Social Media, Social Issues, and the Importance of Rhetoric

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Social media is here to stay! However, I think most of us have forgotten how new it is to our culture. Social media primarily post-dates 9-11. Facebook was founded in 2004 making it barely a teenager of 14! Twitter is twelve years old. Instagram is 8 years old. And blogging has only been “a thing” for about a decade. Even the (affordable) cell phone is a new concept. We didn’t even own one 23 years ago when our son was born. [Ugh. I’m so old]

In less than 20 years, social media has become the new kitchen table, front porch, and town hall meeting. We use it to share photos of our children and grandchildren. We use it to share jokes and cat videos. And we use it to share thoughts, ideas, and rhetoric. These are the same things we shared together around the kitchen table, front porch, and town hall meetings. We talked about the weather, Aunt Mary’s broken leg, AND the issues of the day.

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In the last ten years, people seem amazed that social media is a platform for “the issues of the day”. AKA rhetoric. Rhetoric is the “art of effective or persuasive speech or writing”. And it is more than 4000 years old. Think Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.┬áToday, we think of rhetoric as a way to obscure the truth. However, the original intention of the art form was to discover Truth. And some of the greatest thinkers of history were first rhetorics. St. Augustine. Thomas Aquinas. Martin Luther. Jesus.

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Many of us have a love/hate relationship with social media. I can do Instagram and Pinterest with no problem. I struggle with Facebook. And Twitter makes me want to drink which is why I had to get off the Twitter bus! But I still see it’s value.

Social media allows us to share warm fuzzies. But it also allows us to deal with others who don’t think like us. It brings the social issues of the day to our front door, front page, and social news feed.

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One of the recurring posts I see on social media reads something like this…

No one ever changed anyone’s mind with a [Facebook/Twitter/Etc] post.

I have hesitated to respond to this in the past. Until today. What if we rephrased that sentence in a different context? What if we said something along this line…

No one ever changed anyone’s mind…

…by nailing 95 theses to the church door. [Martin Luther]

…by refusing to give up their seat on the bus. [Rosa Parks]

…by standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and declaring they have a dream. [MLK}

…by writing more than 2000 letters to clergy, laity, and parliament about the issues of the day. [John Wesley]

…by petitioning parliament every year about the abolition of slavery. [William Wilberforce]

…by setting up a tent and preaching the Gospel to anyone walking by. [Billy Graham]

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And preachers seem to be the loudest critics of social media rhetoric (insert head tilt and look of confusion). Why can’t you just keep it focused on Jesus? Why do you have to bring up controversial issues?

We’ve read the Gospels, right? As preachers, everything about what we do is controversial. The Gospel is controversial. But, here in the States, we have forgotten how controversial it is to preach the Good News of Jesus. And it’s one of the reasons I am a fan of social media. It keeps it in our face. It reminds us that we have a responsibility to speak to the issues of the day.

Can we even call ourselves faithful ministers of the Gospel if we fail to address the issues of the day? Think about Jesus saying to His disciples, “Guys, guys! Let’s just focus on me. Forget about the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the broken. I came all the way from heaven so that you could feel good about yourself and think happy thoughts.”

And share cat videos.

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There’s a world out there (even on social media) waiting for us to speak into the issues of the day. They want someone to lead the charge in helping them discover the truth. And social media has given us permission to step onto their porch and sit at the kitchen table.

Speak and listen. People really do want more than cat videos.

 

 

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Mutiny Week 7: Stress

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You did it! I’m so proud of you! We are ready to enter week 7. And, this week, we are fasting from STRESS. No, not desserts. Stress. The madness of the world. We are going to shift our focus and resist the chaos of it all.

Seven Pauses

It’s going to be a week of seven pauses a day. Seven times we stop and…breathe. Listen. Rest. Pause.

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We are taking a page from the ancients who have gone before us. The seventh day was designed to be a day of rest. It is a day when we stop and recognize that we were created to simply be.

How is your life right now? Are you running on empty? When you have downtime, do you worry that you have forgotten something? Do you have multiple calendars to coordinate your family, friends, work, life?

In the fast from stress, we are going to introduce 7 prayer pauses to our schedule each day. It might mean that something else needs to wait on God. Rather than God waiting for us to stop and listen.

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Here are the seven pauses we are going to recognize each day. I recommend you set seven alarms on your phone.

The Night Watch (midnight): “I am awake through each watch of the night to meditate on your promise.” Psalm 119:148

The Awakening Hour (dawn): “Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14

The Blessing Hour (mid-morning): “Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands – establish the work of our hands!” Psalm 90:17

The Hour of Illumination (noon): “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.” Matt. 5:13-14

The Wisdom Hour (mid-afternoon): “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” Phil 1:21

The Twilight Hour (dusk): “He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Silence! Be still!’ The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39

The Great Silence (bedtime): “The Lord will send his faithful love by day; his song will be with me in the night – a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8

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Option One: Recognize the seven pauses. They can be long or short. Read one piece of scripture. Pray for one person. Ask for forgiveness. It is simply a time to stop and lift up our eyes to the Lord.

Option Two: Use this week to set aside time and evaluate your schedule. Where are you overextended?

Option Three: Use this week to identify 7 stressors in your life. List one way you could minimize each stressor. Work on one per day.

Option Four: Get up an hour early and spend that time in prayer and reflection. You could even walk through each of the pauses/categories.

Ready? Happy de-stress week, friends! See you in the wrap-up.

 

Mutiny Week 6: Spending

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It’s Mutiny week 6! Can you believe it? You made it this far. I know you can do it.

For some of us, this will be a tough week. We are going to take a hard look at our spending habits. Ugh. Do we know where our money goes? Can you say IRS? Big Box? Starbucks?

In the last week, I spent money at Costco, Kroger, Westborn Market, Mane Connection (hair), Aldi’s, Donut Town (yum), 2 gas stations, and Amazon. I also did payroll via Quickbooks. I’m sure our employees were happy about that one!

I’m not sure how many vendors my husband frequented. However, I know he made business purchases at Menards, Home Depot, and Lowes. And I’m sure there was at least one stop at a gas station.

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Money does not grow on trees!

As my dad always said, “money does not grow on trees!”

Sometimes we think we don’t have enough money. Sometimes we actually do have enough, but we are spending it inefficiently. A huge chunk of the world lives on $1 a day. That would qualify as “not enough money”.

This week, let’s look at how we spend, where we spend, and what we spend our money on. Also, let’s reflect on how much we spend on ourselves. Do we give generously? Do we keep God’s command of tithing, giving, caring for others?

Here are your challenge options:

Option One: restrict your spending to 7 vendors. A vendor is one place, not one category. For example, Kroger is a vendor. A grocery store is a category.

You could choose these 7 vendors: Kroger, BP gas station, Costco, Amazon, Online bill pay, Panera, Doctor. (create your own list)

Charities do not count as spending. Charities are in the giving category because it is not money spent on ourselves.

Option Two: eliminate 7 well-trafficked vendors

Option Three: eliminate 7 categories and only spend what is needed. No extras at the grocery store. No quick run through McDonald’s. And you do not need those gel pens (I’m talking to me mostly).

Option Four: choose 7 local places to shop this week instead of your usual places. It’s sort of an extension of last week. For example, instead of Tim Hortons, stop at your family owned donut shop (yum). Buy your fruit from the locally owned fruit market or farmer’s market. Check out that consignment shop instead of Target. Purchase your yard needs at a local greenhouse instead of Home Depot. You get the idea.

Alright friends, we can do this! We can change our spending habits for the better. We can be better stewards of what God has blessed upon us. Happy non-spending week!

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