Caryn’s 23 things – and then some

Racing into Library 2.0 with LOL and others

Tebowing?

People not familiar with American football may not know about the recent phenomenon of “Tebowing” – the practice of dropping to one knee after a successful play to give thanks to #God for the triumph.  More and more, recently, athletes are doing this, or, as my husband described, running down the field, pumping a fist and yelling, “Thank you, #Jesus!”  As a religious person myself, I haven’t been sure what to make of this.

On one hand, it’s certainly good when #Christians in public life make no secret of their beliefs.  This can, obviously, be a good influence on their fans, who may decide to look into it themselves.  But thanking God for a victory is problematic, to me.

If I have a difficult task, test, etc., I’ll often ask God to help me do my best on it – not blank out on a concept, forget a key word, and so on.  When I do come out of it successfully, I do thank God for the help.  But this is in my own head, not dropping down or screaming out in front of millions of people.  Jesus told us to “go into our closet” to pray, instead of doing it on the street corner (I think a football field with national TV coverage can count as that!).  Such a public display of religiosity as this may do more for the image of the person doing it than for his relationship with God, and as such may turn off as many people as it starts on the road to conversion.

Another problem with this is that non-Christians (and probably some Christians, as well) see such public prayers as an attempt to get God to grant them a victory by magic, just because they are so good.  As with armies in the past, if people on both sides are praying for the victory, does that mean that after the battle, the ones who won did so because God likes them better?  To me, that’s a ridiculous thought, and since it is also ridiculous to non-Christians, they take it as another proof that religion is for idiots.

I see it as one of my tasks in life to show other intelligent people that Christians can be intelligent, thoughtful, and logical; therefore, I, at least, think I’ll keep my thanks in the closet.

August 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Predestination?

Wow, I’ve missed a couple of Lents on this, haven’t I!  Oh, well, I’ve been going to Bible study right along.

I was raised partly #Presbyterian (I just looked for the entry on my religious history to link to, but I don’t see one – I can’t imagine I never wrote it!), but I didn’t know until fairly recently that they are #Predestinationists.  What reminded me of this is that as part of my Lenten reading this year, I’m reading a book that was the text for one of my Sunday school classes in high school, called Will the Real Phony Please Stand Up?  It’s a study of the letter of James in the New Testament.  I’ve only just started it, but already I’ve encountered the concept that God knows what we’re going to do, what’s going to come of it, and whether we’ll get to Heaven or not because of our accumulated actions.  This makes the whole philosphy clearer to me!

[later – found it: http://carynw.xanga.com/569211552/musing/]

I’ve always thought #predestination was a very weird concept, and I’ve always wondered why Predestinationists were often among the strictest Christians.  Why bother, I’ve always thought, if God has already assigned you to Heaven or hell?  Go with the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, and let the chips fall where they may (or rather, are going to anyway).  This book, though, has made me actually see what it is.  It is a belief that one’s fate is predestined only in the sense mentioned above, that God knows what you’re going to do, and therefore where you’re going to end up.  However,  I believe that God sees the entirety of #Eternity, including all of time and of our lives, and can watch us “in action,” as it were.  Boethius, whom I’ve referred to in this blog (http://carynw.xanga.com/449300975/2-am-musing/), had a great simile for this: Imagine God watching all of us like a person watches a sports match.  Just because you watch someone do something doesn’t mean you’re making them do it, and the same with God.  Just because Te knows what’s going to happen, that doesn’t mean Te is making it happen.  We do still have free will, and can decide our own actions, and it is as a result of these actions that our fate is decided.  God isn’t assigning us anywhere – we have free will, and we can use it as we please.

It turns out that Predestinationism is just more or less what I think, but viewed through a lens of time rather than Eternity.  It does explain, I guess, why they’re so strict, anyway, but I think a more expansive view of free will and what we do with it is warranted.

March 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtually Sacramental

There’s a fascinating discussion going on at Brownblog about the idea of virtual communion, and spreading out to consider some other sacraments.  The comments and links are all well-considered and cogent, but infused with the passion serious people can have about religion and worship.

