Monday, December 27, 2010


Kelly, originally uploaded by MegBiallas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Digital Story of the Nativity

What if Jesus had been born in 2010 - amid viral videos, cloud computing and GPS capabilities? How would news of his birth spread? (I'm willing to bet the coming of Christ would have made CNN headlines, and trended on Twitter). Three cheers to this clever, modern take on the birth of our Savior!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

From The Outside Looking In

I believe there is wisdom in perspective - many perspectives. Every now and again, it's healthy to see how others see Christianity - from the outside looking in. I finished two books recently that gave two "outside" perspectives on Christianity and the Church. The first is fictional, the second is a first-person account.

How To Be Good (Nick Hornby) follows a family's upheaval when the wife cheats, and her husband has a spiritual conversion. It's a rather depressing book (not the first depressing British novel I've read, either), and a rather raw look at a damaged marriage. I even considered giving up on it. But after learning of the spiritual element, I forced myself to finish it. The unfaithful wife wants to reconcile and is perturbed by her husband's selfless-ness. She asks herself throughout what it really means to "be good." In one scene she thinks reflectively about her desire to attend church again. I was struck by her honesty about her ideal church service:

It's the lack of conviction I want, of course. I was hoping for a mild, doubtful liberal, possibly a youngish woman, who would give a sermon about, say, asylum seekers and economic migrants, or maybe the National Lottery and greed, and then apologize for bringing up the subject of God. And somehow in the process I would be forgiven for my imperfections.

In The Land Of Believers (Gina Welch) is a step down from a church expose. Gina, an atheist Jew, spent two years at Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC) in Lynchburg, Virginia to better understand the Evangelical Christian faith. She describes her intent:

My hope for this book is that it will provide readers with a vivid portrait of evangelical hearts and minds to eclipse the old, broad caricatures; that people like me-people who bristle at public prayer or roll their eyes when someone asks if they've heard the Good News-might find in my book ways of accepting and connecting to Evangelicals.

Others have gone undercover at churches - and at TRBC, too. There's another book that came out around the same time - one that I haven't read, but appears to put not-so-nice a slant his experience at Jerry Falwell's Baptist church. It's called The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University.

Gina is newly arrived in Washington, D.C this year as a lecturer at George Washington University. As such, she's been interviewed by Brightest Young Things and Washington Life magazine, where you can learn more about her experience.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Web Finds: Future of Family, Secular Donations, and Civic Projects

Consider this post the equivalent of the Google Reader. Let's call it the Digital Disciple Reader - these are just a few these that have crossed my computer screen lately, and I thought they'd be worth sharing.

1. I made my podcast debut last week on the Bluevine Collective! Media Ministry Special Matt Peyton interviewed me about my experience at the Rally To Restore Sanity.

2. Do you manage any pages on Facebook? This post from Inside Facebook explains the Zuckerberg has further opened up analytics (called "Facebook Insights") so social media managers can see the number of impressions per post.

3. Last week I made a recipe from Melanie Spring's blog (Ricotta & Herb Pasta) I don't know Melanie personally, but I did spot her blog post about "Tithing To Support The Faith Community"

4. Pew Research has a few great reports out there. I haven't read either of them in depth, but I think they're definitely worth reading:

5. What would it be like to live for an entire month without human interaction - real life, that is? One woman conducted a social experiment by living in a storefront. She couldn't talk to other humans in real life, but rather she use social networks as much as possible. How did it affect her? Read about the Public Isolation Project.

6. A few weeks ago, my friend Ethan Klapper sent me an invite to RockMelt, a new web browser. If you haven't heard about it yet, the New York Times wrote a primer on how to use the very-social-browser. It really integrates your social networks into one web experience.

7. And for fun, BreadPeople.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Morning

How can you stay outside? There's a beautiful mess inside.
- Yael Naim

Thank you for the morning.
Thank you for a quiet moment.
Help me sort through the busyness of the week.
I draw on you for strength.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blue Like Jazz: A Movie Worth Saving

This is a phenomenal example of a crowd-sourced / community-funding movie production. Check it out:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Taboo Watercooler Talk

Sex! Politics! Religion! Oh, my!

Sending smiles to Pastor Stan over at the Bluevine Collective. He emailed me this photo of an advertisement recently that really captures the humor of religion in public life.

This advertisement in Christian Century intrigues me. Sex, politics and religion are topics society tells us to stay away. Ironically, this idea only makes me want to examine them more closely. (Imagine that!)

