Tag Archives: Twitter

Is Tweeting Now a Felony?

Say you want a revolution.
We better get on right away.
Well you get on your feet
And out on the street.
– John Lennon
“Power to the People”

The ominous rise of the surveillance state continues unabated. With each passing day, hope fades that the Obama administration will diverge from George W. Bush’s erection of a police state.

The government’s treatment of Elliot Madison is a case in point. Madison, a 41-year-old self-styled anarchist and social worker, was arrested on September 24, 2009, and charged with violating a federal anti-rioting law. Madison allegedly listened to a police scanner (which, according to the New York Times, is legal) and blogged about it on Twitter to help fellow protesters avoid law enforcement at the G-20 summit taking place in Pittsburgh that same month. (Ironically, just months earlier, the U.S. government called Twitter a boon to democracy after Iranian protesters used it to organize anti-government rallies.)

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Why I Tweet | by John Piper

I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others.

One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.

The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.

Together with the team at Desiring God, I lean toward response #2. “Lean” is different from “leap.” We are aware that the medium tends to shape the message. This has been true, more or less, with every new medium that has come along—speech, drawing, handwriting, print, books, magazines, newspapers, tracts, 16mm home movies, flannel-graph, Cinerama, movies, Gospel Blimps, TV, radio, cassette tapes, 8-Tracks, blackboards, whiteboards, overhead projection, PowerPoint, skits, drama, banners, CDs, MP3s, sky-writing, video, texting, blogging, tweeting, Mina-Bird-training, etc.

Dangers, dangers everywhere. Yes. But it seems to us that aggressive efforts to saturate a media with the supremacy of God, the truth of Scripture, the glory of Christ, the joy of the gospel, the insanity of sin, and the radical nature of Christian living is a good choice for some Christians. Not all. Everyone should abstain from some of these media. For example, we don’t have a television.

That’s my general disposition toward media.

Now what about Twitter? I find Twitter to be a kind of taunt: “Okay, truth-lover, see what you can do with 140 characters! You say your mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things! Well, this is one of those ‘all things.’ Can you magnify Christ with this thimble-full of letters?”

To which I respond:

The sovereign Lord of the earth and sky
Puts camels through a needle’s eye.
And if his wisdom see it mete,
He will put worlds inside a tweet.

So I am not inclined to tweet that at 10AM the cat pulled the curtains down. But it might remind me that the Lion of Judah will roll up the heavens like a garment, and blow out the sun like a candle, because he just turned the light on. That tweet might distract someone from pornography and make them look up.

I’ve been tweeting anonymously for a month mainly to test its spiritual and family effects on me. In spite of all the dangers, it seems like a risk worth taking. “All things were created through Christ and for Christ” (Colossians 1:16). The world does not know it, but that is why Twitter exists and that’s why I Tweet.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. | www.desiringGod.org

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All Roads Lead to Twitter

Is the Holy Spirit at work on twitter? According to a recent Time magazine article, it might be.

Time recently highlighted a congregation in Michigan that has hosted about a dozen “Twitter Sundays”, complete with increased bandwidth in the church sanctuary and training sessions for those new to the medium. John Voelz, a pastor at Westwinds Community Church, developed the idea while trying to think of ways to make church “not suck.” Voelz is one of a growing number of pastors who have found ways to integrate twitter and other new technologies into their weekly worship services:

“In Seattle, Mars Hill churchgoers regularly tweet throughout the service. In New York City, Trinity Church marked Good Friday by tweeting the Passion play, detailing the stages of Jesus’ crucifixion in short bursts. At Next Level Church, outside Charlotte, N.C., it’s not only O.K. to fuse social-networking technology with prayer; it’s desirable.”

Twitter, it’s argued, strengthens community ties and offers church goers a new way to express what they are thinking and feeling during the Sunday morning service. Some tweet questions to the pastor as he preaches. Others tweet sermon notes, and still others tweet real-time comments on the service. These tweets are broadcasted via video projector in the church for all to see.

In other words, twitter allows people to begin silently “fellowshipping” with other believers before the Sunday morning coffee hour even starts.

But is this really fellowship? No, not really. That’s the problem.

The writer of Hebrews told his readers, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) He meant that literally. No matter how advanced communication methods become, there will never be an adequate substitute for face-to-face interaction, and there will never be a replacement for real-life fellowship.

We have souls, and we crave interaction with other souls, but we also have bodies. When we communicate through technology, we functionally disembody ourselves. There’s a great difference, for example, between talking to your mother on the phone and talking to her in person. When you can communicate with someone unseen without even using your voice, you separate yourself even further. Misunderstandings become more commonplace and relationship building more difficult. Instead of bringing us closer to those around us, technologies like twitter actually tend to separate us – and it’s hard to teach people about the glories of the incarnation while dis-incarnating yourself online.

Communication has always been a key part of Christianity, and the Church should certainly learn to make use of new methods. The modern Evangelical church would not exist in its current form if the printing press had never been invented, and today’s technology may become similarly useful for the Church, but not if we don’t keep our eyes open.

So should you tweet during church? No, unless perhaps you are trying to help someone far away (say, in the mission field) feel marginally included. When you are in church, you should be in church, and you risk being less than fully present if you’re busy with your iPhone. Concentrate instead on worshipping the Lord with your body and your soul – your community will thrive when all eyes are on Him.

Rachel Motte is a Christian blogger, editor, and commentator on political and cultural issues. She blogs at www.evangelicaloutpost.com.

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