One comment took me to a blog post by a person who’d attended a virtual funeral.  It wasn’t in Second Life, but was held over the Internet.  The attendee at this BYOE (Bring Your Own Elements) event was truly moved by the power of the liturgy, and it was indeed to her “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”

Her Host in this case was a Trisquit, which she broke and elevated on cue when the words of consecration came over her computer, which she had set up in her own holy place where, I gather, she frequently went to pray.  Some of the other comments and links from the original Brownblog mention similar cases in which people at home have had Elements consecrated remotely, and the people involved did feel that the Sacrament was efficacious.

That reminded me of my post on Ensoulment, in which I said,

Well, for one thing, “is it possible for God” is kind of a stupid
question.  The only thing impossible for God is evil.  Even hate has a
place within God’s boundless love, and it seems to me that as long as
the question isn’t “is it possible for God to do evil?,” the answer has
to be “yes.”  All things are possible for God; if we can imagine it, we
can be assured that it’s within God’s abilities.

If God wants to give us the grace of Communion, God can do it whether we’re at church, or in the back yard, or on the computer, or wherever.  Much of the Sacrament takes place in the mind of the communicant, and is the communication between God and worshipper.

However, we humans seem to need rules, especially in our relationship with God.  Some of us have chosen a medium for worship which involves a lot of rules (or traditions, depending on how you see them), and if we don’t follow those rules/rituals/liturgy, we are no longer worshipping as we ourselves have chosen.  I’m Episcopalian largely because of the pageantry and the ritual – if I suddenly decide that I’m ok with a Eucharist given virtually to my avatar in SL, or with one consecrated over the computer or the phone, taken with no one else physically present with me, am I still Episcopalian?

A number of years ago, when I was still fairly new in the Episcopal church, I asked our associate priest, Bunker Hill, about the Eucharist.  I pointed out that Jesus had told His disciples, “As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me.”  Didn’t that mean that *every* time we eat and drink, we should regard it as a little Eucharist?  He said, “Well, you could interpret it that way.  But that’s not how Episcopalians do it.”

I think this discussion is not so much whether a virtual Sacrament is still a Sacrament, as it is about who we are and how we want to relate to God.  If we feel that the traditional forms are still useful as a framework for this relationship, we are making our decision on that basis.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that a virtual Sacrament isn’t ever valid, for anyone, under any circumstances; it just means that it isn’t valid for us.  (Of course, it might *not* be valid for anyone – that’s what we’re trying to figure out!)

July 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Other hands…

As might be evident from the title, I started this blog as an attempt at communication.  I’d missed having anyone to discuss theology with since college, and hoped this might open the door to some conversations on the subject.  However, it is not true that “if you write it, they will read,” and even the few people who do read this rarely if ever comment.  I’m not saying it to be self-pitying; I’m just recognizing that this blog hasn’t fulfilled its purpose.

However, I have found people who will discuss theology with me, at my church in Second Life.  No one is embarrassed to talk about it, or treats it lightly, and the community of believers is nourishing to my soul.

This means, though, that I’m no longer trying to communicate via this blog.  I realized that recently, when I was wondering why I was thinking about God so much, but never writing in the blog.  I’m not saying I’ll never update it again, but there’s a reason for the slowdown.

If I write again, you’ll be the first to know; until then, I’m off to Second Life to play Pattycakes.

May 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Encounter with Technorati

For some reason, I’ve been stuck on the Technorati “thing.”  I’ve been in kind of a loop, where I read the item, go to Technorati, follow some of the directions, then wander off.  I think I’m going to declare myself as familiar with it as I’m going to get right now, and move on to the next thing!  I’ll see about answering their questions, anyway, before I abandon it.

Reflections: Localize your learnings

  • What value-add does a tool like Technorati offer your library?
  • Does the ability to monitor people’s conversations and the tags people are applying to their content offer additional research portals for your products and services?
  • How could you incorporate information Technorati offers into the research delivered to your users?
  • How would you maintain authority and reliability of information pulled from this resource?

Well, I think I see the problem.  None of these questions really have any applicability to my library.  Here at the Patent Office, we want the *oldest* information, not the newest!  What’s posted in the blogs might be useful to us eventually, and the tagging and all will probably help at that point, but as of now, it’s not the most useful thing I see about Web 2.0.

October 8, 2008 Posted by | SLA 23 things, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bad things, part II

You can read the first installment at <http://weblog.xanga.com/CarynW/605428606/why-bad-things-happen.html>.  I explored some reasons that I think God might have for allowing bad things to happen.