What about religion, or spirituality, has intrigued you, but silenced you? What is stopping you from talking about it? Some of the best cultural shifts have come from asking questions, from going "there." I'm reminded of "Degrassi" a Canadian TV show aimed at teens, during which literally no topics are off-limits. In fact, the United States media banned some episodes that covered controversial teen issues. But claiming a topic controversial does not deny its existence.

No epic character goes without experiencing some risk. Otherwise, why read the book? Why watch the movie? Risk makes life worth living. Risk creates change.

Controversy? I want it. Bring it on.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Sunday Question

Today Pastor Stan from the Bluevine Collective posed a great question: How do you experience connection with God?

I started to make a list, and when I did, I realized how contrapositive it is! It reminded me of how God can be all things, can seem very contradictory. ("I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.")

But my ways of connecting with God also seem much like the verse in Revelation.

In community or in solitude.

With a soundtrack or without.

In a moment's realization or a daylong musing.

Verbal. Written. In motion.

I feel like I could write a blog post on each pair of concepts. But one aspect to highlight: Pastor Stan writes a lot about music's influence on his spiritual growth, specifically with U2's music. And blogger/commenter Aaron Reddin commented that he connects with Pearl Jam.

I can't name a particular artist, but I have been draw to music that deeply resonates with sorrows or deep spiritual questioning. That's when I feel connected to God.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"It's SO Christ-Chic"

Tonight's Glee episode went beyond spirit fingers, and reached a whole new level of divinity. It took on a religion/spirituality theme. Among some of the song choices:

  • A moving rendition of "I Want To Hold Your Hand"
  • The surprising inclusion of "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from the lesser-known Streisand movie "Yentl"
  • Obvious choices: REM's "Losing My Religion" and "What If God Was One Of Us?"

What I enjoyed most was watching all the #glee tweets. Tones across the spectrum of spirituality emerged. Some fans were outraged at the religious theme, while others thought it a refreshing turn from the brash Britney Spears-inspired episode. Still others remarked at the timing of the gay rights v. church debate, especially in light of last week's Tyler Clementi tragedy.

Here are a few tweets I pulled in from

Just watched "Glee." What a mature set of statements about religion. - @BrianStelter

Tonight's #Glee has confused me... What religion am I, what do I believe, do I like grilled cheeses? - @stevenfrombb10

Tina: "Last week we were too sexy, this week we're too religious. We can't win." Brittany: "Now I know how Miley feels." #Glee - @xmileyamazingx

Truly amazing episode of #Glee tonight. Very well written ep on a very touchy subject. Never expected that kind of show from#Glee. Thanks. - @longflyball

I do not have words for how atrocious the messaging was on#Glee tonight. #overit - @sionnan

Glee really isn't strictly a comedy and it certainly isn't a drama either... I believe #Glee is a new genre, It's unique and a special show. - @LeaGleeFans

So Kurt is a gaytheist too! Very cool.#glee #atheism #atheist” :: Yayyy us! :] - @seculagaytheist

When #Glee preformed "What If God Was One Of Us" I broke down and cried. And on that note, I'm going to bed noww. Goodnitee and God bless. - @taylorhalise

Glee is exploring the #god complex. is it due to #fox or something else? - @irobyn

I wish there were a separation between church and my TV. #glee #worstepisodeever - @icelandicody

"I don't believe in God, Dad, but I believe in you. " :/#Glee #makemecry - @nicoleelkington

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

God In America

Every once in awhile, I think of the amazing opportunities Twitter has provided me (See previous post: "Why I Believe In Social").

On this particular evening, Twitter was the reason I stood in the lobby of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. sipping white wine and chatting about religious life in America.

When I checked in, a representative from the partnering Boston Public Radio, WGBH, found my name on the list and said, "Oh, you're one of our Twitter friends! Thanks for the support.") Oh, the wonders a simple retweet will do.

I was at the screening for a new 6-hour PBS series called "God In America". Tonight's screening highlighted three parts of the series, which feature influential historical figures in America's religious identity over the last two hundred years, including Anne Hutchinson, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

