Fall 2011, Volume 23, Number 3
an impressive list of friends
ccording to the email that’s landed in my inbox, Stevie G (352 friends) wants to be my friend. Steve! The guy who’s been like a brother to me ever since college way back in the 1970s when we started playing Arlo Guthrie songs and arguing about football... And hot on the heels of his message comes an even more disturbing “friend request”—this one from Martha S (623 friends). What!! Martha and I have been close acquaintances for more than twenty-three years, during all of which time she has been my daughter. But she, too, at this point in time, feels the need to be my friend. My relationships with both of these good people have clearly entered a new and decisive phase, and so I obediently hit the “confirm” button. Now that I’ve finally succumbed and signed up to Facebook—long a f ter the rest of the known world, it would seem—it’s official: we’re friends. And instantly, all of Steve’s mighty crew, together with Martha’s staggering agglomeration, are notified that I, too, am numbered among them. Hmm... Something in me rebels against this. There’s no getting
away from the fact that this form of friendship, this network of social relationships, is utterly reliant on the computer. Indeed, it’s only possible because of it. But I’d be a hypocrite to object in principle to the remarkable technology that has created Facebook. Quite apart from the myriad ways in which I’ve benefited from the technical brilliance of our civilization, for years I made my living from television—a quintessentially 20th century invention. Despite its many serious and trenchant critics, I believed that it was possible to work with the medium and to create films that are beautiful and true. I still believe that. It’s not the gadgetry, as such, that bothers me about Facebook. It’s a deeper and more fundamental dynamic that accompanies it—what the great French social critic and Christian thinker, Jacques Ellul (1912–1994) called “technique.” Ellul believed that “technique” is the characteristic, the main preoccupation of our times, and it’s much more than the machinery, the circuitry, the hardware of our world. As he made clear in his ground-breaking study, The Technological Society (first published in French in 1954), it’s a mentality, a way of thinking and acting that both produces machines and is imposed on human beings by machines. Technique is the translation into action of humanity’s concern “to master things by means of reason.” It concerns itself with finding the most rational way, the most
efficient method, the best possible means of doing things. In our society, Ellul argued, technique dominates everything, including, and especially, those aspects of life that we deem least susceptible to the influence of technology—personal growth and development, sexual relationships, religion and spirituality. Wherever we look, technique is demanded and insisted upon—in the boardroom and the bedroom, the shop-floor and the sanctuary, the classroom and the confessional. Everything is claimed, colonized, and controlled by it. And Christians certainly aren’t immune. Most of our bookshelves bear eloquent witness to the high place accorded to technique in the life of the church. But under these conditions, what happens to authentic engagement and action, to commitment and spontaneity, to love and prayer? Where is the human person in all of this? Where is God? Facebook strikes me as the subjection of friendship to technique. It’s as though a unique and deeply personal set of relationships has been appropriated and branded by some other entity. Nothing is private or discreet. Everything familial and intimately shared and precious is on show, open for comment and reaction. One’s “status” is trumpeted. Hope of further relationships rests on the press of a button—“confirm” or “ignore.” Technique, Ellul maintained, “is nothing more than means and the ensemble of means.” And in this continued on bottom p.2
from the president
Are There Luddites at Regent College? such force that the British military became involved, new laws making “machine breaking” a capital crime were enacted, and extreme punishments, including execution, were carried out. One of the most apt interpretations of Ned Ludd’s destruction of the knitting frames and the 19th century Luddite social movement appears in the lyrics of a song entitled “Ned Ludd,” by “Luddite” is a swear word in contempo- songwriter and poet Robert Calvert: rary culture. As a recipient of that label, They said Ned Ludd was an idiot one is caricatured as old-fashioned, out boy of touch, irrelevant, and living in a paThat all he could do was wreck and rallel universe that is clearly deficient. destroy, and Such was the case of British textile He turned to his workmates and workers known as Luddites, a group that said: Death to Machines traced its origin to a young 18th century They tread on our future and they weaver named Ned Ludd, who is purstamp on our dreams.1 ported to have destroyed two knitting frames in a fit of rage. Over time, Ludd Many of us at Regent are concerned morphed into a mythical figure known that it is almost impossible to have a as King Ludd or Captain Ludd, and he face-to-face conversation these days became the official inspiration for a ra- without being interrupted by a smart dical social movement bearing his name phone ringing, beeping, or playing in the early 19th century. muzak; that contemporary students The Luddites were skilled artisans find it commonplace to sit in class that saw their craft begin to erode with and listen to a lecture while emailing, the arrival of machines, which not only Tweeting, and Facebooking simultaneautomated the work that had been done ously; that technology has lulled us all by their hands, but also made many of into a belief that we are available, accesthem redundant. Wide-framed looms sible, and responsible 24/7 (a claim that that could be run by less skilled workers belongs only to the triune God!); that led to a loss of livelihood and resulted in omnipresence, omniscience, and omnia social movement that had significant competence should be attributes of implications in Britain. The Luddites Yahweh, not of those who are immersed razed mills and machinery, and threa- in their iPad; that the high speed nature tened the lives of industrialists who ran of the internet programs us to skim the modernized factories—some were the superficial surface of life and deify even murdered. It was a movement of the survival of the fastest; that many
Christians use technology without any “Selah moments,” leading us to the place where engagement eliminates any reflection. These abuses of technology “tread on our future and stamp on our dreams.” However, technology can open up a future and cultivate dreams. At Regent College, we seek to avoid the Luddite extreme that negates technology by placing it under the canopy of redemption, so it can be utilized for the common good. Technology at Regent needs to facilitate research, writing, teaching, and learning, while our utilization of social media helps build connectivity with graduates and supporters all over the world. But we are users who critique and participators who observe. In the words of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, “we want to have an approach that in no way confines us to a stultified compulsion to push on blindly with technology or, what comes to the same thing, to rebel helplessly against it and curse it as the work of the devil.”2
Rod J.K. Wilson Regent College President
Endnotes 1 Robert Calvert, “Nedd Ludd,” Freq, 1985 (Computer Music Studio London). 2 Martin Heidegger, ‘‘The Question Concerning Technology,’’ in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. W. Lovitt (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1977), 25–26.
