“Theology after Google” was billed as a conversation about leveraging new technologies and networks for transformative ministry, and that’s what it delivered. I have to say the first few hours were disorienting and, frankly, a little chaotic. To some, the chaos betrayed a lack of discipline. But I was having fun. I’ve never been enough of a cool kid to see a TED Talk or participate in a Twitter backchannel, but Theology after Google encouraged (nay, implored!) us to do those things, and it was thoroughly engaging.
Notably, a conversation with Jeff Jarvis via Skype on conference’s second morning left me fascinated. Five minutes into it, I leaned over to my friend and said, “Okay, this event just paid for itself.” I’ve been reading Jarvis for nearly five years, and this was close enough to being a face-to-face conversation that it gave me shivers.
Also, a seminary classmate who now teaches at the University of California Riverside and contributes to Religion Dispatches brought us all to our senses late in the afternoon of the second day. Dr. Jonathan Walton warned us about neglecting face-to-face relationships in our enthusiasm over virtual ones. His wife, he said, has no problem slamming shut his laptop and instructing him to “Tell your 800 Facebook friends that you need to talk to your one wife.” Listening to his talk gave me a surge of pride, as I repeated to anyone who would listen: “I played flag football with that guy!”
I had plenty of critiques of things that were said, and I’m not ready to give Google and Facebook a churchy hi-five quite yet. But neither are lots of people who participated in this event. It’s a conversation–one that I’m happy to be part of.