A brief panel followed the screening, which addressed production, depth of coverage and accuracy. Below is some of the panel's commentary, though I can't recall everyone's name from the panel, so do forgive me:
  • We can't understand history without understanding America's relationship with religion.
  • The focus of this film is more about the public consciousness of religion at certain points in history (i.e. the Civil Rights movement, and the Puritan/Protestant clash).
  • The film uses NYC actors, and even Michael Emerson, who plays "Ben" in the TV show Lost.
  • In the coming years, how will America live with great religious diversity?
  • The generational struggle with liberty is what keeps liberty alive with each generation.
  • One debate is this: Was America founded on Christian principles, or founded on religious liberty?
  • Thomas Jefferson is argued to be one of the "most secular" of the nation's founders.
  • There is a trend in America's history to expand the sacred canopy. With each struggle (i.e. abolishing slavery, accepting Muslim Americans), there develops a great acceptance.
  • There is only so much that can be portrayed in 6 hours. Scholars who contributed to this project, such as Stephen Prothero, admitted that scholars can continue to write, but film requires cuts and edits, which may not allow for full coverage of a particular topic or faith group.
In any case, the film airs October 11, 12, and 13 on PBS. With the mix of historical footage, actors, and expert interviews, it's sure to be anything but a snoozefest!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why I Believe In Social

This post originally appeared on The Bluevine Collective on September 21, 2010.

Whenever someone asks me why I love Twitter, I’m initially at a loss of words (because I don’t know where to start!). But then I quickly recover, and my face lights up.

I love Twitter - among other social networks - because of what it represents. A friend described me, saying, “You like to network, but you go beyond that. You take joy in bringing people together.”

I see social media as one way to do that.

So many recent tech and business articles start out along the same lines: “Social media has drastically changed our culture...blah blah blah.” And that’s true. But I believe the social networks are uniquely placed to develop our spiritual growth. Because I believe - as Marshall McLuhan did - that the medium is the message. What if church was the blog - was the conversation - was the photo gallery - was the podcast?

Pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow is a great example. He’s a technophile, a prolific blogger. In fact, he believes in blogging as a spiritual practice. How ‘bout that? There are so many hands and feet of the church who are using the networks as additional limbs to reach others.

It breaks all boundaries. Social is open. A tweet has the power to spread like fire. A Facebook petition can mobilize and influence key legislation. Just like Gutenberg’s Bible made the Gospel available to peasants - just like the move away from all-Latin Catholic masses - just like Jesus made us a shortcut to get to God - social media gets to the heart of accessibility.

It builds relationships. I’ve formed new (in-person) relationships with folks I wouldn’t have otherwise known. God wants us to be in relationship with one another. Social media serves as an extension of - but certainly not replacement for - those relationships. A recent article from Inside Facebook describes how several different religious communities have developed an online presence that seeks to engage its members where there are most -- online.

It moves us towards authenticity. In the “old days” the Internet used to be a great place to hide out; anonymous identities could reign supreme. Defamation and libel tore across the Interwebs. And while some of that may still occur, online presence is becoming increasingly normalized. There is an expectation towards openness, honesty. If you make an error, you can quickly retract it (most of the time...). Privacy settings are great, but creating many accounts across the web, means authenticity is expected. Disqus is a fantastic example of this. It’s a commenting system that tracks your comments across the web. Friends and family often ask me how to “control” Facebook and limit what certain groups of friends can see. But doesn’t that sort of lose the whole point of social media? Doesn’t Jesus call us to live an authentic life? It’s hard to do that when you’re packing up certain parts of life for only certain people to see. We all need accountability and social media moves us, symbolically, towards that.

It is encouraging. My church’s current series is called “From Garden To City” which is a year-long bible reading plan. and it comes complete with a website that posts the daily reading, and often a blog post from a church leader reflecting on the passage. It’s amazing to wake up in the morning, do my reading, then hop and Twitter and see Pastor Joel tweeting his favorite passage, or my friend JT explaining what he learned from a verse in a Facebook note. Suddenly, the act of reading a bible has become 3-D and interactive. The daily discipline of cracking open the Word is no longer a solitary, linear activity.

All this said, I don’t want to claim that social media should in any way replace traditional forms of worship, or that social media doesn’t have its pitfalls -- it does. Social media can make us proud. It’s turned some everyday folks into Internet celebrities. Some people focus on how many “followers” or “fans” they can achieve. The constant stream of knowledge can be over-stimulating, when what we really need is some peace and quiet.

So balance is key. Like the famous Spiderman quote: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Some may think it a stretch, but I believe social media can bring me closer to others and even closer to God.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Alpha: Life's Questions

I'll be the first to admit that I always have questions. I wonder about God, and question grace and the meaning of life. It's completely normal, in fact. But most of the time, I don't think we allow ourselves the chance to really ask the questions - and hash it out in a safe environment.

Join me on Monday night at 7 pm for the kick-off to the Alpha Course at Ebenezer's Coffeehouse.

