Friday, February 29, 2008

Plodding Into the Future

These days, while I’m trying to spent my private Lenten time focusing on ancient disciplines (like chanting, meditation, and lectio divina), much of my work time is spent trying to pull the institutions I work with into the 21st century to join the rest of us there. Churches, denominational bodies, and educational institutions seem so slow to embrace any sort of change, much less to engage actively and passionately with it. Denominationally, I serve on a committee that’s supposed to be envisioning what the church of the future might be doing and how it might be involved in the world, but instead, we’ve spent much of our time designing and then getting committees to buy into mission and value statements. Congregationally I want to find a way to use online connectivity to deepen our common life, but so far people are using it as yet one more means of doing business. And in teaching I’d like to use virtual worlds to give us new ways to build intellectual communities that go beyond the limits that geography imposes but the people I share the idea with just want to tiptoe their way into such possibilities, which meanwhile race ahead out of their reach.

I’m keeping at it. Yesterday I wanted to resign from the denominational committee, but instead lifted up some possibilities for the next church year. At the college, I’m going to be doing two workshops—one for the Faculty Seminar day and one for the Online Seminar Evening—on different aspects of virtual communities. And at South I got our group together last Tuesday to talk about how to use things like online blackboards to increase sharing and build relationships on non-church-related topics, with that kicking off this Sunday.

So we’re off like a herd of turtles and it’s plodding and frustrating!

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