Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Reformation Day!

Well, first of all. Happy Halloween!

I'm pretty excited about Ebenezer's adorable panda costume.

BUT, seeing as it's also Reformation Day, I'm thinking maybe he should dress up as Martin Luther.

Yes, it was this day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses protesting the Catholic Church's use of indulgences to the door of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, Germany, thus starting the Protestant Reformation.

I'm quite appreciative of and sympathetic to the Catholic Church--I have a deep, abiding love for it and its history and tradition, and am indebted to it in so many ways.

And yet, be it because of the accident of my place of birth or my parents or my education, I am irrevocably Protestant. Sometimes it's hard to say why, but that's the truth of the matter. And so today, I say Thank You, Martin Luther. Even though you were kind of a turd, and I will pretty  much always take the side of Erasmus when it comes to that debate, you were pretty badass and I would not be where I am without you and your Theses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Social Media Influence and Klout

I created this presentation for my social media class last week, and I thought I'd share it here too.

Klout is a site that aggregates data from multiple social media platforms and measures your influence, resulting in a score.

If nothing else, it's interesting to just see what kind of social media reach you have so you can better understand how to use your influence. However, I imagine more casual users of social media will have little use for or interest in such information. It's definitely geared toward people who are actively involved online and interested in furthering their reach.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Caturday: It's so FLUFFY Edition

This cat.

It's so. I mean. It's face. I can't. It's so cute.

Cutest cat on the internet.
Happy Caturday!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ebenezer!

With all the hullabaloo around yesterday's post, I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate today's blog space to my sweet pug, Ebenezer. Yesterday was his first birthday!

He has grown so much and gotten so big! It's really unbelievable to watch a tiny puppy grow into an actual dog.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jesus Politics // In Defense of Christian Anarchism

Today I'm linking up with Zack Hunt at The American Jesus for his week-long Jesus Politics synchroblog. Today is "Why Christians Should Not Vote," with an awesome post by Tripp York. Head over there and check out all the great posts he's featured this week, and others who are linking up for some great conversation!

For me, 2012 has been the Year of Christian Anarchism. Prior to about April this year, I had no idea Christian anarchism was even a thing--and I have a feeling many of you are unaware of it too. I don't blame you, though. The idea isn't exactly mainstream evangelical rhetoric, although once you read into it, you may be surprised at how biblically sound it really is. It's often treated as a joke--like when those dear, sweet phone bank callers ring me during dinner, and I answer, "Sorry, I'm not registered to vote--I'm an anarchist." I don't think they realize I'm serious.

So now I'm on my own personal crusade to, if not convince people to become Christian anarchists, educate them about the viewpoint, and at least defend its validity.

Let me start with three things Christian anarchism is not:

  1. Christian anarchism is not violent. Many people equate anarchism with graffiti and molotov cocktails. And while there may be a kernel of truth within that stereotype, most anarchists--and certainly Christian anarchists--are not proponents of violence. Christian anarchism is a branch of anarcho-pacifism, and a big reason why Christian anarchists do not approve of or take part in the state is because of its predilection for violence through war, capital punishment, and various kinds of police action.
  2. Christian anarchism is not about chaos. The idea of an-archy, or "no ruler," may imply a worship of chaos and fierce, every-man-for-himself individualism, however Christian anarchists do submit to the "authority" of God. The twist here is that God's power is manifested in love, as seen in the life of Jesus Christ.
  3. Christian anarchism is not disrespectful. Just because Christian anarchists do not wish to participate in the business of the state does not mean they are bent on its total destruction. Part of Christian anarchism is the understanding that the Kingdom of God--that "kingdom" based on love and care for the poor and the stranger--is simply different than the kingdom of this world. It is underpinned by the belief that following the way of Jesus calls Christians to be different--not to overtake or force the state into something it's not, but to live a life in a community that is altogether different.
In the name of parallelism, I should really balance this with three things that Christian anarchism is, but really, I don't think I could do it justice in such little space. And trust me, were I to write out all my thoughts on the subject, you'd still be reading this blog post well after the elections were over.