It's free to join, and you get dinner (eh? eh?).

To learn more about Alpha, visit the NCC website, which includes a short promo video.

NCC also has a strong deaf community. The video below features Kari Olney, a prolific blogger and former protege at National Community Church. Below is her promotional video for the Alpha Course.

Got questions? Come to the table and ask.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Perfect Hyperlocal Recipe?

About a year ago, I guest blogged for the Summer 2010 NPR Interns news site ("Jump For Joy Across The Digital Gap"). It was then, newly enveloped in the wonders of Twitter, that I started reading and writing about the shift to hyperlocal news in the midst of so much journalistic upheaval.

I've come across some really great blogs that cover the pop up of hyperlocal news sites and discusses biz models (LostRemote and Newsonomics are great).

Today, in fact, I came across a post from Newsonomics. While it did a great job of covering TBD's launch last month, it also talked about one of the newest sites, The Deseret News, based out of Salt Lake City. What I most enjoyed - it's recipe-like description of what's going to make The Deseret News successful. What does that recipe look like?

Several cups full of daily newspaper and broadcast types.
Teaspoon of Christian Science Monitor.
Teaspoon of Demand Media
Borrow ingredients from 143-year-old Washington Post and 1-month-old TBD

Directions: shred, dice, slice, puree, whir and blend.

Here's what I also found interesting: from a religion reporting perspective, Newsonomics noted that SLC has a high population of Latter Day Saints (duh). But, hey! Great to see a slight resurgence in religion reporting.

I chuckle, though, as Newsonomics writes:

"And it's all something of a blur, especially the view from outside the unique culture of Utah. The deep talk of values and mission is enough to give an old newsie hives, and we'll all have to watch to see how much "news" coverage is skewed by religious beliefs."

Friday, August 27, 2010

By Day And By Night

In my twitter bio, I write: "I fight crime by day and blog by night."

And it's true. Here's an update on both aspects.

I've been on the job about 3 months now, and it's almost hard to believe. They're keeping me busy at work. Here's just a sampling of what I've done:
  • Pitched events to major media markets.
  • Comprehended the budget and appropriations process in Congress.
  • Learned to love Excel (sorting columns saves my life!)
  • Recruited, interviewed & selected interns. (Wait, wasn't I just in the other seat?)
I am learning a ton, and so thankful for the opportunity that this job has provided me. But as for the other part of my twitter bio, I really do "blog by night." In addition to Digital Disciple, I write for 2 others.

Capital Comment Picked Up By Hyperlocal News Site "TBD"

Here's the big announcement: Capital Comment has been picked up by TBD, a new DC-based hyperlocal news site that launched in early August. I'm totally stoked for this opportunity. TBD operates on original reporting and collaboration from WJLA-TV. It has a huge emphasis on community engagement and links to local DC blogs. I'm honored to have Capital Comment part of the Community Blog Network. I'll have a more formal announcement on Capital Comment itself. I also praised TBD's launch in a recent blog post, if you want to learn more.

Here's my bio from the TBD site:

The Bluevine Collective Provides A Creative Worship Space Online

In May, I met with Stan and Matt, a pastor & media guy from St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. At the time, they were just about to launch a creative, multi-author blog project called the Bluevine Collective. I knew I was headed off to Washington, D.C. to start my first job out of school, but really didn't know my role for the Bluevine Collective.

Once I got rolling though, I wrote about themes of hospitality, caring for the poor and homeless. Now I'm in the middle of a series on the clash of the Gen-Y dating culture, feminism, and the Church. I would LOVE your thoughts on the whole topic, so feel free to stop by and leave a comment or two.

The other bloggers add insights about meditation, spirituality, music and relationships. If you haven't already checked out the Bluevine Collective, do it now.

So, between work and juggling 3 blogs, I've managed to stay pretty busy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baptism By The Bay

I didn’t fully understand the term “cloud of witnesses” until three weeks ago. I found myself wading in the Chesapeake Bay in front of a crowd of a few hundred explaining myself. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to -- and that is what made all the difference.

I truly believe this was a divine moment. I believe God had brought together a series of events, all colliding and crashing to intersect at that one moment when I could rejoice with my church family: I love Jesus. Could God’s orchestrations be any more beautiful? I’m sure I have only the faintest idea.

If you’ve known me for most of my life, you know that I grew up Catholic. So to respond to your first statement (“But you’ve already been baptized!”), I will say this: I have been baptized, First-Communion-ed and Confirmed. But what is most important is the journey, not the checklist. Getting re-baptized was a re-affirmation of my devotion – of my recognition of how broken I am. That is all.

