The early booking discount for The Trinitarian Life day conference at which Mike Reeves and I runs out at the end of this week. It’s just £5 until the end of March. After that it jumps to the outrageous price of £10! Click here for more details and online booking.
Here’s a telling extract from James K. A. Smith (via Trevin Wax) on the impact of social media on teenagers. It echoes some of my own reflections in Will You Be My Facebook Friend?
I do not envy our four teenagers in the least: far from carefree, their adolescence is a tangled web of angst that is, I think, qualitatively different from that of past generations. The difference, I suggest, stems from a unique constellation of cultural habits that has exacerbated their self-consciousness to an almost-paralyzing degree.
Granted, self-consciousness is part of the rite of passage that is adolescence. The hormonal effects on teenaged bodies make them realize they are bodies in ways that surprise them. They inhabit their bodies as foreign guests, constantly imagining that all eyes are upon them as they go to sharpen their pencil or climb the stairs at a football game. Such self-consciousness has always bred its own warped ontology in which the teenager is the centre of the universe, praying both that no one will notice and that everyone would.
The advent of social media has amplified this exponentially. In the past, there would have been spaces where adolescents could escape from these games, most notably in the home. Whatever teenagers might have thought of their parents, they certainly didn’t have to put on a show for them. The home was a space to let down your guard, freed from the perpetual gaze of your peers. You could almost forget yourself. You could at least forget how gawky and pimpled and weird you were, freed from the competition that characterizes teenagedom.
No longer. The space of the home has been punctured by the intrusion of social media such that the competitive world of self-display and self-consciousness is always with us. The universe of social media is a ubiquitous panopticon.
The teenager at home does not escape the game of self-consciousness; instead, she is constantly aware of being on display – and she is regularly aware of the exhibitions of others. Her Twitter feed incessantly updates her about all of the exciting, hip things she is not doing with the “popular” girls; her Facebook pings non-stop with photos that highlight how boring her homebound existence is. And so she is compelled to constantly be “on,” to be “updating” and “checking in.” The competition for coolness never stops. She is constantly aware of herself – and thus unable to lose herself in the pleasures of solitude: burrowing into a novel, pouring herself out in a journal, playing with fanciful forms in a sketch pad. More pointedly, she loses any orientation to a project. Self-consciousness is the end of teleology…
With the expansion of social media, every space is a space of “mutual self-display.” As a result, every space is a kind of visual echo chamber. We are no longer seen doing something; we’re doing something to be seen.
From James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works (Cultural Liturgies), Baker, 145-146.
Please take a look at this video and pray for the ‘Valley Commandos’ church planting project. The vision is: “To deploy gospel warriors in every valley in South Wales to plant churches that will detonate an explosion of grace + salvation in Jesus’ name!”
The Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of Christ is out now in the UK. This is my latest book and is co-written with Jonny Woodrow, the European Director of the Porterbrook Network. It will be available in the US on 1 May and can be ordered now from amazon.com.
This is the first publication in a WEST Porterbrook imprint with Christian Focus which will focus on ‘theology for mission’.
Here’s the blurb …
Has Jesus left his church with an embarrassing problem? We claim he’s alive yet he’s nowhere to be seen. Wouldn’t it have been easier for us if he’s stayed on earth? Then we could talk with him as the disciples did during his earthly ministry and he could tour the world proving his claims. Does the ascension mean he’s now distant from us? This book shows how Jesus secures our salvation as our ascended Priest. Humanity is now in the presence of God. As our King, Jesus directs our mission from the throne of the universe. The ascension offers a message of great assurance and great challenge.
And here are some endorsements …
“Sceptics, young believers and longstanding Christians alike will be intrigued and challenged in turn as they come to realise the immense – and immensely practical – consequences of the Ascension. Glorious and unexpected truths are here constantly laid bare for our wonder and our joy.”
Jonathan Stephen, Principal Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST)
“The writers show us the Bible’s answers to these questions and many more. If you have ever wondered why the ascension is critical to being a disciple of Jesus or why it wasn’t just a bad strategy by God that removed the main evidence for Christianity, you will find plenty of help here.”
Marcus Honeysett, Director of Living Leadership and author of Finding Joy, Kent, England.
“Chester and Woodrow have given us a gift that will lift our eyes from this temporal horizon to the steppes of eternal joys of our High Priest in heaven.”
Eric C. Raymond ~ Executive Pastoral Assistant and Bible Professor in Residence New Canaan Baptist Church, Washington, DC Council Member, The Gospel Coalition.
“With the publication of Chester and Woodrow’s The Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of God, I’m grateful to be able to point others to an accessible and inspiring study of this central Christian doctrine. In reading this book, Christians will find their minds sharpened and hearts warmed. Delightfully, the book ends with an Ascension hymn. Theology leads to doxology.”
Robert L. Plummer – Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.
Tim Challies has posted an interesting article on the current fashion for books with ‘gospel-centred’ in the title. He welcomes the trend, but also warns that its popularity may lead to a certain weariness or a superficial use for marketing purposes. He then lists a host of books with the term in the title, including most of the titles in the Gospel-Centred Series we’ve published with The Good Book Company (though he misses Gospel-Centred Family). It’s a good point well made. We said something similar in the conclusion to Total Church. We wrote:
There is a lot of talk today of ‘gospel ministers’, ‘gospel work’, ‘gospel churches’ and so on. There are some good reasons for this use of the word ‘gospel’ since other definitions of identity are proving inadequate. But we need to be careful not to de-personalize our faith. In believing in the gospel we believe in Jesus Christ. To be gospel-centred is to be Jesus-centred. A gospel worker is a servant of Jesus Christ. We must not reduce Christianity to intellectual arguments or principles of ministry, however gospel-hyphenated they are. Our focus must be on the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
In our defence, as far as I can tell our first book, Gospel-Centred Church, predates the others in Challies’ list – though Amazon lists the publication date of the US edition (2007) which was five years after the UK publication date (2002) so something similar may be true of other titles in the list.
Here are the titles in our Gospel-Centred series:
Gospel-Centred Work is out in May.
Covenant Eyes have just released an alarming collection of porn statistics. If you don’t think porn is a significant problem, both in the wider culture and in the church, then please take time to look at these figures. Here’s a sample
- 340,000,000 plus searches for porn since the beginning of 2013
- 88 percent of scenes in porn movies contain acts of physical aggression
- 1 in 2 pastors say porn is strong temptation, but only 1 in 4 make themselves accountable for their internet use
- 1 in 2 Christian men and 1 in 5 Christian women admit to being addicted to porn
- 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls have been exposed to online porn before the age of 18
- 7 out of 10 teenagers hide their online activity from their parents
- 2 out of 3 young men and 1 in 2 young women say viewing porn is an acceptable way to express one’s sexuality
The most shocking figures in my mind were the following: 15% of boys have seen child pornography online, 32% have seen bestiality, 39% have seen sexual bondage, 83% of have seen group sex and 69% have seen same-sex intercourse and the figures for girls are not far behind. This is the sex education our children are receiving.