Saturday, February 16, 2008

Blogging is the new "devotions?"

Remeber that term "devotions?"
"Did you do your devotions today?"
"I need to spend 15 minutes a day in my devotions."

What did that even mean?

I can only presume that the language of "devotions" was used as the idea of being devoted to God. So did that mean that only 15 minutes a day was devoted to God? I have always preferred the idea of the disciplines. Reading, solitude, writing, and prayer are all fundamental elements of the Christian life. I maintain a personal journal that I do not publish here but have also found that blogging has become a source of fulfillment as a discipline. We are able to read the thoughts and lives of fellow sojourners and learn and grow from one another. When I ensure that I have time to post and read others' posts I feel more creative and imaginitive as a hopeful follower of Jesus.

17 comments:

John said...

I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with the language of "devotions". It seems like an appropriate enough word to describe the disciplines of prayer and scripture meditation. The problem isn't the word but our consistent reduction of the discipline and its subsequent commercialization. It's like the 6 minute abs which become the 4 minute abs and so on. We reduce it to conform to our lives instead of conforming our lives through the discipline (some people also make a good deal of money from devotional book sales).

Words matter. Sometimes, when a word is sufficiently tainted, we have to give it up for a time in order to reestablish it's meaning. That doesn't mean that the word was bad or it's given meaning was wrong to begin with. I prefer to redeem the word when possible. Words like church, christian, evangelism, gospel, holiness, worship service, etc. have deep connotations. Some of these words have come to mean less than their original intent do to misuse and refinement (reductions) of the definitions. That doesn't mean we give them up. We just need to have conversations to explain what we mean by them.

By the way, reading and writing are probably not fundamental elements of the Christian life. You just left out a large group of people that have neither the skills nor the money to do either. No matter how much we simplify (or want to), it is difficult to break down the biases of our given economic class! Most of us don't even know we have them...

As for the blogging, it can be a fascinating exercise in community and confession. I'm still not sure what I think about it. It certainly is a convenient way to stay in touch with distant friends. Peace...

:::: Travis Keller :::: said...

without reading and writing what would you know about redeeming words like church, christian, evangelism, holiness, worship service, etc.? you just contradicted yourself.

Matt Frye said...

what's interesting is that we just had our sunday school lesson (i hate sunday school by the way) this morning on devotions. and like a good youth pastor i didn't really read over the sunday school lesson before hand so i was just kind of winging it as we read the scriptures and what not. well anyway, as we were progressing along the lesson, i noticed that i strongly disagreed with what we were reading (the lesson, not the bible). so i began to make this lesson my own and start asking questions about language we use in the church as christians and what not. it's interesting to hear what teens have to say about devotions today, because when i was a teen i didn't use the same language and definitely didn't have the same mindset as them. so anyways, to wrap this up, devotion is what god desires from us. he's not a god who sits in the clouds hoping that we do do do these list of things so we can proudly wear our christian "badge". but instead it's a life of devotion in every day life decisions. i'm not saying anything new here, i just thought it was interesting that we just had this conversation this morning.

John said...

No, I don't think you understand what I was saying. I didn't say that reading and writing are irrelevant to the christian life for those who can do such things. I said they are not fundamental elements of christianity. Christianity is supposed to be good news to the world with special attention given to the poor. For a large portion of the Earth's population (the portion you left out), the good news is radically lived out without the benefit of reading and writing. In other words, you can be illiterate (or "unlettered" as Wendell Berry would say) and still practice the fundamental elements of the christian life.

On the other hand, if you are going to read and write, then you should practice redemption in that area as well. Redeeming words is more about relationship than it is about word smithing. It is about dialogue. That is one of the reasons this generation rejects their parents model of the life of faith. Our parents generation closed the book on conversation and created an overarching monologue. It doesn't matter who you are or what you have to say, we have a monologue that you must hear. Your story is irrelevant, our story trumps it.

For me, the redemption of words like holiness and evangelism is imperative because they are words that are important to the Good News. They are important to the conversation. In such a conversation, the ability to "read" only one kind of Word is truly fundamental. The fact that folks can't read or write makes it all the more important that the Church takes seriously our responsibility to be salt and light.

People who live in poverty often know quite a bit about redeeming words that they are unable to read or write. That's not a contradiction unless you're white, American, middle class, well educated, or in your 20's which you've made plain that you're not! :-)

Peace...

:::: Travis Keller :::: said...

john,
you're right. i didn't understand what you are saying. and if i am now understanding what you are saying i still do not agree. you are making your argument from the standpoint of one who does read and write and does not live in poverty. the only reason you can write your post on redemptive language is because you can read and write (well, at least i think you can read). :) one does not have to be able to read and write to experience the love of jesus or to express the same. the concept of the goodness of reading and writing as fundamental elements of our faith is not exclusive. others (who you say as those in poverty) experience the love of Jesus through those who love because they could read and write. that does not mean that reading and writing are exclusively the only communication methods that are fundamental elements of faith. art. speech. song. dance. any expression is fundamental to our faith. we cannot disclude reading and writing from being among those fundamental elements simply because everyone can't read.

i can't paint. and if i were blind i couldn't see a painting. but my life is still going to be affected by those who can see and by those who can paint because vision and painting have been fundamental elemtents of his/her faith in order that he/she may express to me in some fashion the love of jesus.

the post was also not monologue. this should be especially clear as you are an active participant in the current and continual dialogue that is occurring.

:::: Travis Keller :::: said...

i reread my post above and realized that in the quickness of my writing i was not very clear. it may be quite confusing. maybe i'm illiterate after all.

John said...

Wow, sorry man. You basically just called me a hypocrite (which I'm sure is true in several areas of my life). I must be completely missing the mark here in terms of communicating my intent. My bad. I certainly wasn't attacking you or at least that wasn't my intention. The comments about monologue were not directed at you at all, which shows me that I didn't communicate them well. Maybe we'll do lunch sometime and chat! Also, sorry for getting the post of the original topic. Peace...

:::: Travis Keller :::: said...

john,
apology? i don't why you should be sorry for anything. in my mind it is all dialogue. i'm also not understanding anything along the lines of you being a hypocrite.

Tyler DeLong said...

I think when we focus on seperating time in our life for "devotions" we can miss the point of Christian disciple. It an be seen as very dualistic, depending on the language usage.
Isn't life meant to be fully focused on and devoted to God?
I think there are many connotations that come with the word "devotions", some possitive, some negative.
I know that I have grown spiritually and intellectually through involvement with blogging.

Joe said...

this is really funny to me

John said...

No worries on my part dude. Your last post just seemed a bit emotional and I didn't want poor communication on my part to be offensive. You know I don't mind being offensive, just not due to poor communication! :-) Plus, I certainly don't discount the place of a humble apology as a characteristic of good conversation. The limitations of the blog as a medium for good conversation is one of the reasons I've not embraced it further. It is easy to mistake a point as something it is not when you can't see someone's face and hear the inflection in their voice.

As to the points being made, I'd love to chat with you sometime soon. I'll come up to Mt. Vernon. Peace...

:::: Travis Keller :::: said...

on this we are in full agreement:
"It is easy to mistake a point as something it is not when you can't see someone's face and hear the inflection in their voice. "
especially for me. at times i may appear emotional or offensive in my writing when i am actually a quite gentle (usually) person. c'mon, jb, you know me. god of wonders? (inside joke for all other readers.)

John said...

You can never tell what almost two years as the Oakwood RD will do to a person!

Joe said...

sex tonight

Justin said...

I like like how you pointed out the communal aspects of blogging.

It's a pretty stark contrast really- devotions and blogging. Devotions are essentially one person's (maybe two if you're using a handy "devotional" book!)thoughts. However, what I love about blogging is that I can post an issue or scripture that I'm struggling with or thinking about and get 1-1000 other people's thoughts on it. Blogging helps remind me that I don't know everything- I don't have it all nailed down.

Daniel Coutz said...

I don't think its wrong to set apart a specific period of time in our day and devote it to prayer and study and label this devotions. When it becomes wrong is when we think we've gotten our spiritual "fix" for the day and then turn that area of our lives off.

Tyler DeLong said...

I agree with you dan boy...thats what i was trying to get at...

Matthew 5:38-48, NASB

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone want to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only you brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."