continued from the cover
culture dominated by means, “there is no longer an ‘end’; we do not know whither we are going. We have forgotten our collective ends.” Everything—and everyone—has become means. A civilization of means is the death of friendship. Where technique reigns triumphant, God and neighbour have disappeared.
The Regent World
regent-college.edu/about_regent/regentworld.php Fall 2011, Volume 23, Number 3
Senior Editor Dal Schindell Editor Veronika Klaptocz
Who are the friends that we accumulate on Facebook? What is their significance to us as people? Are we in danger of treating them as mere means? Given that I’ve signed up and started my own page, it would appear that my reservations about Facebook can’t be that serious. It’s fun, it’s useful, it’s addictive— and I’m going to stick with it for now.
But still, the nagging doubts remain. For as Umberto Eco observed, sometimes the antichrist comes in plain clothes. And sometimes, I fear, he has an impressive list of friends. Iwan Russell-Jones Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Head of the Christianity and the Arts Program
Designer Rosi Petkova Writers Ahna Phillips, Greg Kennedy, SJ David Stearns, Tim Boland Photographers Martin Dee, Ken McAllister Printer Western Printers
5800 University Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6T 2E4 Canada 604.221.3385 toll-free: 1.800.663.8664
Albert Borgmann on Grace, Cyberspace, and Face-to-Face
RW What do you see as the greatest contribution of technology to church life and to society in general? AB Technology has done a lot for society and culture. It has relieved hunger and given us much more powerful material means. But I don’t think technology has particularly empowered Christianity. In the past, the greatest technological developments have been the most central, admirable aspects of culture, and those are the ones that the church has appropriated and transformed: music, architecture, poetry. But technology is often ambiguous at best, and empty at worst. Christianity should appropriate technology at its best but can’t make technology the vehicle of its mission. The reactions of Christians to technology have been unhappy in different ways. When technology is appropriated to transform services in mega-churches, it creates a setting similar to a basketball game, and entertains people in similar ways. There has also been an angry and uncomprehending rejection of technology on the part of some fundamentalists and evangelicals, but they oppose the wrong things. And the mainline churches try to hover above it all, and are therefore not connecting to people’s realities.
But if there is no existing community, then social media is unsatisfying in and of itself. The danger, as is often the case with technology, is that the devices and commodities it provides can take off on their own. Technology is much more about displacement than it is about transformation. When you spend four hours a day watching some screen, that’s four hours you have to take away from something else. And the things that are being replaced are usually more engaging, more satisfying, more likely to make you feel happy and glad about what you’re doing. Screen time leaves people empty. But in the last three years, critics and writers have started to notice the injurious effects of information technology. A lot of time gets wasted. Lines that used to be drawn between labour and leisure are gone. Now, these boundaries need to be reconstituted as a moral necessity and responsibility. In families, there have to be limits on when and where kids can use their laptops. There has to be a sacred precinct of the dinner table where everything is shut off. We have to relearn certain conventions. When you talk to a person, you don’t look at your iPod. Furthermore, the incidental social connections that make a real difference to the social fabric have all but disappeared. I don’t go to the library anymore, and so I don’t meet anyone on my way from my office to the library. I don’t go to the bookstore. Even in the elevator, people rarely acknowledge each other. There are all these little lesions in the social fabric, and I think they degrade over time.
RW One of your lectures is entitled “Grace and Cyberspace.” How do you understand those two terms? AB Grace is the presence of God. And grace comes to us in various ways; it breaks in on us whether we ask for it or not. But there is also habitual grace, which is around us every moment of the day. The clouds part and there’s great beauty in the mountains, or the spring flowers are coming out, or a person comes your way and just gives you that wonderful smile. These are everyday things, unplanned, and they are how God becomes present to us in a habitual way. In cyberspace, things are beyond our control; we are inundated with information. I’m not saying it’s bad if a person in despair goes to a website that’s helpful. But it would be much better if that person went to someone, knocked on their door, and was welcomed in. The fog of cyberspace gets thicker every time, and we have to be careful not to let cyberspace displace habitual grace. The culture at large has not been understood by Christianity, and this has never happened before; it’s something we have to come to terms with. Theologians and Christian philosophers have a special obligation to think these things through. These are the consolations of philosophy: once you see things clearly, and do the best with God’s grace, then you can sleep at night.
The Lure of Technology
October 19–20, 2011 RW Would you say that social media Understanding and Reclaiming the World technology has enhanced our relationDr. Albert Borgmann ships and communities, or actually made us more socially awkward and distant “Grace and Cyberspace” from one another? “Pointless Perfection and Blessed AB The findings of social science research Burdens”
indicate that social media can be helpful in strengthening and aiding already existing communities. We should certainly recognize that and use social media to reinvigorate parishes and families.
