Wednesday, March 31, 2010

can we go back to handwriting letters and sending them through snailmail?

The following thoughts were inspired by this, which I discovered by way of my new friend Carlos, whom I met through my former-acquaintance-turned-friend Aaron.

And that there, my dearies, is what we call 'networking.' But that's not what I'm writing about in this blopgost. What I'm writing about is communication overload.

How much is too much? How many is too many? Every day, most of us receive at least one electronic message--be it email, text message, or something relating to Facebook--that requires some sort of written follow-up. Some sort of written response. And some of us take an inordinate amount of time to make that necessary (I'm not saying 'required') response.

Why? Why is it so hard to hit 'reply' and type something? Why do we take so long to answer? One message per day isn't a lot, right?

What about 365 messages per year?

Some of you--and here I'm talking to my fellow old folks--will recall the days before email. No, really, such days did exist. They're dim and foggy in my memory, but I swear they really happened. In those days, the riotous heydays of my youth, I received about...oh, let's take a guess on the high side...20 hand- or type-written letters per year that required a hand- or type-written reply. Add to that various greeting cards for holidays and birthday, etc etc, and that number goes up to maybe 50. Maybe. Per year.

So, flash forward (and no, I'm not making a TV reference) to today. If I get one response-required message per day, I'm no longer at 50 per year, I'm at 365.

But I don't get one response-required message per day.

I get an average of 5.

That's 1825 messages per year. And each one requires a response. If I spend only half an hour answering each one, I will spend 38 twenty-four-hour days (24! Count dem! 24 hours! Ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhhhh!) out of every year doing nothing but answer messages. That's more than one month per year.

In the inbox of the email account Ed and I use jointly, there are currently 7576 emails. Of these, 667 are unread. I have no idea how many are unanswered. Most times, I feel like closing that account completely and starting from scratch. Except I know that eventually, the new account will look exactly the same, and I'll end up exactly where I am now with all this, which is:

angry with myself
and disappointed in myself, because I know some of those unanswered messages came from people who are disappointed in me for not answering.

I also have this continual, grand plan to answer all the comments I've received on this blog. Haven't been able to get that done, either--and every time I think about it, I feel a painful twinge in the center of my brain.

That twinge is one part irritation and three parts guilt.

At what point is it too much?

I'm so tired of communications-inspired guilt that I'm just tired.

I know 100% for sugar-torting certain I'm not alone in this. How do *you* handle the odious monster guilt blob masquerading as your inbox?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

book comments 25

"Cell" by Stephen King
--story of what would happen if Somebody (terrorists? aliens? kids too smart for their own good--and everybody else's?) hijacked cell phone systems and sent out a signal that drives any listener crazy instantly
--also the story of a father desperate to find his son in the midst of civilization's collapse
--fast-paced, freaky, unnerving
--made me look askance at my cell phone quite a few times
--recommend to King/horror fans

"The Shack" by William P. Young
--story of Mack, whose young daughter is murdered...and four years later, he gets a note from God, inviting him to visit the site of her death for a weekend
--turns the traditional view of God upside down
--questions everything we think we know about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
In my opinion, everyone should read this book. And I mean *everyone*, no matter what your beliefs about God and afterlife and currentlife. This novel dares to address the questions: Why do pain and suffering exist? Why does God let bad things happen to good people? Everyone asks these very valid questions at some point. This book doesn't claim to have all the answers...but it offers a perspective you won't get from the majority of Answerers in this world.
--highly recommend

"Watchmen" by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
--graphic novel about what the world would be like if superheroes and their evil counterparts had really existed in different decades during the 20th century
--great art, gripping plot, gruesome bad guys
--lots of complex characterization in this one
I am eagerly anticipating getting my hands on the movie now!
--highly recommend to graphic novel and sci-fi fans

"Blaze" by Richard Bachman
--story of a conman, brain-damaged by an abusive father, who tries one last big caper on his own after his clever partner dies
--heart-rending backstory shows how easy it is for a human being to fall into criminal life if he receives no compassion from others
--delicious hints of the SK-like paranormal throughout

2010 Book Count To-Date: 12.

book comments 24, or: hey look, a non-fiction title

"Pagan Christianity?" by Frank Viola and George Barna
This book really deserves a full review, but I don't feel like writing one right now. Yes, I'm being mentally and emotionally lazy. So shoot me. ;o) But this book has changed a lot about my thinking and my way of life, so it *will* come up all on its own in future blopgosts. I guar-on-TEE it.

In short:
--analysis of contemporary practices and paradigms of non-Catholic churches
--examination of the historical origins of these practices
--sources include secular history, church history, and scripture
The authors question whether or not a church that is run like a business can ever function as the living organism (read: body) God means it to be. Their answer is that it cannot, and I agree with them. They ask a lot of the questions I (and others I know) have been asking for years. Viola and Barna don't claim to know all the answers...but they at least challenge the pat traditional answers that so many of us have been offered for such a very long time.
I appreciate the authors' attitude throughout the book. They are blunt and unafraid to critique what they consider error--but they also caution that no one should feel free to use the information to bludgeon anybody. They encourage truth without fomenting rebellion, and I think that is priceless.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. If you're a believer, you'll benefit from some education in church history and from a challenge to your preconceived ideas. If you're not a believer, this book will answer some of the questions you've always had about why churches have maintained (and still maintain) certain questionable practices.


Don't read this if you don't want your beliefs challenged. Don't read this if you don't want to have doubts. Don't read this if you don't want to get out of your comfort zone.

Don't read this if you're afraid to pass a point of no return.

2010 Book Count To-Date: 8.

Monday, March 08, 2010

thoughts on God's kingdom, based on the gospel of matthew

The kingdom of heaven is not a place.

The kingdom of heaven is the rulership of God.

Entering the kingdom of God, being a citizen of God's kingdom, means giving God control and rulership over your life. This manifests itself primarily in your relationships, which should be characterized by:


This is why being a citizen of the kingdom is the only citizenship that matters.

Being a citizen of the kingdom means having a loving, merciful, compassionate attitude (behavior, speech, thinking) toward others. It means treating others the way God treats them:

with mercy, love, and compassion;
not "playing favorites" between the "good" and the "evil";
sacrificing self for their needs;
and being radical about it.

The church is not the kingdom.

The kingdom is bigger than the church.

The church is the people who have chosen to live in God's rulership.