But what is a spiritual journey? I think it means wading through the questions, and realizing there are still more questions – more than can possibly be answered. For me, choosing to (re)baptized meant talking the talking – since I was already walking the walk! That said, being baptized does not make me any holier than the next person.

My decision to be baptized was a long-awaited decision. God had been nudging me to make this public declaration ever since I came to Christ in 2006. But my college years made me a church vagabond – splitting time between campus ministries or bible studies, hopping in and among the Greek life community and life as a Resident Assistant.

But after getting plugged into National Community Church last fall, I couldn’t have been more blessed to know that I would soon return to the capital (no, not the Capitol) just 4 months later.

So Baptism By the Bay was my opportunity to profess to my friends, to myself and to God … the cloud of witnesses – my friends, mentors and church family - looked on as I waded through the water. The water had reached past my waist when Pastor Mark held my shoulder (and I plugged my nose) and dunked me. The awesome media team captured every moment (thanks, guys!).

How great is love the father has lavished upon us that we should be called the sons and the daughters of God?

I mean, really?

By the way, Stephen Elliot is an excellent photographer and deserves oodles of credit for documenting more than 25 baptisms that day!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Non-Profit Tweetup

I attended my first #nptweet – up. If you don’t know, a tweetup is an event organized solely via Twitter. This one, labeled with the hashtag “#nptweet” focused on social media strategies in the non-profit setting.

I’ve attended others like the Online News Association (#onadc) and the D.C. Media Makers (#dcmm), but this one made me feel at home since my new job is in the non-profit setting.

If there are any takeaways, it’s these (you should also look at the conversation stream by checking #nptweet on Twitter):

  • Sometimes, instead of focusing on social media ROI, you need to measure actions taken.
  • Great tools for measuring social media are: backtweet, topsy, tweetmeme, whatthehashtag and twazzup. (I won't link them all; look 'em up).
  • If you have some IT assistance at your non-profit, you should work with APIs, which help replicate information cross-platform. For example, if you want to develop a “donate” tab on your org’s Facebook page, you can use an API to assist.
  • In the future, the genesis of profile information will be such that volunteers/funders/etc. will be able to customize which platforms they want to hear certain information from. For example, a volunteer could arrange settings to follow the Red Cross Twitter page, but not the Facebook page – all within one aggregated platform.
  • Our fellow employees are going to be our best advocates for implementing social media strategy. If they’re not on board, how will you encourage the members, volunteers, donors?
  • Don’t get caught up in the “shiny tools” – focus on value, ethics, brand.

Super-glad to meet Wendy Harman, who developed one of the best examples of a social media policy for her org – none other than the American Red Cross. Frank Gruber, from #DCweek, moderated the amazing panel.

In the future, I would love to see a panel that incorporates social media pioneers at smaller non-profits, and learn from folks who have had difficulty getting buy-in from senior management.

I would also love to gather opinions on this question: How do you approach social media at a member-based org? I’d argue that you need to employ different tactics from the grassroots, volunteer orgs. Leave a comment…

After tonight's discussion, I don't want to ever see a headline like this again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Unhooked From Relationships

Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both" is a 2007 investigative non-fiction piece from Washington Post’s Laura Sessions Stepp. It is evocative, and hardly sugarcoated.

After reading it, I can't help but believe think about how things have changed. The dating traditions I’ve heard about from my parent’s dating years don’t seem to be in place anymore. Anyone else with me? Even a recent post from Slate writes about the new memoir sub-genre - young, single women exploring a new territory:

"This crop of books is laying out what it feels like to be a young, professional, economically and sexually independent woman, unencumbered by children or excessive domestic responsibility, who earns, plays and worries her own way through her 20s and 30s, a stage of life that until very recently would have been unimaginable or scandalously radical, but which we now – miraculously – find somewhat ho-hum."

Many of my female colleagues are ambitious. Some have serious relationships, and some do not. One has a promise ring from her boyfriend – a symbol for the pre-engagement phase. Another friend finished her undergraduate studies in 3 years, and has knocked out her first year of law school at Norte Dame. My friends are in all stages of relationships - some serious, and some not.

Do you remember your first love? Does it make you squirm? Apparently, that's pretty common.

Stepp, the author of “Unhooked,” interviewed Lloyd Kolbe, formerly an adolescent health director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kolbe said most adults would prefer to talk about almost anything other than their early (first) loves. He said even the topic of sex comes up more often in conversations: “We demean first love, deny it, trivialize it, and so our young people trivialize it. We lose the opportunity to talk about real things, like the difference between lust and love. Sex is part of it, but not the central part of it.”