Instead, let me just get a little personal.

And since it's not really my style to mandate what all people should do, I submit to you three reasons why I choose not to vote:
  1. I am a pacifist. No matter which candidate you vote for (with the exception of Jill Stein. Maybe. Kind of.) you are voting for war. You are voting for the expansion of and the enslavement to the military-industrial complex. And not only that, but the government thrives on the disenfranchisement of women, people of color, the poor, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, and the environment--discrimination and oppression are types of violence.
  2. I refuse to believe that my vote is my voice. As I mentioned in my review of Electing Not to Vote,  my voice is so much bigger than a "Yes" or a "No," or a check on a ballot. And I will not be limited in the ways I use it. The election process is itself coercive, tricking people into taking part in this nationalistic ritual, and holding it up as this shining privilege--when in reality there is no choice being made except the choices already deemed acceptable to be chosen (and if you still think "The American People" are in charge of this "democracy," ask yourself why only TWO of the FIVE presidential candidates are included in the nationally aired debates). Additionally, withdrawing my vote challenges me to think of more imaginative ways for me to live out my very political faith. Instead of "voting" for a government to feed the poor, I can go break bread with the homeless in my town on my own--no need for the state to do the dirty work that I'm called to.
  3. My life is not dictated by the government. No matter who is elected, I will continue to live my life in the way of Jesus. I will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and love my enemies, regardless of who is in office, and were they to make doing such things illegal, I would continue to do them. The authority to which I submit is not the state, but the Church--the people to whom I am inexorably linked in the body and blood of Eucharist. And I'd rather spend my time and energy participating in the Table than in the voting booth. 
Obviously, there is much more to be said. I can't cover all the ins and outs and challenges and rebuttals here, but if you are interested in learning more, check out the Jesus Radicals website or download Mark van Steenwyk's That Holy Anarchist--a really good, quick-read primer on Christian Anarchism, its biblical basis, and its historical background.

You can also leave a comment or shoot me an or tweet--@keegzzz. I'd love to chat!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Caturday: Dubstep Sneezing Edition


A super cut of cats sneezing, made into dubstep.

This is why I love the internet.

Happy Caturday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Review: Electing Not to Vote

Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting

This week, I finished reading Electing Not to Vote, a collection of essays on abstaining from voting edited by Ted Lewis.

It was among my pile of Christian anarchist literature that I've been going through, but reading it now is especially timely with the presidential election looming.

I would absolutely recommend you read it in the next couple of weeks if you are a Christian wondering weather or not participating in public political life is an appropriate extension of your spiritual life. You can even read a portion of Andy Alexis-Baker's essay about the "Myth of the State As Savior and Elections as Confession of Faith" on Jesus Radicals--HERE.

I liked that each essay approaches the issue from a different perspective and offers different reasons for not voting--yet all are united in their goal of remaining faithful to following the way of Jesus and upholding the Church as a people set apart from the world. Part of the reason I liked this approach is that I have such a hard time cogently explaining my position on this question. There are so many reasons! And this book covers many of the best ones--in only 100 pages.

I especially appreciated Nekeisha Alexis-Baker's essay (although I wish she hadn't been the only female voice in the book) and how she tied not voting with a freedom to speak politically in other ways.

One quote I found to be particularly profound was this:

Refusing to vote can liberate Christians from the American myth of voting-as-voice, can free us to speak in new ways, and can liberate us from seeing the ballot box as the most effective way to promote God’s shalom in the world.

We often are told that voting is how we make our voice heard and "have our say" in government, but this is just not true. My voice and my opinion are far more nuanced than checking "Yes" or "No," and my beliefs never, ever line up exactly with any candidate. And there's no reason for me to restrict it to these methods simply because that is what is offered me by the state.