Since then, I’ve thought of some other ones.  A few weeks ago on Second Life, I was at Bible Study (you can read about this in my last post), and the conversation came around to why bad things happen.  I gave a short (a sentence or so) version of my post, to the effect that maybe it’s so people will have the chance to be nice.  When something like a hurricane, tsunami, war, drought, or other disaster happens, people turn out with love and generosity.  One of the people in the discussion thought that was awful, but it wasn’t really the time or place to pursue it.  It’s kind of taking what I said in the last post to the logical next step – if the things are going to happen anyway, inspiring people to love and generosity is one of the ways God responds to the disaster or whatever.  Our response is God’s response, and the alternative God has chosen to forcing everyone and everything to march in lockstep. (I could have sworn I’d already written that, but I’m not finding it.)

Anyway, that made me think another step – that if nothing bad *does* happen, people get complacent, careless, and selfish.

It’s been a dream for a long time to stop hunger, and that’s one of the “bad things” people cite when the subject comes up.  How can God allow some people to starve to death?  Well, in America, for all intents and purposes, we’ve abolished hunger.  I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in America, but with welfare and WIC and soup kitchens and school lunch programs and a patchwork of other official and private services, the overwhelming majority of Americans get at least one meal a day.  (If anyone cares, I’ll look up the statistics.)  Have we taken our bounty and tried, realistically, officially, and on a real-world level, to get it out to the rest of the world?  No.  In fact, we have instead put enough work into trying to eat it all ourselves that we have become the most obese population in world history.  (Again, I’ll look it up if someone calls me on it, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a historical period in which as much of the population was as fat as most Americans are.)  We jam more food into our faces daily than many people in previous times and other parts of the world used to see in a week.  We super-size the least healthy foods, and it’s often cheaper to get more food than to get less.  This is not part of God’s plan, any more than hunger is.  Whenever there’s one of those moronic pie-eating (hot dog-eating, etc.) contests, I think about all the people in the world who would pay everything they had to get that much food to feed their families.  That sort of thing is a lot more obscene than any sex not involving children!

It’s not just food, of course.  Although we’ve always moaned about high gas prices, fuel prices in the US have been among the lowest in the industrialized world, pretty much always.  And we got so accustomed to having this affordable gasoline that we started buying bigger and bigger cars, that slurp more and more fuel.  When we’re driving during rush hour here in the DC area, my husband and I often marvel at the size and arrogance of the huge vehicles we see.  No one needs a Hummer, an Escalade, or any of those other house-sized behemouths, to go from one northern Virginia suburb to another.  And, as is the case in most of the US, each of those cars contains one person.  My husband has been led to wonder how many corporals to the gallon they get.  (A friend didn’t get the reference, until I pointed out that no generals have died in our war for oil resources.)  People apparently see no connection between their obscene (that word again) choice to send young people to die in an oil-producing country so that they can sit eight feet above the pavement.

If something wiped out the food or oil production facilities of the US, and we had a famine and/or a total fuel shortage, we’d have to eat less, share more, use public transportation, and work together to solve the problem.  So, would that be bad, or good?

September 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My church

For a long time, I’ve felt the lack of a church, and for longer than that, I’ve felt the lack of anyone to discuss theology with.  This blog was started in an effort to help the second one, but since practically no one writes comments, it’s not much of a discussion.

I don’t go to a church because I have mobility problems, and more because I don’t like to get up in the morning, but most because I have face blindness.  It’s not total – I’ll eventually connect face and name, but it takes me longer than most people expect.  But by the time you’ve been to a church five or six times, and don’t really count as a visitor any more, people recognize you and think you should recognize them.  So, picture yourself at church, talking to someone you’ve seen there a couple of times, and pouring your heart out about how worried you are about your brother.  The new person listens sympathetically, and promises to pray for him.  The following Sunday, maybe things have gotten better with your brother and you feel a little silly about talking someone’s ear off about him.  You see the person you talked to, but her gaze passes over you with a vague smile and no recognition at all.  Now you’re sure that she never wants to speak to you again for fear of never getting away, and, half embarrassed, half affronted, you decide to go along with that, and never speak to her again, either.  Little do you know that she prayed for you and your brother all week, and wants very much to find out what happened, but can’t remember who you are!  After a while, I quit going because I’m too embarrassed not to be able to recognize people I’ve talked to.