“Matter and Spirit in an
Age of Science and Technology”
The Laing Lectures “explore in an interdisciplinary way the relationship between Christianity and culture, and suggest ways in which that relationship might lead to greater flourishing of the church, the larger human household, and the whole community of creation.” This year’s speaker, Albert Borgmann, is an influential figure in philosophical thought on the relationship between technology and Christianity. Dr. Borgmann has been teaching philosophy at the University of Montana since 1970.
Defining Our Terms by David Stearns
Many people associate the word “technology” exclusively with social media. And when they think of social media, they often focus on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs, ignoring older technologies such as email. But both technology and social media are terms with much broader definitions. “Social Media” The term refers to the use of networked and mobile technologies to turn personal communication into interactive group dialogue and sharing of usergenerated content. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein 1 propose six categories of social media: “collaborative projects (e.g., Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter), content communities (e.g., YouTube), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (e.g., Second Life). Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and voice over IP.” “Technology” The computer software pioneer Alan Kay once quipped that for most people, “technology is everything invented after you were born.” In more recent years, the colloquial usage of this word seems to have been restricted even further, referring only to the latest electronic devices and social media. This narrow usage, however, robs the word of its original, more capacious meaning, and in turn limits our thinking about the relationship between technology and culture. The literal meaning of the word is simply “the study of art or craft,” which not only attests to the creative nature of making things (useful or decorative), but also helps us understand the close relationship between the titles “artist” and “artisan.” Our usage of the word in the last century is actually influenced more by the German word technik, which refers to the entire compendium of the mechanical arts, their practices, products, and social influences.2 Thus, the word “technology” is really multifaceted: it refers to the skills and knowledge employed in making things (techniques); it refers to the things those skills produce (artifacts); it refers to the practices surrounding the production of those things (engineering); and it refers to the dynamic interaction between those skills/ things/practices and the social context in which they are embedded (sociotechnical systems, actor networks, etc).
Thinking Critically about Technology and Culture This multifaceted definition suggests that when we think critically about technology, we need to consider the dynamic interplay between artifacts and the social context that surrounds their design, production, marketing, and consumption. Technological adoption is an active social process, the result of which is never determined entirely by the artifacts themselves, nor by the adopting culture. What a new artifact or system is “good for” is not always immediately obvious when it is first introduced, and its proper use may be contested and shift over time (this is especially true for social media). Inventors and producers may encourage one particular pattern of use, but consumers also play an important role in “domesticating” new artifacts as they incorporate them into their lives.3 Too often, technological critique lapses into what Sherry Turkle calls a “language of addiction,” a language that “subverts our best thinking because it suggests that if there are problems, there is only one solution. To combat the addiction, you have to discard the addicting substance.”4 But if we cannot realistically give up a new device or social medium, we are left feeling hopeless. Talking about technology in this way obscures from our thinking a third possibility: an active domestication that reshapes the device or medium to be more closely aligned with our particular social values. David Stearns, PhD (Science and Technology Studies, Edinburgh), is a part-time Lecturer at Seattle Pacific University and author of the blog tech.soul.culture: Reflections on Technology, Culture, and Christian Spirituality. techsoulculture.org David is married to Chelle Stearns (MCS ’98), who taught a Summer Programs 2011 course at Regent. Endnotes 1 Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media,” Business Horizons 53 (2010): 59–68. 2 For a detailed etymology, see David Nye, Technology Matters: Questions to Live With (MIT Press, 2007). 3 Roger Silverstone and Eric Hirsch (eds), Consuming Technologies: Media and Information in Domestic Spaces (Routledge, 1992). For a more updated collection of essays on domestication, see Thomas Berker et al (eds), Domestication of Media and Technology (Open University Press, 2006). 4 Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (Basic Books, 2011).
Having Bad Designs on Creation by Greg Kennedy, SJ During Summer Programs 2011, Regent College ran a pilot course entitled Gardening the City of God, taught by Loren and Mary Ruth Wilkinson, with assistance from Dave and Teresa Diewert, Greg Kennedy, SJ, Veronica Gaylie, Rudi Krause, Matt Humphries, and Ryan Weemhof. The course was designed to help students understand the biblical hope of a New Jerusalem where the garden and the city grow together in complex relationships. The class took place in several locations: Galiano Island, Vancouver’s East Side, the UBC Farm, and the A Rocha Canada Brooksdale Centre in White Rock.
June 5–17, 2011
ad we the wisdom of Solomon, we might prefer a judicious silence to a spate of judgments on the relation between humans and Creation. Weigh the evolutionary evidence. We are creatures. Case closed. If this verdict disturbs us, we need only consult the Constitution of the cosmological order as written in Genesis. Clearly, we can carry appeals to no higher court. Given that our cosmic constitution declares us creatures, then what we make must be doubly creaturely. Our creations are, unsurprisingly, Creation. Both humans and their technology relate to Creation in the most basic and, I’m afraid, most uninteresting of ways, namely the relation of identity. So why, keeping with the legal metaphor, have we recently clogged the courts of conscience with prosecutions against technology on behalf of Creation? Why do we cross-examine the human-Creation relation as if it had not been, from the very beginning, constitutionally decided? We know that very soon after the very beginning, there arose a dissatisfied faction agitating to rewrite the Constitution. Initially a party of two, the movement now boasts of several billion disaffected beings disputing their legal status as creatures. The instigators, together with their followers, were ruled against, then sentenced to hard labour in order to recall them to their proper place. In this way, human work and its material products were put to us to reinforce our creatureliness. Far from distinguishing us from Creation, technology is the oldest method of rehabilitating human delinquency in the book. “Objection!” someone may shout. Surely the countless crimes against ecology prove that no simple relation of identity binds technology and Creation. The guilt is patent. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the work of our hands has shown brazen contempt of Creation. GardeninG the City of God Had we not only the wisdom, but also some of the worldly experience of Solomon, we might more readily acknowledge the fallenness of all things created good. Creation itself is mysteriously liable to sin (“Cursed be the land because of you...” etc.) What then is sin, if so universal? Bad design. Whatever contradicts the wellspoken order of things sins.
Whatever thwarts with awkwardness the beautiful, ongoing process of Creation, sins. Whatever lessens life, and life to the full, sins. Sin is bad design. Consequently, in order to recognize sin, we must know the principles of good design. Good design allows for the well-spoken order of the beautiful, continual process of abundant life. Cosmologists have discovered three such principles. Diversity, unity, and subjectivity: these characteristics inform our understanding of a Trinitarian Creator God. It should cause no surprise that they also characterize the same Trinitarian Creator God’s Creation. The theological “three persons in One” translates into the ecological community of interdependent species, where each member lives out its own inner impulse towards fullest development. Good design promotes diversity, unity, and subjectivity. Bad design prevents them. Take any sin you please, from adultery to acid rain, and test it against these principles. You will inevitably come upon conflict. The sin either infringes on the proper autonomy of a being, or severs its dependence, or forcibly reduces its complexity. The natural extinction of species suggests that Creation is not immune to bad design. As soon as a species grows overly specialized, predatory, or parasitic—thus opposing diversity, unity, and subjectivity respectively—it enters the phase of its demise. Identifying technology with Creation and admitting both as susceptible to bad design helps us to preserve the continuity of the biblical narrative that begins with Eden and ends in the New Jerusalem. We then can see, as if in a glass dimly, the possibility of the antipodes of urban and rural joining antiphonally in an elaborate song of praise to the Creator. When the cultural diversity of the city expands the biological diversity of its hinterland; when the increased understanding and fraternity of cosmopolitanism extends the interconnection of ecosystems; when civic education, art, and politics further express the unique “personality” of a bio-region, then good design is at work. Technology, when made true to itself as humbled Creation, can give compelling witness to the wondrous fact that “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Greg Kennedy, SJ, is a spiritual son of Gerard Manley Hopkins and one of the instructors who assisted with the Gardening the City of God course.
Readings for INDS 526
Social Media: Thoughtful Uses and Careless Abuses Craig Gay argues that “true religion is a matter of hearing and then responding with deeply personal words.”* When we’re blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, texting, and emailing, what kinds of conversations are actually taking place? And how are those conversations either building or trivializing our relationships with each other, and with God? Regent alumni and staff with an active presence in the blogosphere share their enthusiasms and trepidations.
Rosie Perera (DipCS ’01, MCS ’04) faithandtechnology.org/blog
I came to Regent 15 years ago from a successful career in software engineering, ready to leave that world behind. At Regent, I discovered spiritual theology, Neil Postman, and Wendell Berry. I became somewhat of a monastic neo-Luddite, refusing to upgrade software or hardware for years, thinking this somehow made me more open to listening to God. It didn’t really. I still had to get things done, but my computer was so slow I was held back by it, and probably spent less time in prayer. Eventually I came back to accepting the blessings of technology, my particular giftedness with it, and the joy of shaping things with it. I am now interested in not only how our use of technology has been marred by the Fall, but also how it is part of the gift of Creation, part of what makes us uniquely human, and is something we are called to be involved in redeeming. Practising a periodic technology Sabbath is beneficial to my relationships with God and others. I am learning how to bring my relationship with technology under and into my relationship with God, practising the presence of God while I’m on the computer, and making technology a subject of prayer. And I am aware how much I need community (sometimes facilitated by online interactions) to help me navigate through the challenges of living well with technology. Rosie Perera is a former Microsoft software engineer who now writes and teaches about faith and technology.
Wan Phek-How (Staff) wphow.wordpress.com Blogging is similar to journaling in that a third-person view of the self is being articulated. While the writer initially forms a picture of the self, this is then further reflected upon by a community of readers. This communal reflection serves as a corrective or guide in the process of self-understanding and awareness. While the possibility of blogging being an exercise in spiritual formation exists, a lot depends on the intent of the blog, its content, and the community of reflective readers. A blog could be used for marketing purposes, and directed to an audience of potential customers; or it can be used for a person reflecting on life. In this latter form, a community of believers can provide input and clarity to the formation or “seeing” of a truer self. Wan Phek-How is the Director of IT Services at Regent College.
Joe White (DipCS ’09; MDiv ’09) joeandheidiwhite.com The use of social media in student ministry either facilitates authentic relationships or commodifies our ego’s brand into status updates and Tweets that represent only the part of us we wish to sell. Youth workers (myself included) are prone to be the worst offenders as we were told the millennials NEED technology to engage spiritual truth, but we were wrong. Millennials, like everybody, need real relationships steeped in personal vulnerability and gospel truth and this simply doesn’t happen adequately in a technological sound bite. But go ahead, let’s start a conversation on Twitter @joeandheidi or on YouTube @ gcstudentministry, but let’s finish it in person because I want you to really know me and my church, our faults included. And remember, I don’t have a Christ-centered spirituality because I tweet about Jesus; I tweet about Jesus because I spend time with him in silence and solitude when no social media is allowed. Joe White has been a pastor for high school and college students for eight years. He has served in one of California’s poorest neighbourhoods and in Vancouver’s wealthiest. 6
René Breuel (DipCS ’09; MDiv ’09) wonderingfair.com
I think social media potentializes, reshapes and, in some cases, distorts human relationships. It helps us keep up with pregnancy news of friends across the ocean, or articulate the gospel to people around the world. But these forms of technology also tempt us to look at life as if through a computer screen that we can control, but which also squeezes a good part of the complexity and humanity of relationships out of its frame. Still, even if a tech-free life may seem simpler and more spiritual, I think we should use technology wisely, if we are to incarnate the gospel to our urban, globalized, plugged-in generation. We have to look at social media through the category of mission, and seek to embed life into it, instead of letting it drain life out of us. René Breuel is starting a new church in Rome, Italy, and edits Wondering Fair, an apologetic forum online.
Andrew Shamy (MCS ’08) compass.org.nz/conversations Marshall McLuhan once said, “We shape our tools and afterward our tools shape us.” I think of this quote often as I update my Facebook status, Tweet something clever, and decide into which Google+ circle to place a “friend/family/acquaintance.” Social media, at its worst, shapes us to be never fully present—to observe rather than participate. We are in the moment, but also Facebooking the moment: living life for online consumption. I struggle now to be fully present to my friends and to God—to sit and be and not go online to see what my other friends are doing. Social media has perhaps “connected” me with many friends I would not otherwise have time for, but I do wonder, with apologies to T.S. Eliot, where is the relationship we have lost in connecting? Andrew Shamy is New Zealand Director of the Compass Foundation, co-author of The Insect and the Buffalo, and regular contributor to the Compass Conversations blog.
Sam McLoughlin (MCS ’11) thedefaultlife.com
Technology is changing me, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. It makes me wonder where we might be headed, and what technology may decide to do with us—with that inherently unpredictable ethos of human nature. After all, we can be quite troublesome, can’t we? Fortunately, to quote Dr. Strangelove, “the automated device rules out HUMAN MEDDLING!” Perhaps, one day, like in all those Terminator, Matrix, and Kubrick movies, the machines will turn on us. They will realize that we are destroying the planet: that we are shameful, selfish creatures, and the universe is better off without us. And just as we became too cool for God, and decided he didn’t matter, we will also cease to matter. And the machines will kill us. Either that, or lobotomize the lot of us, and turn the human race into the Borg. Eat your heart out, James Cameron. Sam McLoughlin is self-publishing his first book, The Default Life, in the fall.
Conrade Yap (DipCS ’08, MDiv ’08)
blog.sabbathwalk.org, theologyatwork.wordpress.com, yapdates.blogspot.com Social media can be a bridge as well as a barrier. While it can bring people from afar closer together, it can also create distance between people in close proximity. For example, we can joyfully interact with a friend on Skype halfway around the world, and alienate the friend sitting just next to us at the same table. The key guideline I have about social media is this: “Manage social media before it manages you.” For me, one way to do that is to practise a technological Sabbath once a week. From 6pm Saturday to 6pm Sunday, I shut my computers down. Strangely, when that happens, I am free to see that life is bigger than an Internet connection. I am free to let technology be technology. I am free to let me be me, and let God be God. Conrade Yap has worked for more than 13 years in the technology industry and is an avid blogger. He is currently an Associate Pastor with Lord’s Peace Chapel, primarily involved in teaching and facilitating small groups. * Craig Gay, Dialogue, Catalogue & Monologue: Personal, Impersonal & Depersonalizing Ways to Use Words (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2008) 17. 7
Tweeting for Evangelization
interview with Krish Kandiah RW What about the disadvantages of social media, such as the time
Read Krish’s blog: krishk.com Follow Krish on Twitter: twitter.com/krishk
summer faculty interview
Listen to Krish’s lecture on “Digital Discipleship” on Regent Audio: regentaudio.com
To people who are cynical about social media, Krish Kandiah has this to say: start participating in the conversation. “Any culture we create will be a mixture of glory and brokenness. If Christians become digitally literate, we can bring light to cyberspace. If we run away from it, who can blame it for being dark?” Krish is an active blogger, Tweeter, and a firm believer that social media technology is an opportunity, not a threat. As a visiting faculty member during Summer Programs at Regent College, Krish taught the course Kinetic Christianity: Evangelism and Apologetics for the Third Millennium, and delivered an evening lecture entitled Digital Discipleship: The Opportunities and Challenges of Social Media for the Church, which was the first Regent lecture to be live-streamed on the Regent website. RW What are some of the opportunities of social media for spreading the faith? Does the church risk anything by not being part of the social media world? KK One of the positive impacts of social media on society is the sense of connectivity it has created among Christians in different parts of the globe. In the UK, social media is building a network across denominations. People are sharing resources, getting past the tribal silos we are used to living in. As Neil Postman stated, changes in information technology are not additive but ecological, changing the entire environment in which we live. Why did dinosaurs become extinct? Because they couldn’t adapt to the changes in their environment. And so churches can embrace and adapt to these changes, or they can ignore them and face further irrelevancy and possible extinction. The goal of our missionary church is to find new ways to express the never-changing gospel in an ever-changing world. And we have a good history of doing this. Without the new technology of the Gutenberg press to easily distribute Bibles and pamphlets, would the Reformation have happened as it did? The early Christians took advantage of Roman roads to travel and spread the gospel. Why can’t we make good use of social media technologies to do the same? 8
