Nailing down the jello and other neural firings

Random thoughtsby J. Randal Matheny, editor

Newsweek magazine, once a publishing powerhouse, has announced that by next year it will cease print publication and go exclusively to an online edition. The news comes as a warning to not a few periodicals and papers. The weekly pretty much shot itself in the foot, as a liberal rag towing a party line, which helped none at all as people have increasingly turned to the Internet for fast and immediate news.

The meaning of this move for churches with a spiritual purpose is hard to read. Many saints are turning deftly to the Internet and virtual media for their work. The world is online. How to divide our attention between print and PDF, dead-tree pages and WordPress websites?

‘Twas a hop, skip, and a jump from mimeograph to cyberspace. What’s next?

• People who go to a church for its programs are looking to be served, not to serve.

• I’m writing an assigned article for a print publication on the topic, “If We Fail, What Then?” The theme of the future issue is about knowing and proclaiming the truth. My thesis, in a phrase: If we fail, we’re lost, and so is the world.

• In the wings is another assigned article for a different print publication on the dangers of mysticism in the church. This difficult-to-nail-jello tendency isn’t just creeping around the edges of the brotherhood. It has beaten down the door to invade our churches. And it started, like many innovations, in the colleges.

• You understand the nail-jello reference. Something so nebulous and foggy that it’s hard to get a hold of. Some people like that vagueness, that imprecision. Keeps them from having to defend themselves, I’d say. It’s easier to say you don’t understand it than it is to explain it, and embarrass yourself by how ridiculous it is once you put it out there in black and white. Seems to work well for the superior types who disdain the little ones in the kingdom.

• Disciples of Christ are the recipients of good news, the Good News. So they don’t wallow in gloom and doom, neither do they revel in bad news and gossip. They don’t ignore reality, but neither do they focus on what’s wrong in the world. They glory in what God did in Christ to right the world. And every time they see someone put right with the Lord, they rejoice.

That’s why I enjoy conversion stories so much. We did a feature like that, with just that title, “Conversion Stories,” on the first Forthright Press website. We told stories old and new. Then we encouraged and partnered with, a genius of a concept. Today, on, another story like that edifies me, “I Don’t Want to Be a Bench-Warming Christian.”

• Somebody sent me an email and tried to “recall” it. I have no idea what that means or if there is some spooky technology behind it, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to recall some words or undo some action? Maybe it would be similar to a television broadcast that delays a live camera by a few seconds so that unseemly words or scenes can be deleted. So you could catch that slip of the tongue or the foot before it got out there and caused its damage.

Since no recall or timed delay exists, doesn’t that mean we ought to be extra careful with our words and actions? We may be forgiven them, but we cannot cancel their consequences.

• Sorry to my Kentucky friends, but when I see UK, I think United Kingdom. The world is getting smaller, all the time. My beloved AR postal abbreviation became—and this is hard to say from Brazil—the Internet’s country code for Argentina. (We’re rivals.)

That’s a crack in the door, to ask: Are we aware, as God’s people sent to all the nations, of a larger world out there?

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