Liturgical rhetorician. Dad. Gardener. Flat, but in a good way.
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Digital monasticism

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We can usefully frame the choice to delete Facebook or abstain from social media or any other act of tech refusal by (admittedly loose) analogy to the monastic life. It is not for everyone. The choice can be costly. It will require self-denial and discipline. Not everyone is in a position to make such a choice even if they desired it. And maybe, under present circumstances, it would not even be altogether desirable for most people to make that choice. But it is good for all of us that some people do make that choice.

L. M. Sacasas

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matthewjmiller
87 days ago
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STL, with Nebraska in my heart
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The crux of the matter

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A: “The crux of the matter is, how can we make archaeology cool again?”

B: “We can’t!”

From Goro Miyazaki’s From Up on Poppy Hill.

This seems to me to be applicable in a variety of contexts.

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matthewjmiller
89 days ago
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STL, with Nebraska in my heart
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Mass Without Children

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A couple of weeks ago, I actually got to Mass without kids. I had the weekend off, and I decided to treat myself by going to a liturgy with a full choir and a partially sung Mass. As I sat enjoying the quiet, the beauty of the music and the freedom from having to continually […]
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matthewjmiller
90 days ago
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STL, with Nebraska in my heart
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Luther: I am not worthy to rock this little babe or wash its diapers

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What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, “O God, because I am certain that you have created me as a man and have from my body begotten this child, I also know for certain that it meets with your perfect pleasure. I confess to you that I am not worthy to rock this little babe or wash its diapers. Or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving your creature and your most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in your sight.”

God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.

Luther’s Works 45, p. 39–40. “The Estate of Marriage.” Via my friend Matt Crutchmer.

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matthewjmiller
90 days ago
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STL, with Nebraska in my heart
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Blogging, social media, and ambient humanity

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Dan Cohen is a history professor and administrator at Northeastern University; he was also the executive director of the Digital Public Library of America, and has been a general public smartypants in the field of digital humanities.

Dan recently wrote a blog post titled “Back to the Blog,” which muses on a microtrend I’ve seen as well. Friends and writers, not thousands or probably even hundreds, but solid dozens, returning to old-fashioned weblogging as a way to get their thoughts in order, take ownership of their intellectual property, get away from the Twitter hubbub, stick it to Facebook, or any one of a dozen other reasons to write a blog.

Now, a lot of the professional infrastructure of blogging that once was is broken. The ad networks that supported people don’t exist or don’t work the same way. The distribution, via RSS and then Google Reader, was monopolized and then fractured. Some of the blogging networks take as much of a walled-garden approach to their sites as Facebook does.

But, if you just want to blog (which is different from making a living as a blogger), it’s probably easier to start and host your own blog than it ever was. What’s holding people back, Cohen writes, isn’t really technical:

It is psychological gravity, not technical inertia, however, that is the greater force against the open web. Human beings are social animals and centralized social media like Twitter and Facebook provide a powerful sense of ambient humanity—the feeling that “others are here”—that is often missing when one writes on one’s own site. Facebook has a whole team of Ph.D.s in social psychology finding ways to increase that feeling of ambient humanity and thus increase your usage of their service.

The metaphor suggests that blogging either needs its own mechanisms of ambient humanity — which it’s had, in the form of links, trackbacks, conversations, even (gulp) comments, all of which replicated at least a fraction of the buzz that social media has — or it needs a kind of escape velocity to break that gravitational pull. Gravity or speed. Or a hybrid of both.

Tags: Dan Cohen   weblogs
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matthewjmiller
93 days ago
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STL, with Nebraska in my heart
cjmcnamara
94 days ago
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In this place that is waste, there shall again be habitations

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“Thus says the LORD of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks.”

Jeremiah 33:12 (ESV)

When the Bible thinks of ecological restoration, its vision is not a return to wilderness, but cultivation: shepherds working the land.

Although some have said that the Bible moves from a garden to a city, we should note the presence of shepherds resting their flocks—the pastoral setting—in its eschatological vision as well.

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matthewjmiller
93 days ago
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STL, with Nebraska in my heart
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