Dark (porn) secrets in modern sanctuaries

At some point before 35-year-old Jesse Ryan Loskarn hanged himself in his parents' home outside Baltimore, he wrote a painful letter soaked in shame and self-loathing in which he attempted to explain the unexplainable.The former chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) had lived a secret life, hiding memories of child abuse and his addiction to child pornography. Even as U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents used a battering ram to enter his house, it appeared that he was trying to … [Read more...]

Culture wars in the App Store, part II

At first glance, the original rules written to govern the Apple App Store seem to be simple, logical and easy to enforce.After all, who wants one of the world's most powerful corporations to circulate digital forms of hate? Consider, for example, the guidelines governing "personal attacks" and "objectionable content."The former rejects, "Any app that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harms way." This does not apply to … [Read more...]

Culture wars in the App Store (and what they mean)

In a career packed with sound bites, the late Steve Jobs offered one of his best when describing his vision for a family-friendly Apple App Store."We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone," he famously responded, in an email to a customer. "Folks who want porn can buy and [sic] Android phone."This stance was clear, but hard to apply in the flood of information and images on the World Wide Web. After all, many consumers are very easy to offend, when hot … [Read more...]

Talking to real, live ‘Nones’

Like many computer pros whose lives revolve around the Internet, Marc Yoder eventually created a weblog in which to share his views on life, technology, faith and other cultural issues that happened to cross his path.His "Marc5Solas" site -- the musings of a self-proclaimed "nobody from nowhere" -- drew a quiet hundred readers a week.Then the 42-year-old Yoder wrote his "Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church" post, based on dozens of face-to-face conversations with college students and … [Read more...]

The pope, Twitter and what comes next

As soon as Pope Benedict XVI announced he would surrender St. Peter's throne, messages stopped flowing to the 1.5 million or so readers following his newborn @Pontifex feed at Twitter.This wasn't surprising since the 85-year-old theologian -- bookish and reserved, by nature -- cited his deteriorating health and declining energy as reasons to let a new pope wrestle with a world "subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith."Twitter … [Read more...]

Churches ignoring the digital playground

GILFORD, N.H. -- Everywhere computer professional Brian Heil looked at SoulFest 2011 he saw packs of young people trying to stay on schedule as they rushed from one rock concert, workshop or prayer meeting to another.But first, there was one more text to send, one more Twitter tweet to tweet, one more Facebook status to update, one more snapshot to share, one more YouTube video to upload, just one more connection to make in the digital world that now shapes real life.This year's four-day … [Read more...]

Churches late to Facebook party?

A mere three years ago, Diana Davis published a hands-on book for church leaders entitled "Fresh Ideas For Women's Ministry."When flipping through its pages, she said, one of the first things she notices is a missing word -- Facebook. She needs to rewrite the whole book to cover this reality gap."That obvious, isn't it? It's so obvious that we ought to be using Facebook to tell more women about our Bible studies and prayer groups and retreats and things like that," said Davis, who has been … [Read more...]

A social media Reformation?

As every avid Twitter user knows, there are only 140 characters in a "tweet" and that includes the empty spaces.The bishops gathered at the ancient Council of Nicea didn't face that kind of communications challenge and, thus, produced an old-fashioned creed that in English is at least 1,161 characters long.No wonder so many of the gray-haired administrators in black suits in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops struggle with life online. It's hard to take seriously the frivolous-sounding … [Read more...]


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