The overarching theme of the book is this: The Church is different. Its rules are not dictated by the state, but by God and God's incarnational love as seen in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And if this is true, then the way we act should look different, and challenge the structures and hierarchies of the world.

I'm planning to post more about abstaining from voting on the basis of Christianity next week, when Zack Hunt from American Jesus hosts a synchroblog--so look forward to that if you are interested in hearing more.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Theologian Thursday: Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Saint Anselm spent much of his young life cultivating a love of learning and discipline of piety with the help of his virtuous mother.

As a teenager, he applied to join a monastery and was denied, even after he prayed for an illness (which he thought would make the abbot have mercy on him) and became sick.

Once Anselm's mother died, he ran away from home because his dad--whose name was Gundulf. Seriously.--was a total jerk. After wandering the countryside, Anselm entered the Benedictine Order at a monastery in Normandy.

In 1093, Anselm was made Archbishop of Canterbury. He had many conflicts with the monarchy in England, Kings William and Henry I, who wished to have control over the church. As a result, Anselm was sent into exile at least twice. He even threatened to excommunicate King Henry.

Despite all of these political distractions, Anselm managed to continue studying and writing. His philosophy was that faith precedes reason, but that reason can indeed be valuable in the life of faith. It is from this place that he wrote the Prosologion, which includes his famous "ontological argument" for the proof of God--that God is "that than which nothing greater can be conceived," and so, since a thing existing in reality would be greater than a thing existing only in the mind, God must exist in reality.

What you should read:

(To read more about my Theologian Rating System, click HERE)
Gender Equality: 
Apparently, in his correspondence as Archbishop, Anselm engaged frequently with laywomen, and in a positive way. He shows a surprising belief in a sort of spiritual equality--asserting that women can have the same individually fruitful spiritual life as men.
Environmental Sensibility:
The more Theologian Thursday posts I write, the more I realize that care for God's creation is a relatively new concern. Besides those nature-loving mystics, nobody really talked about concern for the environment.
Heretical Tendencies:
Anselm's beliefs were quite orthodox, and are considered so to this day. While he was often at odds with the English government, he remained faithful to the Church.
General Badassery: 
Anselm definitely deserves props for running away to join a monastery. Also for writing some of the best-known works in Church history.

Here is a prayer attributed to Saint Anselm:

O Lord my God.
Teach my heart this day
where and how to find you.
You have made me and re-made me,
and you have bestowed on me
all the good things I possess,
and still I do not know you.
I have not yet done
that for which I was made.
Teach me to seek you,
for I cannot seek you
unless you teach me,
or find you
unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in my desire;
let me desire you in my seeking.  
Let me find you by loving you;
let me love you when I find you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Libraries and Pinterest

My library does not currently use Pinterest. I know lots of libraries do, especially larger and public libraries (like NYPL), and it's been a really great way to interact with patrons and get information out about programs and resources. Check out this article to see a bunch of neat applications.

NYPL's Pinterest boards include photos from their archives, infographics about the library, current reading lists, and, of course, pictures of cats.

It seems obvious that such a large and well-endowed library would have plenty to post about. They have such an interesting and extensive collection that having a glimpse into it, even virtually over social media, is exciting. Just check out their "Collections" board.

But I'm skeptical as to what value Pinterest would have for a small academic library such as my own.

The best ideas I can come up with are more for novelty's sake than anything--linking our catalog holdings with displays, or holidays, or current events. And even then it would require hunting for photos of book covers. Plus something like that might be interesting to look at, but has no viral value--not many people would be "repinning" such things. Unless perhaps they had a "To Read" type of board.

Or maybe it could be an interesting way to display books on Reserve--have a board for each course with pins for each text?

In any case, it seems like more work for little return on investment.

Have you seen valuable ways for libraries to use Pinterest? Does your library pin?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Theologian Thursday BONUS POST

Theologian Thursday now has its own PINTEREST BOARD.

Now you can check out all of the TT posts in one place--and see all the pretty images together.

Head on over and give it a follow if you like.