Well, I’ve finally found a church I can go to without having any of these problems.  It’s the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, and I’m very happy with it.  I don’t have to get up early, because they have a Bible Study at 2:00 Eastern, followed by church at 3:00.  And I don’t have to go anywhere – just sit at my computer.  But best of all, in Second Life, everyone’s name floats over their heads everywhere they go – I don’t have to recognize anyone!  And they’ll discuss theology with me.  Even when I was taking classes at the Seminary, I couldn’t find anyone who would, but the Anglicans of SL will.  The Bible Study has the same problem most discussion groups do, of running out of time just as the conversation is getting really good.  But on Saturdays at 2:00, there’s another discussion group without a time limit.  I’ve only been there once, but then I left after 2 hours with at least 4 or 5 people still there.  And the conversation is wonderful.

Some people have wondered whether it’s appropriate to have a church in Second Life, but I don’t see their point of view.  If you’re going to have shops, movie production companies, libraries, and clubs (which they do), you should certainly have church, too, if nothing else, to provide balance.  The discussion reminds me of Psalm 139:
7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

   8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

   9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

   10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

   11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

   12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

How about a new version of verse 8:
If I ascend up into Beliefnet.net, thou art there.  If I make my bed in NudeTeenCheerleaders.com, behold, thou art there.

There isn’t any place where God isn’t, and if we’re going to spend time on the Internet, we need to know that God is there, too.  So, if you’re on SL, come to the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, and we’ll hang out!

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

More Delicious

I didn’t realize, while running off to start my Delicious account, that there were questions to answer.  Here goes:

Reflections: Localize your learnings

  • Blog your reactions to your time spent exploring this social bookmarking site.

I’d been there before, of course, although social bookmarking had always seemed like more trouble than it was worth.  I looked up 23 Things (punctuated various ways), and found a few neat things, but wasn’t really sure whether I’d be doing anything else about it or not.

  • Do you think that using tags is a good way to organize your bookmarks?

I don’t know – it’ll take some getting used to.  I’m so used to folders, and they really fit in with the way my 20th-century mind works.  I think folders might work better for finding all of my bookmarks on a subject, without my having to remember what tags I applied to them; in folders, I can just look down the list and see that I put Patents under Intellectual Property as a separate folder instead of lumping all IP together.  OTOH, I won’t have to bookmark things twice if I want them to appear under different subject headings.  We’ll see!

  • Were you able to find sites which you were previously unaware of through del.icio.us?

Actually, yes – not long after uploading my bookmarks, I was looking for a dictionary on some obscure topic.  I don’t remember what it was, but I thought I might give Delicious a shot, and there, in someone else’s bookmarks, was just the dictionary I needed.  Very useful.

  • What do you think is the biggest advantage/disadvantage of using del.icio.us?

The bookmarks I uploaded are already out of date, since I’ve bookmarked other stuff using my browser since (I couldn’t get the Delicious bookmarking toolbar to load).  I *could* go back to the site each time and update my bookmarks, but that’s not really likely to happen.  An advantage, of course, will be that if I need something at home that I have bookmarked at work, I’ll be able to get to it.

  • Do you think you will be able to use this in your professional setting? Why or why not? 

Well, as I noted above, I already have!  The main thing, as with most of the fabulous tools I’ve heard about, will be to remember to look there.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Delicious

Fifth thing: join Delicious and tag my blog – done!  I also uploaded my bookmarks, so hopefully the Delicious community will profit from my extensive Intellectual Property links.  I had to register as CarynW23 because some dastardly person STOLE CarynW from me!  I couldn’t add the Delicious tagging button – for some reason, it wouldn’t show up.  I’ll cross that bridge next time I want to bookmark something.  Next – folksonomies and tags.

August 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Blog Central?

The 3rd and 4th things (http://wiki.sla.org/display/23Things/Week+2+Blogging#Week2Blogging-Thing3and4%3ABloggingandRegistrationwithBlogCentral) are supposed to be Starting a Blog (check) and Registration with Blog Central.  I can’t find any information about what Blog Central is and how to register, so after looking around some, I guess I’ll leave Thing 4 undone and go on to Thing 5, whatever that is.  If anyone reads this (unlikely, since it’s not registered!) and knows how to register, leave me a comment and let me know!

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment