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Preview: Dale Lature: Theoblogical

Dale Lature: Theoblogical

Theology and Blogging/ Blogging and The Church

Last Build Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2003 12:02:50 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2003 Dale Lature

The Pentecost Solution

Sun, 08 Jun 2003 16:12:42 GMT

Community is not entirely physical.  Everyone knows that,  but there is still a lot of protest from traditional Chuyrch circles about how "Virtual Faith" cannot replace the physical gathering.  And I say,  over and over,  its not about REPLACEMENT,  it's about AUGMENTATION.  It's about providign another channel into encouraging of story.  It's about "hearing the voices" of the People of God,  and even as I write this on this "Pentecost morning",  I have the feleing that very few of the people I know are even reading it,  even though I know I keep this weblog,  and update it often,  and often write about things I care deeply about. 

I also know there are people "out there" whom I've nver met face-to-face,  who DO read and who DO write me with encouragement,  and who DO understand some of my frustrations with the very things about the Church that keep me from having a paying job in the Church this very minute.  If the Church cared enough to explore every avenue into people's hearts,  and into their souls,  there are fewer avenues than that of Weblogs,  where thousands are using the avenue of writing to express their deepest angusih,  and their deepest hopes, and articulate enduring dreams that won't go away.

So maybe that's another thing that "compelled me" to SIT and put on a cup of coffee and stay home today.  A sense that I want to celebrate with the people (many of whom are probably at a physical Church meeting right now -- which is great--- I don't discourage that at all) who can understand how I could even think that there could be any portion of that Pentecost Spirit that traverses the ether.  I would say that it can and does exist in direct reverse proportion to the amount of opportunities given in the ftf world to "tell our stories" (meaning,  the fewer and more rare the ftf opportunities,  the more fervent and powerful the online exodus and celebration will be). 

But I proclaim today that this is not a "Solution",  but a resource.  The "Solution" is a community that thrives in every way,  who meet together because the people are complelled to come and be with those with whom they are on a journey.  The online resources avaliable to us toward that end numerous and the possibilities for our community to appropriate them in new and valuable ways are endless. 

Search a Public Library from an Amazon Page

Fri, 06 Jun 2003 16:07:16 GMT

This blogger (Blogos-- he seems kind of related to me in his play on the word logos) ,  newly discovered this morning via my  Technorati, link  has this poist about searching a local library (he's in Maryland) using a javascript that gets an ISBN number from Amazon. That would be cool to use.  I have often done that (all manually , of course).  Probably not Amazon's favorite kind of idea,  but I like it. 

Where do we start?

Wed, 04 Jun 2003 18:41:22 GMT

A friend  on another system asked a question:

 if we are sure that this vision of the future that has blogs and online community as key facets is the right one, how do we make that future happen? What do we need to be doing to nudge society, even church societies, in that direction?

 My immediate reply in "How We Can Begin" (but realizing ,  especially after I wrote it,  that I started ranting,  but good ranting,  I think.  In any event,  more needs to be said.  There never seems to be enough of the questions such as the one in italics above.

I also, in my reply linked above,   broke into a lot of "Cluetrain-ish" kinds of "Come on, get a clue" type of confrontation (apologies to the Cluetrain authors,  who do it and write it much better than I).  Rest assured,  I don't purport to have given all the answers,  or maybe even one in that reply.  But it was a reply that I fully intend to keep boucing up against and bouncing back for more.  It will be with us a long time.  They're attempts to "nudge" (maybe leading toward "busting in the dooor")

Linking to a Live Audience

Wed, 28 May 2003 14:22:53 GMT

I recall a line from the movie Amadeus,  used a couple of times,  as the muscial "elite" in Mozart's time attempted to find some "excuse" to justify their resistance,  even though they all obviously were in wonder at the talent Mozart possessed.  They came up with "Too many notes".  I recall also,  back in 1994,  as I was writing about the Church and the Web,  I and the educational and sociological  revolutions I saw coming,  I heard that some people were remarking "Too many links".  People were still wanting to read straight-line, point by point presentations.  The number of links I used was no more than the usual: linking to works or sites cited,  and to things usually footnoted in papers,  such as defintions of terms likely unfamiliar to the reader (links provide a way to "digress from the discussion to define or clarify,  while leaving the way wide open for others to read on,  confident that they can always back up and click the link to explore or clarify.  It offers a new style of  conversation in that links can provide SOME members of the audeince an opportunity to "stop" the narrative and "ask the author" for a "for instance" (a good candidate for a link that illustrates a point) or for background,  all without interrupting the narrative for others who want to continue following the narrative.  Students in class often hesitate to stop the professor by raising their hand and asking a question about something the prof has just said;  they don't want to possibly appear as "slower" than the rest of the crowd,  or "inconvenience" the other students who may already know the answer,  or not care.  This can be particularly true in the case of personal stories,  as in a testimony.  If the teller of the story is apparently "into" the story they are telling,  there is a hesitancy to "interrupt" the energy.  But it may be crucial to one or another listener's understanding of the story.    In this way, the "telling of our stories" on the Web offer helps to the reception of the story,  and so to the message being properly understood.  It also opens up the field for a longer period of response (could be days, weeks, months, years,  for on the Web,  threads persist over time.  The conversation cancome alive again via one "late-comer's" observation.  (The idea of the thread gives me occasion here to "jump back a few pages,  where Weinberger writes about this attribute of online conversation threads: : on the Web, our conversational threads lie waiting for us.  When they're done,  they may well be indexed by a search engine where others will find them, perhaps to our embarassment.  The Web carries its history with it as a permanent resource that can be toured or mined. ( p.68) To a people of the Book,  such as in the Judeo-Christian tradition,  this can be revolutionary. It can impact hermeneutical activity.  If there had been a Web in Paul's day, or earlier, in the history of Israel,  would the dialogical nature of communication available via Threaded discussion forums or "weblogs-as-epistle" cast a different sense of the "authority" each author placed upon the ideas they were communicating?  Would a response from one cause a corresponding clarification or even "backtrack or correction" to the theological idea just communicated,  thus calling into question the "timeless truth" status of the assertion?  The time lapse experienced between writer and hearer or reader, and the number of people who have "heard" before has an impact on the sense of authority ascribed to the message.  The "many to many" nature of the web and the speed at which a community can respond can call into question the utterances once written on tablets and read before a live audience in a sacred temple space. &[...]

We need labs to develop our enabling Web apps

Tue, 27 May 2003 23:14:45 GMT

All of that (the previous post was offered: "Some boring technical background of the Weblog building" was motivated by the slight hope (perhaps "wishful thinking") that I might be able to find a home and an academic "fellowship" in which to continue this work,  and have a way to get paid to do it or be able to manage the project and make an income, too.  I have ranted before about how the Church needs the kind of entrepeneurship such that it invests in something like an MIT Media Lab (in "An MIT for the Church" -- there, I just used a shortcut--- see the "some boring technical background of the Weblog building" entry below).  The Church has pastors, and theological teachers,  and secretaries and custodians.  It also needs to support the people who can help build the next generation of "communication technology systems" which will enable it to more effectively use not only time and paper but also its people power --like Knowledge Management.  But it goes much deeper than KM.  It's got to do with connecting people with passions for certain things; something that is known in Church structures as "calling".  People often discover that certain callings bring them together in mission with others.  The more "avenues" we enable for these callings to be expressed and explored corporately (ie. in the context of exploring call as a community),  the more effective we are in our community.  I believe so strongly that these web technologies arriving are going to accelerate the pace of  our exposure to ideas and to visions of our people.

Some boring technical background of the Weblog building

Tue, 27 May 2003 22:59:41 GMT

I do have a few technologies which I have chosen as the candidates for my "online community platform".

.Net "portal" software called DotNetNuke provides a very modular and extensible framework for hosting all kinds of interwoven features,  all stored in a single SQLServer database, a nd includes such modules as a Discussion Module (to add a threaded discussion anywhere,  link lists to which logged on members can contribute,  and a still to be released Weblog component (which is the featrure I most want to add to this.)   I have two weblog platforms I'm now using,  one is a Desktop based "Weblog generator" called Radio Userland (where I am composing this entry for the Theology Project section of my weblog called Theoblogical Community,  on which I have cut my "weblog teeth".  In the past two months,  I have added a "mirror" of thatWeblog in "Movable Type",  and have called that version or instance "Movable Theoblogical".  There are still many additional longer articles I have yet to copy from the Radio Userkand version to the Movable Type version,  and still want to do this since there are additional features in MOvable Type that Radio does not yet offer (like "TrackBack",  which is a way for differrnt weblogs to"notify" each other that a reference --- and this usually means a comment--- has been made by another author to this entry ,  and usually shows up as a numeric count of  "Trackback(s)" beneath the entry itself.  Selecting the Trackback link will open a list of links to the entries on other weblogs where this reference has been made.   The other weblog has sent a "Ping" to the referenced weblog as a "notification". 

The Weblog world,  even though mostly based on XML technologies which are touted as "Standardized" are not yet in sync as to how their entries are "tagged" and what additional features are supplied.   The longer articles I wrote in Radio Userland did not get picked up bythe export process I used to convert all the other entries into a format "importable" by the other system.  Further, the entries that did get migrated over have quite a few "Shortcuts" which Radio outputs to the html files as a href links,  but the export tool left in their native "Radio shortcut format" ,, which was simply to enclose the "Shortcut" in double quotes (like "this is a link".  Radio stores the Shortcut names in a special table that it checks for matches to what's in the quotes (which now seems lilke an odd choice to have us unsupsecting Radio "shortcut users" use).  Now I've got all these "quoted" titles ,  many of which are  actually article and entry titles that get converted to html links on the fly when Radio builds the html files with the latest entries included. 

How the Online Church concept changes with the technology

Tue, 27 May 2003 22:36:44 GMT

A new post in Theology Project, "Theology Project 2003" ,  where I take a whack at what my DMin project,  if it were to continue on "where I left off" (Just getting into the implementation of some online community platform).  

Small Pieces Loosely Joined

Sun, 25 May 2003 17:13:19 GMT

This site for the Book has all the text (it looks like it does) and discussions branching out in all directions,  creating a lot of "loosely joined pieces"

New Webhost Possibilities

Wed, 02 Apr 2003 18:21:43 GMT

If things go well with this new webhost that I will be "tinkering with" very soon,  then will be moving over there.  The Church site might also go if the Community Starter Kit seems to be a good framework to use to redesign our Church site.

The following features from the Starter Kit descriptions for "Community Starter Kit" seem to suggest to me that this might be the ticket for what I envision for Church web site development (with a few tweaks of course):

Includes Six Standard Content Modules

  • Articles
    • Self explanatory; basic content
  • Links
    • Enable Church members to contribute and editorialize on links of interest around certain issues
  • Downloads
    • Enable sharing of pdfs, Church publications,  etc.
  • Photo Gallery
    • Enable collaboration on sharing photos taken of Church events,  show off family photos in personal membership area
  • Events
    • Publicize and administer calendar for Church schedule
  • Books
    • Provide area for reccommended books (from staff,  classes, members with posting priveleges)

Create Multiple Communities with a Single Installation

  • Set community quotas
    • Set up content quotas for Staff, Contributors, Editors, and members

Additional Features

  • Send Newsletters
    • To notify the non-Web-savvy or those without affordable access, via email
  • Create voting polls
    • Get a sense of the group around issues, vote on Web content ideas 
  • Supports RSS news feeds and XML Web services
    • Enable customized information to be presented to users who choose to be alerted when appropriate/relevant content and events are added 

A renewed thesis: Opportunities for the Church in Online Community

Sat, 22 Mar 2003 15:19:01 GMT

I have been thinking about the Doctorate of Ministry (aka DMin) program that started me on this "Church and the Web" vocational journey.  I had completed all the steps save the final project back in the Spring of 1997,  just prior to my moving to Nashville to work fulltime.  I regret having abandoned that program,  but I was consumed in rapidly acquiring every Web development skill I could in order to "keep up" and stay abreast of needed Web development skills.  Perhaps it's not a dead issue.  Many of those original convictions expressed in those papers written between 1993 and 1997 are still valid, but in need of update as new Web technologies have come and gone.  The options for providing community tools and "places" as a ministry of the Church,  have grown dramatically.  Would there be a DMin program that could help me complete or "re-engage" with those directions?   (The papers I had thus far submitted can be seen here)

Webs are worth investment of Communication Staff Time

Tue, 11 Feb 2003 15:21:34 GMT

Another in a plethora of good tips and insights from an article written almost 3 years ago, "Creating a Congregational Web Site"

Congregations choosing to develop web sites should make at least the same level of human resource commitment to it that they do to the Sunday bulletin or monthly newsletter.

Creating A Congregational Web Site

Tue, 11 Feb 2003 14:00:04 GMT

In many important ways a well-managed congregational web site will gently integrate congregational communication into the everyday lives of members.

This article (from where the above quote comes) from Fuller Seminary and Thomas Walker has the kind of flavor with which I can resonate.  It emphasizes the importance of a Church's Website as a way of "telling a story" and seeking to find ways to "integrate the life of the user with the life of the Church;  or for those to whom this has already happened (and hopefully there is a few of those),  to help them extend their connections with others,  their "schedule" and their connection to News in the world which is of concern to them in their daily living out of their faith (which hopefully will cover a lot of the news in the world today -- ie the consideration and deliberations toward war,   and other concerns like those I have with the many areas of potential harm that can be inflicted by the Bush administration across the board: environment, economy, social justice,  and on and on and on.  There are people in the Churches that I have been involved with in these past 6 years who need something like these kinds of Church Webs to "keep their spirtual juices" going even when they are not "gathered together".  I feel so "drawn" to the communty of faith at moments when I long to be "present in the flesh",  and so online discussions,  email,  Web site news, Weblogs of others and writing my own,  searching for OTHERS who are writing about similar thngs and similar concerns--- all of these are precious ----or like the mastercard commerical says: Priceless. 

People of theological communities;  people of the Church,  sit up and take notice.  "Get a Clue".  Tell our story,  and start by telling yours,  and encourage others to do the same.  We can do this.  Many people have.  Let's put some investment into increasing the value of the network by bringing our faith to bear on it.  Lets "be present".  That takes more than putting our bulletins and calendars and directions to the Church,  and even our sermons on a web page. We need pictures, people,  their stories, and the chronicles of our journey with a God who calls us to penetrate at all levels of society.  Let's not be "strangers" in the culture that is cyberspace.

Yahoo unveils Web hosting services - Tech News -

Mon, 09 Dec 2002 22:30:19 GMT

Yahoo starts maketing Web tools to small businesses --- Another sign that "back-end" tool suites are on the up and up,  providing business management and e-commerce logging.  It seems that the Church is in the "small business category",  but not neccessarily in the e-commerce realm;  but rather as an organization that needs to offer its "participants"a way to plan, support,  and envision together,  and also work on "presentation" (what is shown to the public on the "external Web site").  There are certain "internal" stories we need to have access to as members (as Paul puts it "members of one another",  and therefore "in confidence" --- ie. needing "security" or "login" privileges) and there are "external stories" which are the stuff of evangelism:  ie. Who we are,  what we stand for;  what our theology compels us to do and be;  how we need YOU to fill that gap of what God is calling us to do next;  or "go to the next level" on one of our existing missions to which YOU may feel called to participate with us.   

Sat, 07 Dec 2002 17:27:00 GMT

I have strung together some articles around the
"Church of the Saviour Web" theme

"Telling the Story of a Church on the web" 
"Beyond BrochureWare for Churches" 
"A Place of Connectivity" 

A Web that Connects

Sat, 07 Dec 2002 14:32:00 GMT

"Church of the Saviour Web" is a piece I am writing which begins to explore the many pieces of an effective, engaging, and energizing Church Web which communicates how closely integrated Church can be with ALL OF LIFE. An "always on" connection to the "buzz" and to the energy of the spirit which seems to permeate the atmosphere in a place where people are about doing the work which fulfills them.

Mon, 02 Dec 2002 16:17:36 GMT

Things of and from the Church of the Saviour model have led me to renew thinking and pondering The Church of the Saviour Vision and the Weblog in "Weblogs, COS Style"

Churches as Inranet, ExtraNet, and Internet

Mon, 02 Dec 2002 14:40:47 GMT

From my article: "The Social and Spiritual Realities We Ignore"

Many times,  I would imagine,  we can discover things about people who are already "in our midst" in a physical community to which we have attached but not yet discovered our common call.  This would seem to be more likely as Churches begin to discover the value of "Intranets" (the local expression with online information,  interaction,  and storytelling and sharing) joined to ExtraNets (connected to larger bodies related to them such as denominations) joined to the THE INTERNET (a part of the human family in a deep ecumenical sense,  where missions of the Church and human welfare projects of all kinds can join people who can join forces.

WIRED to Inspiration

Mon, 02 Dec 2002 14:18:35 GMT

Some Good stuff from WIRED on Science and Theology,  like The Pope's Astrophysicist which describes a Vatican research group led by Jesuits (those often pesky free-thinkers within the authority of the Church who often seem to push the boundaries of the "confines" of theological thinking) they explore the physical boundaries of the cosmos for "clues" of divine design that pose the most interesting questions. 

The Net Culture As Mission Field

Sun, 01 Dec 2002 22:33:46 GMT

The Web needs to be treated as a "Mission Field" by Church denominations.  There need to be studies of the online culture,  training of persons in psychology, cybersociology, spirtuality online,  and all the "details" of life in the world of the online "seeker".  The amount of investment in preparation, education,  and "setting up shop" in onsite mission work devoted by denominations and Chrsitian bodies worldwide to all kinds of World and Home Missions is some testimony to the amount of effort it takes to get into somebody's shoes in order to "be a witness",  and has been recognized for eons by all but the most blind and arrogant of missionary forces as neccessary work.

So why then is there so appallingly little of the rapidly advancing and growing "Life Online" that is considered to be of much urgency?  I see millions entering a social reality that is increasingly being claimed by "e-commerce" efforts, with precious little Church prescence online outside of the postings of fundamentalist drive-by evangelsim (also referred to by many as "eVANDALism").  The life of the Church as a "Community of the Committed" is lost by the examples of online spirituality that seem to forget that the Net began and grew into a dominion worthy of the attention of the corporations of commerce as a tangle of interconnected communities of interaction.


Is Your Church A Peace Church?

Tue, 12 Nov 2002 01:45:20 GMT

Looking at Google Hits on Church of the Saviour Washington , DC , yielded this link

Scary Notions of a Just War

Sat, 02 Nov 2002 20:23:31 GMT

Blogs4God points to an article on just war by Martin Roth,  which for me ,  contains several disturbing elements.  Scary Just War Arguments is a story I just created which explains some of my misgivings about what Mr.Roth says inthe above link.

eChurch on Hell House Evangelism

Sat, 02 Nov 2002 18:02:21 GMT

e-church on "Hell House" evangelism.   Very good article by Tim.  This seems to me to be a "high-tech" version of the infamous Chick tracts thatI used to see during my college days.  Tim writes:

"This shock-evangelism tactic makes the same mistake I outline in The American Christian Industry. When they use secular tactics (Hollywood-style joltz), the medium overcomes the message. "

Welcome to

Tue, 01 Oct 2002 12:59:37 GMT

I saw a book,  which I had come across before but soon forgot about,  entitled Give Me That Online Religion, by Brenda Basher.  She links to several places (she has a good online bibliography,  including this one:)

Cybersociology is a non-profit multi-disciplinary webzine dedicated to the critical discussion of the internet, cyberspace, cyberculture and life online.

Tue, 01 Oct 2002 12:30:51 GMT

If anybody has seen my notice about my move to  ,  please let me know by commenting something here if you get the time.   I want to see that somebody is getting this.  And anybody who has tips on anything else I might do to notify people,  I would appreciate them.