Theologian Thursday: Tertullian (c. 160- c. 225)


Though never canonized in the Church (perhaps due to his brief foray into Montanism), Tertullian remains one of the most important early Church Fathers.

Tertullian may not have been the first to use the word, but he was the first to present a really fleshed-out idea of Trinity--using the Latin personae and substantia. His teaching of the three Persons' numerical distinction but substantive sameness in divinity is Nicene--a hundred years before the creation of the creed. However, it seems he also believed that before Creation there was no Son, as there was no necessity for the Word. This is what we call the Arian heresy.

Anyway, Tertullian experienced Christianity as a religion more of the heart than of the brain, and in opposition to Justin Martyr and philosophy famously said, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"

What you should read:
(To read more about my Theologian Rating System, click HERE)
Gender Equality:
Tertullian basically hated Eve, because sin is apparently all her fault, and by extension all other women. He was all about policing their clothing (i.e. virgins should be veiled until they're married) and relationships (widows are sinning if they remarry). Apparently he didn't have much sway in this area though, which is probably a good thing.
Environmental Sensibility:
Tertullian was much more focused on the inner-life of the Christian, and said very little (or nothing) about caring for the environment.
Heretical Tendencies:

Montanism is now considered a heresy, even though many great Christians--including Augustine and current charismatic movements--have dabbled in it. Tertullian did not remain a Montanist, but it definitely had an effect on his thinking.
General Badassery: 
Tertullian did a lot and wrote a lot, but not much is known of his life in general, so it's hard to say. St. Jerome wrote that Tertullian served in the African army and lived to be super old, but neither of those claims has been found true.

"He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Warby Parker and Social Media

If you've followed my blog for a while, you probably remember back in August when I posted about my Warby Parker glasses frames home try-on.

It was a really nice experience, and, prompted by yet another Social Media Management assignment, I wanted to talk a bit about the company's social media strategy and how that plays a part in doing their business--and doing it well.

Warby Parker is linked to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It has "share" buttons for Facebook and Twitter on each product page, which is typical enough.

But where the company really shines is in its actual interaction and correspondence with customers.

On their Facebook page they encourage people participating in a home try-on to post pictures if they need help deciding on a pair of frames. This creates a community of users--other customers comment and like photos and offer their thoughts, and Warby Parker admins also offer advice, complete with flattering compliments.

On Twitter, the people behind the company's account troll the #warbyparker hashtag and respond to just about every @ mention they receive.

Here's the response I got when I tweeted the Instagram photo of my try-on options:

(I did end up choosing the Sinclair--they definitely know their stuff!)

What makes Warby Parker's social media campaign successful, in my opinion, is that they take the initiative to really personally respond to every tweet, and every Facebook post. I don't know how they do it--probably tons of social media reps--but it makes all the difference. So much better than a Twitter account run by a bot.

I'm not sure if they have a way of identifying if individuals who have interacted with their social media accounts actually end up purchasing their product, but I know that would be a valuable metric to have.

Regardless of metrics, though, I think the pleasant experience of interacting with a company in such a positive way is what it's all about. Consumers have a good feelings toward the company, and that makes them more likely to make a purchase, more likely to stay loyal to the brand, and more likely to tell others about the company.

Well done, Warby Parker. You are a shining beacon of what corporate social media should look like.

Have you had a similarly great social media experience with a company? Let's talk about it in the comments!

UPDATE: After posting this yesterday, Warby Parker sent me this tweet thanking me for sharing my experience. Yep, they are on point.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pinterest vs. Delicious

For my Management of Social Media class, one of my assignments is to compare two similar social media technologies. While the example given was social bookmarking, and I'm generally loathe to just follow the example, the Delicious/Pinterest dichotomy came straight to mind. I couldn't not write about this--I have too much to say, though I promise to keep it short.