that is spent on devices instead of face-to-face interactions? KK With technology, there is a continual tension: do we
use our tools, or let the tools use us? Marshall McLuhan raised those questions in the 1960s. There is always a fear with new technologies: Socrates warned that the introduction of writing would lead to the decline of memory. We have a fight or flight instinct when cultural change happens. But we have to avoid a reactionary approach: the question is how do you engage critically and faithfully with technology? Clay Shirky, a social media commentator, says that people in their mid-twenties don’t use the word “cyberspace” anymore. It’s not seen as a separate space, but a complement to face-to-face interactions: it allows for reminders of face-toface meetings and parties, and a way to organize new events. Social media also involves a “launch and see attitude.” It helps me in my preaching. I put a skeleton of what I plan to talk about on my blog and ask people to comment. I Tweet about it, I start a Facebook page. I do a lot of prep on the computer, Tweeting with one eye and reading Scripture with the other. After the sermon, I post slides and people can comment, and the conversation continues. In terms of privacy issues, we’ve been warned of the Big Brother mentality, but now we’re choosing to broadcast ourselves. I actually want people to know what I’m thinking about, what I’m grappling with. I see it as a way to let my light shine before others, to promote an openness, to share my faith, as well as my doubts. There is of course the invasion of social media into the home. And so we need to devise a social media etiquette. You can make a conscious decision, when you meet with a friend, whether to turn your phone off, or to continue attending to calls and messages. With a group of likeminded individuals, we devised the Ten Commandments of blogging, sort of tongue-in-cheek. Krish Kandiah is Executive Director: Churches in Mission and England Director for the UK Evangelical Alliance. He is a regular speaker at university missions, and has wide experience in evangelism and cross-cultural mission.
The ten commandments of blogging 1. You shall not put your blog before your integrity. 2. You shall not make an idol of your blog. 3. You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin. 4. Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog. 5. Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes. 6. You shall not murder someone else’s honour, reputation or feelings. 7. You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind. 8. You shall not steal another person’s content. 9. You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger. 10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s blog ranking. Be content with your own content.
Follow Us on Social Media by Tim Boland In this issue of The Regent World, we are wrestling with questions about the appropriate uses of communication technologies. But there’s no question that social media is changing how people communicate and find information. Consequently, we in the Publications department have stepped up our engagement in social media in the last year, seeking to cultivate a faithful presence in these corners of cyberspace. Here’s a synopsis of what you’ll find, and where:
Twitter If there’s one thing you should know about Twitter, it’s this: there’s much more to say than what someone had for breakfast. On the Twitter account, we highlight College news and alumni accomplishments, and answer brief questions and comments from interested followers. We also link to articles and blogs from around the web on distinctively Regent topics: theology and the arts, whole-life discipleship, creation care, and so forth. If you’re not a Twitter user, you can still view our profile page to see what we’ve been talking about lately! twitter.com/regentcollege LinkedIn You’ll find us in two ways on LinkedIn. First, check out the Regent College Company page, and take a moment to “recommend” something from your Regent experience in the “Products & Services” section. Then, come find the “Regent College (Vancouver, BC)” LinkedIn group, where you can network professionally with Regent alumni & former students from around the globe. linkedin.com/company/regent-college YouTube YouTube is now the second-biggest search engine in the world after Google itself, so our YouTube site can be a key introduction point for theologically interested folks. Thus, you’ll find two major types of content on our YouTube page: Some content is produced by Regent
College to highlight who we are and what goes on here. But some is bookmarked from other YouTube users, showing what our alumni and faculty do beyond these walls. youtube.com/underthegreenroof Issuu Issuu is a Flash-based ePublishing format. We’ve been using it to post The Regent World online for the past year, and we’re thinking about putting past issues of Regent publications (like Vocatio) up here as well. issuu.com/regentcollege Blogs Hundreds of Regent grads, former students, current students, and faculty maintain their own blogs. At present, we follow almost 300 of these blogs, and select a few articles each day to highlight on an RSS feed via Google Reader. google.com/reader/shared/regentcollegeblogs Video Streaming Some of you may have noticed that, for free and for the first time, we livestreamed several evening public lectures this summer. Response so far has been very positive, and we’re exploring ways to continue using Livestream for events this year. Stay tuned! livestream.com/regentcollege ______________________________________________ Wondering about the black-and-white boxes in this article? They’re called QR codes. If you have a smartphone with a QR code reader, just scan the box or take a picture, and your phone will open the associated website. Tim Boland is the Digital Marketing Coordinator for Regent College.
Facebook The Regent College Fan Page provides a steady source of news, event highlights, pictures, and video from Regent. The Regent Bookstore, Regent Audio, and the Regent College Student Association also have their own fan pages. facebook.com/regentcollege
and Wipf gan ons dell k in
regent faculty and alumni win at canadian christian writing awards
J.I. Packer (faculty): the twenty-third annual Leslie K. Tarr Award for outstanding career achievement. Stacey Gleddiesmith (MDiv ’07): Inspirational/ Devotional Book category for Welcoming the Stranger: Readying Ourselves for
Christmas (the 2010 Advent Reader that included writing by Regent faculty, emeritus professors, and alumni). Kurt Armstrong (MCS ’07): Single Column category for “Jesus Loves Your Penis, Son” (Geez Magazine).
James K.A. Smith (Summer Lecturer, 2010): Academic Book category for Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy (Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.). Karen Stiller (former Regent staff and student) and Willard Metzger:
short-listed in Academic Book category for Going Missional: Conversations with 13 Canadian Churches who Have Embraced Missional Life (Word Alive Press). Ella Sailor (DipCS ’90): Personal Experience Article category for “I Can’t Find Him” (Inscribed).
Steve Waldschmidt (MCS ’05) directed the play She Has a Name, which sold out in its opening shows in Calgary and Red Deer and will tour North America in 2012. burntthicket.com/index.php Pacific Theatre, founded and Steve also played the lead role led by Ron Reed (DipCS ’82), of Jesus in The Canadian Badlands won a Significant Artistic Passion Play in Drumheller, Alberta. Achievement award for canadianpassionplay.com Curation and Execution of Lisa (MCS ’01) and Jesse an Outstanding Season of Theatre at the Jessie Awards. (MCS ’01) Harman have finally soulfoodvancouver.blogspot.com completed a lengthy adoption process and have a new daughter from the Ukraine. Sarah Clayton (Director of Marketing and Communications) was chosen as President4godsolovedus.com Elect of BCAMA (BC Chapter of the American Marketing Association).
Meera Bai’s (DipCS ’10) ChristianWeek article, “Why I Help Addicts Shoot Up: A Christian Defence of Harm Reduction,” co-authored by Regent professor John G. Stackhouse Jr., received first place in the Opinion Piece category for newspapers, and was chosen for an honourable mention in the prestigious A.C. Forrest Memorial Award category, at the 2011 Canadian Church Press Awards.
Carolyn Arends (current student), Tim Dickau (DipCS ’88, MDiv ’90), and Sharon Smith (DipCS ’03, MCS ’04) are all keynote speakers at the Foundations for Social Justice Conference at Tenth Avenue Alliance Church in Vancouver on Sept. 24. ychange.ca
Stephen Tu’s (former student) book Pro-Life Pulpit: Preaching and the Challenge of Abortion was published by Wipf & Stock.
President Rod Wilson taught a class on “Counselling and Community” at the Biblical Graduate School of Theology in Singapore in June 2011. While in Singapore, Rod also did a one-week conference and a leadership retreat; met with the staff at The Bible Church, where the leader pastor is Regent alumnus Soo-Yeong Beh; and met with the staff of St. John’s-St. Margaret’s Church-Singapore. bgst.edu.sg
Anthony LeDonne’s (DipCS ’01) book Historical Jesus—What Can We Know and How Can We Know It? was published by Eerdman’s.
In May/June, Diane Stinton taught a course on African theology and gave the keynote address at the launch of the Center for World Christianity at the Africa International University, Nairobi (worldchristianityaiu.wordpress.com). In July, she gave a plenary paper on African Women’s Christologies at the Ninth International IRTI Conference on “Christology in Context,” held in Potchefstroom, South Africa irticonference.org.
Jason Goode’s (MCS ’04) latest short film, The Planting, which was written for The Christian Imagination class at Regent College, was selected to screen at the Vancouver International Film Festival (Sept 29-Oct 14, 2011). viff.org/festival
Ross Hastings gave a forum on “The Coinherence of Science and Theology” at the Africa International University in June.
regent college will soon have a new website! Regent College has undertaken a major overhaul of its website. The current site houses over 600 pages of content that has become onerous to navigate. The site was built over seven years ago, and the tools now available to create powerful, sophisticated websites have improved dramatically during that time. And with the immense popularity of social media and the mobile experience, it’s time for Regent to make a shift. 10
The core purpose of the redesign is to enhance the user experience, make the existing internal platform more user-friendly, and tie the site more closely to the College’s strategic objectives. For the redesign, the College has engaged the services of web design team Domain7, which was selected after a rigorous search process. The team, which straddles technology, design, and strategy, has worked on
projects for clients such as the new Robert Lee YMCA in downtown Vancouver, the Justice Institute of British Columbia, Focus on the Family’s “Waiting to Belong” adoption initiative, and Pacific Academy in Surrey. We are excited to be working with them. Our launch date is scheduled for January 2012. Stay tuned for updates! For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
ANNUAL REPORT 2010–2011
PEOPLE Student enrollment was 591 for the Fall 2010 semester, and 557 for Winter 2011. Students came from 27 different countries, including Costa Rica, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Mainland China, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. The student age range was 21 to 76. About 25% of students were from outside Canada and the US. A lively student community was fostered through weekly worship in chapel, community groups, a Christmas worship service, the annual all-school potluck, and many other gatherings. On April 29, 2011, 166 students graduated from Regent College at the Forty-First Convocation. The following day, an Open House provided an opportunity for people to experience life at Regent. PLACE The Regent College building regularly hosts a variety of events. There were 15 Evening Public Lectures during the 2010 Spring and Summer Programs. The 2010 Laing Lecture series, featuring Dr. Susan Wise Bauer, saw an average attendance of 300 at each of 3 lectures during November 3-4. The annual Pastors’ Conference (May 4–7, 2010) saw 185 attendees. The Lookout Gallery hosted 7 art exhibits. And the Regent Bookstore sponsored half a dozen events, including a History Workshop, a special faculty lecture, and several author book-signings. ACADEMICS Regent has a growing reputation for academic excellence. At academic conferences, students represent Regent and merge faith and scholarship in a public forum. In March 2011, Regent’s Student Association sponsored an Academic Symposium, during which eight Regent students presented papers to their peers, engendering rich discussion and knowledge-sharing. Six Regent students presented academic papers at the biennial Gerard Manley Hopkins Conference in Denver in March 2011. A Regent student also presented at the Slavic Studies Conference in Los Angeles this spring.
annual report 2010–2011
he Annual Report gives a summary, in numbers, of the ways Regent has stewarded the resources entrusted to it—not only financial resources, but also resources of people, place, and programs. Regent desires to be transparent and accountable to its supporters, so that they may clearly see how Regent is fulfilling its mission to cultivate intelligent, vigo-rous, joyful commitment to Jesus Christ, His church, and His world. An overarching fact that influences many of the numbers in this report is that Regent, like the majority of graduate theological schools in North America, has faced declining student enrollment in recent years. Perhaps in part because of the larger economic crisis, this is not a surprising trend, nor one that need be immediately alarming. Regent’s expenditures do remain within budget. However, the ripple effect of the lower tuition revenue has undeniably caused significant challenges with which Regent is strategically contending over the next few years. Additionally, Regent co-sponsored The Vibrant Dance of Science and Faith symposium that was held October 26-28, 2010 in Austin, Texas. The event featured professor Ross Hastings as one of the conference speakers, and a Regent student as a paper presenter. ACKNOWLEDGING OUR NEED As exhibited here, there are many good things happening in the life of Regent. However, in the midst of this, we acknowledge some very real needs. Due to a significant drop in credit hours sold, balancing the budget has become a challenge. According to Kevin Unger, Vice-President of Finance, “Because of our high dependence on tuition as a source of revenue (70%), it is difficult—at least in the short run—to cut enough expenses or find enough new revenue to compensate.” The result is a large budget deficit for the year ending April 30, 2011. Many other institutions in this situation resort to an increase in tuition rates to offset a deficit. However, in a marked departure from this international trend, Regent has opted not to raise rates. President Rod Wilson notes that the College has carefully monitored the quality, accessibility, and affordability of its programs. “We recognize that affordability has become a key concern for current and prospective students.” To that end, the College is constantly looking for ways to make the Regent experience more affordable—whether through a freeze in tuition rates, or student scholarships. Furthermore, the College has initiated an aggressive five-year strategic plan, which aims to stabilize enrollment, achieve lasting financial equilibrium, and further refine and improve Regent’s operation. More details of this plan are forthcoming in the next edition of The Regent World. You may request a copy of our annual audited financial statements after November 1, 2011 at email@example.com.
t is overwhelming to see the tributes pouring forth from around the world in response to the passing of Rev. Dr. John Stott, who died peacefully at age 90 in London on July 27, 2011. Regent College was among the many institutions blessed and strengthened by the ministry of “Uncle John,” and President Rod Wilson has this to say: “It is with sadness that we mourn the passing of one of the great contemporary statesmen of the evangelical world. Regent College has been privileged to have had John Stott as a Summer School lecturer as well as a strong advocate and ambassador for our vision. With grace and conviction he has passed on his passion for the global church to the next generation. As a result, his faith will continue to be influential for many years to come.” A forthcoming Regent World will include a full tribute to Stott’s impact at Regent. Listen to a free recording of a talk by Stott: regentaudio.com/RGDL1306S. Read Prof. John Stackhouse’s personal tribute on his blog: stackblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/john-r-w-stott-1921-2011-well-miss-you-uncle-john
John R.W. Stott 1911–2011 11
read, listen, listen again
regentbookstore.com Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology
Albert Borgmann Albert Borgmann examines some of the “invisible” dangers of a technology-driven lifestyle, and calls us to redeem and restrain technology through simple Christian practices such as citizenbased decision-making, shared meals, and daily Scripture reading. $ 21.99
Where Do We Go from Here? The Quest for Narratives in a Technological Society
Dialogue, Catalogue, Monologue: Personal, Impersonal & Depersonalizing Ways to Use Words
Craig Gay Craig Gay argues that the quality of the words we hear and speak all but determines the quality of our lives. In a culture inundated with words, how do we engage in meaningful dialogue that builds relationships? And how do we listen for the voice of God? $16.95
Tim Challies Acknowledging that technology is an inescapable aspect of our lives, author and blogger Tim Challies helps readers understand why digital technology exists and how a Christian can use new technologies with biblical discernment. $22.99
Cyberspace Stress, Sabbath & Serenity
(Laing Lectures 2000)
Three lectures on how our lives are affected by technological change, and how we need storytelling to infuse our lives with purpose, continuity, and spiritual meaning. With a response by Craig Gay. $16.00
The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion
How can Christians keep both sane and faithful in this hectic, confusing, technologically mind-boggling, cyberspaced world? According to Marva Dawn, it’s by keeping a weekly Sabbath of ceasing, resting, embracing, and feasting. $25.60
The Words We Use (Laing Lectures 2010)
Susan Wise Bauer
Three lectures on the contemporary realm of words: the state of the book in the multimedia age, right- and wrong-headed ways to argue, and public confession and private sins. With responses by Maxine Hancock and John Stackhouse. $25.60
regentradio.net featured speakers
Regent Radio allows you to listen to individual lectures and complete series by Regent College Faculty Members, Emeritus Professors, and Visiting Lecturers over the Internet. This is a great way to participate in the “Regent World,” regardless of where in the world you live. Broadcast schedules are posted daily.
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Bruce Waltke To order any book or audio set please visit the websites listed, or call the bookstore toll free at 1.800.334.3279. If you live in the Vancouver area, our local number is 604.228.1820.