(adapted from an ‘About the Author’ section of a little book I made for a class project in elementary school):
“John graduated from Veteran’s Memorial Elementary School, he loves Nintendo, baseball cards, and spaghetti.”
I’m John. I live in Scotland with my wife Tara and my newborn son Liam. We’re gearing up for a move back to Boston at the end of May 2013 after living in St. Andrews for about 3 years, and we are really excited to jump into this new season of life as a family…and to eat at Kelly’s Roast Beef on Revere Beach and Christopher’s Restaurant in Somerville, MA again. It’s been far too long and my stomach is a’growlin. I’m currently a final year Ph.D Candidate in New Testament at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland where I have also had the privilege of lecturing New Testament Greek for the past three academic years. Additionally, I am the lecturer for the annual intensive online course ‘New Testament Greek Online’ with the Erasmus Academy NYC. In the Fall of 2013, I am excited to teach my first course, “The Life of Jesus” as an Adjunct Professor of New Testament at the Boston Campus of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Prior to our move to Scotland, I was a seminarian Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div) and a full-time musician, teaching and writing original music, and leading worship at churches. I’m currently an aspirant toward Holy Orders in the Anglican Diocese of New England, a member diocese of the Anglican Church in North America, which is a province-in-formation in the worldwide Anglican Communion, and a member of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. Before moving to Scotland I was Young, Reformed, and Restless, and now, after living with my wife Tara for three years in a small town of the Fife Coast of Scotland with no car, I am 31, More broadly Reformational, and Very Well Rested…and I still love Nintendo, baseball cards, and spaghetti. I blog at www.truthstatic.com.
Paper Title and Session: “Discerning, Disarming, and Redeeming the Digital Powers — Gospel Community, The Virtual Self, and the Html of Cruciform Love” on Saturday May 18th @ 8:00pm-8:50pm BST (3pm EDT, 2pm CDT, 12pm PDT).
In this essay I aim to accomplish three sequential and related goals, namely: (1) to demonstrate a Pauline moral vision, (2) to investigate various virtual entities, mainly Christian blogs, to determine whether or not they correspond to this Pauline moral vision, and (3) to contextualize Paul’s moral vision as a paradigm for Christian virtual interaction in the present day.
First, in concert and in conversation with the work of Michael Gorman and Richard Hays on Paul’s Cross-shaped (Cruciform) narrative world, I will provide an exegetical Pauline theo-ethic of the Epistle to the Colossians through which I will show that central to Paul’s vision of Christian moral formation is a necessarily communal participation and incorporation into the community of Christ, in which, through both the enactment and reception of divine Cruciform love, the community and the individuals are inseparably renewed in knowledge of the God who is love.
Second, having thus established this paradigm of Pauline moral formation through communal Cruciformity, I will then, using Vernon Robbins’ socio-rhetorical categories of Social/Cultural texture, and Ideological Texture, examine several popular Christian blogs to determine the governing Cultural and Ideological textures which comprise the center of the ethos of these virtual entities. A comparison will be made with the Pauline model of Cruciformity, to determine if the influence of these blogs is in conformity with the Pauline vision of moral Cruciformity and thus contributing to the growth of the Church, or if, on the other hand, these institutions are acting as hostile Powers, exerting harmful and community-destroying influences on the Church. Here I will apply Walter Wink’s phenomenological reading of the Powers* to my findings, which focuses on both the inner ‘ethos’ or ‘spirit’ of institutions and the outer manifestation (Churches, Corporations, etc) of world Powers. In so doing, I will be attempting to further advance Wink’s program to include the digital and virtual realm, by discerning the digital Powers through blogs.
Thirdly and in conclusion, I will offer a modern application of the aforementioned Pauline exegetical ethic of communal Cruciformity as a narrative hermeneutical paradigm for Christian blogging, and as the means by which the Church as a community and as individuals can, not only discern, but also disarm, serve, and redeem the digital Powers through the html of Cruciform love.
*“Every Power tends to have a visible pole, an outer form—be it a church, a nation, or an economy—and an invisible pole, an inner spirit or driving force that animates, legitimates, and regulates its physical manifestations in the world…When a particular Power becomes idolatrous, placing itself above God’s purposes for the good of the whole, then that Power becomes demonic. The church’s task is to unmask this idolatry and recall the Powers to their created purposes in the world…” — Walter Wink, Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984; p. 5.