radically Orthodox – fling ourselves upon the Throne of Grace and mercies of the Father, Son, and Spirit, one God, who alone saves and restores.

Amen?

*****

And in the midst of this liminal opportunity for growth in grace and mutual forbearance in this matters where so many obviously disagree, I look forward to reading and reviewing A New Kind of Christianity with the whole community of faith. Beyond the posts you’ll find amply linked to above, here are a few that I’ve found helpful:

Going to Hell with McLaren…or at least to renew an institution. Which is worse? – Dave Wainscott

A New Kind of Christianity Intro by Matt Nightingale

Book Review: A New Kind of Christianity by Bill Nieporte

A New Kind of Christianity by Pam Hoegweide

A New Kind of Blogging My Notes on A New Kind of Christianity by Dan Rustad

Questions…

Brian McLaren on the Overarching Storyline of the Bible

Porpoise Diving Life interview by Bill Dahl

Explore the Spirit interview with Brian

and finally: You will find a variety of reviews, of all persuasions, on the ViralBloggers.com post for A New Kind of Christianity.

Back On Facebook! (I Think)

Update 12/2: Some people are telling me that they can’t see my Profile link; that it’s saying ‘Page Not Found’ on Facebook. Please leave a comment below if you’re not seeing it. Trying to get to the bottom of this…

I’m back on Facebook – with new profiles. You can add me here or here – or, when in doubt, both. More on that in a moment.

So after all this time, hundreds of direct emails to Facebook from friends, and a Reactivate Mike Morrell’s Facebook Account! group on FB, I heard precisely nothing from the Powers that Be from America’s most popular social networking site. I tried creating a new profile with a different email address than the one associated with my disabled account, and my IP address was banned. I seemed to be backed into a corner with nowhere to go.

So I tried one more email to Marissa and company. It went like this:

Hi Marissa,

My apologies if some of my friends are getting agitated and venting their frustration. I know that you don’t make the rules – you only try to enforce them to the best of your ability. I’m wondering if you could get me in touch with someone who might have the ability to help me out. On November 14, my Facebook account (at http://facebook.com/zoecarnate) was disabled. It appears that some of my friends have written you to request its reinstatement. Many of them have received an email reply that included this:

“If you’re writing on behalf of a friend, please ask your friend to write to us directly, so that we can confirm their identity for account security purposes.”In the spirit of your request, I am writing you again to request that you please reinstate my Facebook profile as-is, or move the friends on my profile to my ‘fan’ Page (which has also been disabled, as I had no other administrator).Once again I’d like to appeal what triggered my deactivation. I know your time is very valuable, so I’ll be brief. On November 14, I messaged eight people I know. These eight people had been recommended by mutual friends of ours as people I should be friends with on Facebook. I could not add them directly, as for some reason my ability to add people has been disabled for nearly a year now. (My guess is because I was too close to the friend limit – I had around 4990 friends). Because I messaged these people ‘too quickly’ (I was saying essentially the same thing to all of them), I triggered your failsafe. Looking at the FAQ/appeal process however, I discovered that I engaged in none of the behavior that this failsafe is meant to prevent – I wasn’t spamming anyone, and I wasn’t sending unsolicited messages to strangers. I was contacting people I already know (in real life, actually) to invite them to connect. I had to do this with my own grandmother about a month previously. I would like my account reinstated because its how I keep in touch with thousands of people I care about. From my Facebook profile, friends and colleagues coordinate anti-human trafficking initiatives, plan sustainable food programmes, and discuss the news and books that are important to us. We would like our communication back. I’ve done nothing wrong; I haven’t violated the spirit of your guidelines.

If the larger issue is not this particular infraction, but your wariness of people having 5k friends, I understand your concern and would be willing to have these friends moved to my ‘fan’ Page, scaling my actual profile to more immediate friends and family. I will keep both updated frequently, so hopefully my existing Profile friends won’t feel they’re getting the short end of the stick.

I’m willing to do whatever it takes, and work with you in whatever way, to ensure that these misunderstandings won’t happen again. Please give me a call at (678) xxx-xxxx if you’d like to talk about this directly.