I am an avid user of Pinterest (click here to check out my boards!) and have been since December 2010. I love that it's visual--there are so many beautiful and inspiring images! I could (and have) literally scrolled through pages for hours. The visual nature is especially nice because most of my pins are food. Curtis and I regularly plan our meals based on what we've seen on Pinterest lately (he has a great set of boards too). And nothing ruins a great recipe like a lack of a photo!

The only problem with Pinterest's visual MO is that if you have a page you want to save that doesn't have a picture, you can't pin it to your boards. I mean, apparently you can, but that's a weird cheater way. For this reason, Delicious is better for saving non-large-photo pages.

The other thing I like better about Delicious is that you can have private stacks. Pinterest does not (yet) have an option to create a private board for your eyes only, which is kind of a pain if you're wanting to pin Christmas gift ideas or other secrets. Apparently they're "thinking about" adding a private option, but we'll see. For now, all my secret bookmarks are on Delicious.

I could go on and on about the merits of each site, but what do y'all think? Do you use one or both of these? Which do you prefer?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Caturday: Cat hat edition

Some cats make great hats.

This week's video brought to you by my friend and classmate Sara.

Happy Caturday!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Theologian Thursday: Banned Books edition

It's unfortunately unsurprising that many challenges and bannings of books have been headed up by the Church--either as an institution itself or by its members.

In fact, from 1557-1966, the Roman Catholic Church had an index of prohibited books, which was a list of books and authors that members were restricted from reading in order to "protect" them from a corruption of their faith.

Quite a few big names made it in the index, theologian and otherwise, including some theologians I've profiled on this blog!

Here's a bit of an abridged list of highlights, adapted from a page on Fordham University's website.

  • Abelard
  • Calvin
  • Descartes
  • Erasmus
  • Hobbes
  • Hugo
  • Kant
  • Locke
  • Rousseau
  • Sartre
  • Voltaire
Luckily, the Church no longer bans books in an official capacity, but that is a small boon when you consider how often Christians are entangled in book banning crusades even today. While I can understand the value of being a community set apart, that is no excuse for denying people their freedoms.

It all comes back to that simplest of arguments: If you don't like a book, don't read it.

You can't tell people how to read, how to think, or how to live.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books Week: Fahrenheit 451

Farneheit 451.jpg

I have a feeling that Fahrenheit 451 gets brought up in every conversation about banned books--it is, after all, set in a society that bans books.

But I think what's so significant about this book is that it's not so much the government that bars people from owning and reading books--it's the society itself. It's not about tyrannical censorship; it's about self-censorship by way of apathy, hedonism, and a lack of education.

The main character's wife, Mildred, embodies this shallow worldview, to the extent that even when her husband tries to enlighten her, she blows him off and reports him to the authorities.

I read this book my freshman year of high school, and was surprised to find that it has been banned and removed from high school curriculum mostly for language--which is actually quite mild. Do parents honestly believe that their children's reading of the words "hell" and "damn" will corrupt them? If it wasn't so unfortunately true, I'd laugh.

This is an important book, especially for young adults, to read. It teaches how important it is to think for yourself, and that education and learning the value of human history can make all the difference in a society that often mistakes pleasure for joy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Books Week

Nothing gets me excited like being a little subversive. 

And with this week being Banned Books Week, I get to be a subversive book-pusher--even better!

I don't know why I feel more excited about Banned Books Week this year than in previous years. Maybe it's the classes I've taken where we've talked about access and censorship. Maybe it's been my recent interest in Christian anarchism. Maybe it's the fact that I had to drag that bookshelf (see photo) out of my office for our display and now it's all empty in here and I have personal, physical investment in this display.

Whatever it is, I'm all in and I've already had some really great conversations with students about censorship--what it is, why it's bad, and why we should do everything in our power to stop it. Several students have already taken books off the shelf to check out. So rewarding!

I'll be back later this week with another Banned Books Week themed post or two, talking about my favorite banned book(s) and why the heck the Church is so often leading the crusade against information.

I hope you're celebrating your freedom to read this week! Pick a book off The List and stick it to The Man!