Last night was the first night of the Theology After Google conference, and I really enjoyed it. It got me thinking about a few things, so like a good blogger, I have to share them with the world, assuming everyone will read them. :)
The conversations my friend and I had after during the TheoPub was focused on social media. Yes, the conference is about the use of social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc.), but I don't really think that's the main point. As the speakers said last night, "Google" is really a metaphor for what is changing in the world (primarily America) and theology. In short, the technology revolution and easy accessibility of information, which also allows everyone to contribute to information, is leading to a new democratization of theology. The parallel is the advent of the Gutenberg press and Bible, which paved the way for the first democratization of theology, namely everyone being able to read the Bible.
Social media definitely helps get the information out. That's the way I use it, I realized last night. Social media and technology are more about information and content than really connecting with people. I use the "social" tools, but I realized last night that social media connection feels to me more like a superficial connection. It makes me feel connected, but when I really think about it, I'm not really connected with the others. This may be idiosyncratic to me and part of my introversion, so I'll own some of that, too.
Ultimately, though, I think we need to remember social media is a tool and medium, not the end goal.
As some criticisms (the organizers asked for feedback), I really didn't hear anything new last night. It may have been new to some people, but... That's not necessarily a bad thing. It really was laying the groundwork of the philosophical underpinnings of what will likely be discussed over the next two days.
Additionally, we were encouraged to stay connected online and multitask. I appreciated that, so I tried. However, I found it quite difficult to pay attention to the speaker, read tweets, and tweet myself. I think today I may check tweets and tweet responses occasionally, but focus more on being present in the moment. To me, that's more powerful and something that can be lost in an age of technology and social media (and believe me, I LOVE technology, including my new Android phone :) ).
Finally, my friend and I were both realizing last night that there had not been any prayer. This is a group of Christians. Are we afraid of opening a theology conference in prayer? Or closing it? He also commented that it would be nice to have some musical worship. I have to agree.
Prayer and worship (and yes, discussing theology can be worship) would help us maintain our focus and remind ourselves that this is not all about us, but about God and connecting to God. I realized last night, that night one actually felt more like a celebration of ourselves (i.e. the Academy Awards) than really attempting to worship and connect with God...
It may also be indicative of the fact that most of the organizers come from a more "progressive" background. This just emphasizes what I've observed about mainliners being more cognitive while evangelicals are more affective. Why can't we have both?!