Thank you for your time,

Mike


Mike Morrell

http://twitter.com/zoecarnate

I wrote this several days ago, and have heard nothing from them about getting my original accounts back. And as I said, I couldn’t initiate any new accounts on my IP address. Thankfully, a friend who wishes to remain anonymous ‘jump-started’ a new account on my behalf and handed me the reins. This was a few days ago; I didn’t publicize my new account because part of me was wanting to wait and see if FB would disable it, too – but that’s probably just me over-personalizing what is in fact a very impersonal system. So, I’m back.

There are now two ways you can connect with me on Facebook:

My Page
My Profile

I’d like to make a request: You add me. Both times in the past when I’ve gotten in trouble with Facebook it’s when I’ve used legitimate Facebook features but did so ‘too fast.’ So while I probably could use their Friend Finder feature to re-connect with most of you in a matter of days, Facebook’s system interprets people adding at that volume as evil robot spammers. So if a thousand or so of you add me, I’m much less likely to trip up the system (and you won’t get in trouble for adding little ‘ol me). May I impose on your further? If you and I had a lot of friends and connections in common, would you post a link to my new Page/Profile (or better yet, this blog post) in your Feed so others I was connected with can know how to re-add me? And if you really have time to kill, please liberally use the Suggest a Friend feature that shows up when you add me, so that I can reconnect with the old gang. Whew! Digital connection is so arduous!

Another request, and I don’t even know how to ask this without sounding like a complete jerk: Since my Profile friends cue filled up so quickly the last time (I had 5k friends in about 18 months after joining Facebook), and I don’t want to even break 4,000 this time (because profiles just run a lot slower at that kind of volume, plus the FB system starts breathing down your neck), if its all the same to some of you, add me on my Page rather than my Profile. Pages can have twenty gazillion friends and, for whatever reason, they don’t slow down. I promise to update both Page & Profile with the same information, links, and zingers; hopefully, they’ll both have the same level of lively banter and conversation that you’ve come to expect. You will have equal access to me at both Page and Profile; it is only I who will have less access to you if we connect via my Page. (Maybe it’s best that I don’t see your drunken party pics anyway, eh?) And please know that if you add me on my Page, I won’t think of you as my ‘Fan’ – because that’s just silly. I hate, hate, hate that I even have to put this request out there – I really wish Facebook would allow for a united platform that allowed consenting adults to connect in any quantities, and in any way they wished, but alas – it’s just not that way right now. And please – when in doubt, just add me via my Profile. I don’t plan on turning anyone down as long as I’m under 4k friends. But really & truly, I’m going to be using my Page and Profile in the exact same way from now on.

One last request: If you don’t feel too cheesy doing it, add me via my Page even if you add me via my Profile. Because one huge advantage Pages have over Profiles is that I can message all of you in one fell swoop, in a way that won’t get my account disabled. I promise never to abuse this feature – if I message you once a month I’ll be surprised – but I’d like to be able to get in touch with you quickly if I find out about something really cool – like 12 free Christmas albums.

Wow. I feel ridiculously self-conscious talking about all of this. Hopefully this is the last time in a good lonnnnng time that you’ll hear me carrying on about my social networking activities. Because social networking, like 1950s children, are best seen (used) not not heard (about) – can I get an amen?

Okay – see you around Facebook, and elsewhere. Selah.

My Technological Job Moment

This has just not been my week, technologically speaking. I would never compare my life to Job in the ‘real world;’ this past week, a five-year-old girl was killed in Raleigh, after being prostituted by her mother for an undetermined time – unbeknownst to her father. The economy is allegedly recovering while an analogous recovery in employment is apparently not necesarry. Chronic hunger – euphemistically deemed ‘food insecurity’ by those fluent in policyspeak, is on the rise. And that’s just in America – to say nothing of Palestine, or Darfur.

So no, if I were attempting to compare myself to Job in The World Outside, I’d be tragically unaware. But in cyberspace, at the intersection of Big Corporate Business and Big Tech, I feel like I’ve had a steady stream of little nanobot robot servants coming to me, rattling off some techno-calamity, breathlessly finishing “…and I alone have lived to tell you!” Allow me my lament: