Monday, August 31, 2009

But, he can't be a man 'cause...

I have been mulling over this graph for a wee while now... with this thought running through my head:
Not everyone has an iPhone!
iPhones are very popular... there is no getting over that, I have TWO for goodness sake! According to Flickr, they are the camera phone of now... even though the camera is not the best... rocking 2 megapixels and no flash on the 1st gen & 3g... and a 3 megapixel on the 3GS.

Thing is... there are better camera phones out there: The LG Pixon has a TWELVE megapixel camera... compare this with my Nikon d60 dSLR which has 10.something mp and you'll get a sense of my astonishment at this fact - a phone that has more mp than my dSLR.

At this point you could argue about lenses and all that... that's not the point... its just crazy to think there is a phone out there that is rocking double figures in the mp department... one that is FREE on a £40 per month call plan.

Where am I going with this post, I hear you ask. Well... that's a good question and its got nothing really to do with tech and more to do with faith.

I've been considering the concept of singularity_ the idea that thats its "my way... or the highway". I see it all the time... this subtle fascism. I see it in politics... I see it in faith... I see it in the way we generalise and label people.

I think there is a lyric in the Rolling Stones song "satisfaction" that goes...
When I'm watchin' my TV
And a man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
The same cigarettes as me
I don't know the context of the lyric but I think the fact I don't smoke highlights the absurdity of such a statement... but it is, regardless whether Mick was singing it literally or ironically, a singular statement.

Let's paraphrase this lyric...
When I'm watchin' my TV
And a man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't use
The same iPhone as me
Silly... why? because not everyone has an iPhone!

So why is it that we have a singular approach to other elements of our life?
  • Politics not as liberal as mine... you are not a man!
  • Politics not as conservative as mine... you are not a man!
  • You don't listen to (insert band name)... you are not a man!
We judge / put down / dismiss people because they are different from us... and, to be honest, its nonsense. I think about all the grief Obama is getting from being "a socialist"... OMGoodness... some people do not have a clue.

Think about it in terms of faith. Instead of following Jesus' assertion that we should love God and love our neighbour... in terms of those we share our faith with... we become judgemental and all singular.
  • You don't believe in the doctrinal creed I believe... you are not a Christian!
  • You don't express your faith the way I do... you are not a Christian!
  • You don't worship the way I do... you are not a Christian!
  • You go to places I don't... you are not a Christian!
  • You hang out with people I don't... you are not a Christian!
It just disturbs me when people get like this. I follow a disparate group of folks on Twitter who use the outlaw preachers hashtag. I find their focus on grace and God's love to be powerful & inspirational.

Thing is... not everyone does. Fairplay... I'm not going to tell you what to believe... but I do think if you don't get what they are saying... you should express this in a loving and gracious manner. Instead, the folk who don't get the outlaw preachers try to beat them down with a form of singularity that I mentioned above. It breaks my heart, to be honest.

Before I go on... I need to stress that there are things that form the foundation of our belief_ Jesus as the Saviour of mankind, for example.
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same.
Ephesians 4: 4-7 (The Message)

How we express our faith_ how we look... how we speak... how we act... should not be a singular thing. We shouldn't expect everyone to look, speak and act as we do.

Two books that have meant a lot to me of late is a generous orthodoxy by Brian McLarenand sacred pathways by Garry Thomas. Both books attack, in their own way, this idea of singularity.

They demonstrate the value in our diversity... in our plurality... in our community. They highlight the fact that we see things differently... interpret things differently... place emphasis on different things.

One of the things I love about the "emerging" conversation is the fact it IS a conversation. There is no assumption as to a singularity of expression. People need to talk... discuss... engage... with each other to understand points of commonality... and even when there are points of disagreement... they are discussed in a loving manner. In a manner that demonstrates the fact we are His disciples.

Its the key benefit of the Tower of Babel... the fact that we need to engage... discuss... find commonality. Stewart and I have discussed this over coffee. We can't take anything for granted... there is no singularity of thought even though we are walking together, going in similar directions.

Singularity of thought is destructive... in its laziness, arrogance and presumption. We need more discussion and relational engagement... more graciousness & gentle kindness.

The future is plural... and for the followers of God in the way of Jesus to have an influence in this future... we need to learn this.

Not everyone has an iPhone!


Angus Mathie said...

I think it is important to raise issues like this and to advocate listening with kindness and generosity. There seems, however, to be a very powerful trait in human behaviour expressed in forms of tribalism. When did we last hear a politican speak well of a member of another party or a Rangers supporter applaud a Celtic goal, for example? Christians, unfortunately, seem no different. We should not be afraid to say that we agree or disagree but to do it in a spirit of grace and humility.

Tribalism, conformity, belonging, etc., are powerful forces for love, kindness and generosity to overcome.

weareallghosts said...

Thanks for your contribution dad.


Ben Thorp said...

Interesting post. (Sorry - I'm late to this conversation - came here from a link on your front page ;) )

For the most part I agree with what you're saying (I _don't_ have an iPhone ;) ). However, we do also need to find balance. Outlaw Preachers on their website have a quote from Elie Wiesel: "Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." (

I thoroughly approve of rigorous theological debate, and having an open conversation. However, I think that this needs to be done within a framework. One of the dangers I see in much of the emerging movement is an unwillingness to ever place a line in the sand, to ever provide actual answers to the questions that are there. You hint at this in your post, but many of the emerging proponents would even allow questions on whether or not Jesus _is_ the saviour of mankind (for instance). Doug Pagitt and Brian Maclaren (by way of 2 examples) have both crossed the line at times (IMHO) when it comes to the foundations of the faith.

Anyway - that's enough for a long comment on an old post. Enjoy the snow ;)


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