Theology After Google

Circuit Rider @ Theology After Google

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to spend three days at Claremont School of Theology  at a conference called Theology After Google (where I also met with two students who are launching a Be@ts chapter at Claremont).

There is so much to tell, so many great people I talked to, supped with and grew through in just a few days.  Perhaps to give you the best “snapshot” of the event is to share just one experience and a bit of a reflection.

On day two we had the choice of a few breakout sessions through which to further explore or engage the ideas about which we’ve been in discussion. I feel I chose wisely to get up and out to attend one of the walking sessions – “One Image, One Word Spiritual Reflection” with Spencer Burke and Adam Walker-Cleaveland

We walked in to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden with cameras (some of us iPhones, some with big lens digital cameras and even one rockin’ old-school 35mm film camera) for the purpose of seeing differently, for thinking about theology with our eyes and hearts.

And as it turns out much of what I heard the three days can be boiled down to what I heard, saw, felt and understood in this walking meditation.

We began as a group and then wandered on our own in a spiritual practice of noticing. While taking pictures and taking the time to see,  to really see our hearts and minds were opened to the possiblity of realling seeing creation and one another and maybe even seeing from an unusual perspective.  Spencer reminded us that the some of the best, most interesting photography is not of pictures taken at eye level, but at an angle others have not considered.  Through the use of technology, used in community, I was able to engage others, my environment and the presence of God in a way that I could then in turn share with others.

That is what Theology After Google seems to be exploring and revealing – that how we see the world, how we are engaging the world through a Web 2.0 lens is shaping how we relate to one another, how we do church and maybe even how we understand God.  In a Google shaped world we see things from many different angles as we make community with people all over the world.  At the core - Theology After Google is NOT about the technology, but how we make use of social media to connect, share and grow as people of faith, AND how it is chaning our whole way of thinking about all of the above.

Which brings me to my one critique of an otherwise fantastic conference – with so many progressive Christians in one place talking about the whys and wherefores of social media, i was surprised that we did not really touch on the power of social media to engage social change initiatives ("on earth as it is in heaven" work). Correct me if I’m wrong, but one critical aspect of Progressive and Emergent theology is how we are in a partnership with the divine, called to be disciples in this world to seek justice for the “least of these”.  With the theological and practical understanding of the power of the technology that connects us – are we not also called to engage technology pratically as disciples AND faithfully as theologians?    What are your thoughts on this? 

Would you like to read more about Theology After Google?

You can read a good summary/review here in the LA Times

Tony Jones , one of the fantastic organizers (and a prominent voice of emergent Christianity) has a list of other blogs reflecting on the experience of gathering to talk about our work as progressive Christians in a Googley world.


Oh yeah, here are a few of the pics I took on that walk…

So me with my iPhone captured the following images – rather than put words to what I noticed I wonder what YOU notice in these pictures? Is there a larger message from this collection? In my context of Theology After Google what theological notions bubble up for you – either through the images or the process?