Journalist Stepp suggests that as daughters grow up, parents begin worrying that crushes may become too significant, “distracting girls from more important things like algrebra.” Stepp says parents tell their daughters to “love moderately” lest they lose a college scholarship.

Stepp interviews two sisters - Cleo and Nicole - over the course of a year. The sisters grew up in a Texas suburb with manicured lawns. The girls were never allowed to play in the front yard – only in the backyard where the ‘rent and neighbors could keep an eye on the kids. Cleo notes: “We’ve had everything handed to us.”

Thus begins another commentary on our generation: The Spoon-Feds, the Silver Platters, the Pampered Ones. Stepp notes that we are “spectacular specimens raised in glass houses that are temperature-controlled and as disease-free as humanly possible…their opportunities for learning how to be responsible are few.” (Though there is room for debate on that one…).

Studies show that young women are likely to be optimistic, rule-followers who value school (Uh..check, check, check). But will they make good marriage partners, Stepps wonders? She concludes that our generation has learned little about making tough choices, attending to others’ needs or bearing burdens solo.

Stepps found that young women weren’t alone in their hang-ups about relationships. One guy told her: “To find someone, that’s really scary. Everyone wants that, but its for the rest of your life.” What happened to "going out" on a "date"? Again, it seems as though this generation is only interested in casual sex or committing to a serious relationship. Traditional dates have gone out the window. (Even someone on Urban Dictionary wrote: "Hooking up has replaced mainstream dating....It's no longer, "Omg! When will he call?" but...."Omg, that was awesome, i wonder when he'll ask me out after [last said hookup]."

Stepps continued to meet with students who viewed relationship as one of two things: (1) a serious, long-term relationship that would suck out a personal life, or (2) a series of meaningless hookups devoid of meaning.

Cultural and generational changes have affected the hookup culture. In two ways:

(1) Generational: Even 20 years ago, college residence halls enforced curfews. If a girl didn’t want to sleep over at a guy’s place (she thought he was slimy), she could politely remind her date of the rules in place. (Sometimes rules actually have a purpose – imagine that!) Technology, too, has played a role. Conversations become more informal. Some even argue that the Internet can rob romance of its mystery.

(2) Cultural: A GWU student who studied abroad in Dublin remarked that her Irish university did not provide student housing. The result? She felt less obliged to go home with a guy. Today, the campus lifestyle is not suitable for formal dating traditions. Students work all day, and squeeze in social time with gal-pals, while hitting the social scene. It makes for a pretty full schedule. Hookup is made easy when the two bedrooms are right down the hall from one another.

Hookups are, by defintion, brief. They leave little time for either party to reflect, much lest acquire feelings or emotions. Stepp says many young women deal with depression, and in serious cases, eating disorders up to 6 months after a particular hookup. Stepp says, “This means that girls who hook up serially have to work very hard – harder than they may know or admit – to squash or deny natural feelings of connection, making themselves even more vulnerable to depression.”

Kolbe, the health education professor at IU said, “Hookups are purposely uncaring. If they turn off their emotional spigot during this time, what will happen to them as adults?

Stepp attempts to answer that question. Indeed, how will young people grasp the responsibility of adulthood and mature relationships if all they’ve ever known has been emotion-less and last only 24 hours?

Stepp says “College women say they’re not ready to commit, and indeed many may not be. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to think about it.”

Our Gen-Y has grown up observing that 1 out of 2 marriages end in divorce. One of the students Stepp interviewed said, “I think our generation is less likely to stick around and work out problems in a marriage.”

Why else are the online dating services raking in millions of dollars? Do we really not know how to date? Do we know how to develop a relationship? I agree with Stepp that there are few models for women on how to build and develop healthy relationships.

Caveats: On one end, Stepp makes a great case for encouraging more guidance on relationship development. She made clear to make this point more than once: “A girl can tuck a Trojan into her purse on a Saturday night, but there is no such device to protect her heart.” What resources exist for our generations? And what models can we look to? On the other extreme, Stepp borders closely on criticizing a woman’s freedom to choose her path. Several friends pointed out that feminists didn’t take too well to Stepp’s criticism of the third-wave movement.

An interesting piece from NPR reviewed the latest Twilight movie. One comment stuck out: the movie reviewer wondered if the reason so many young women were ga-ga for the plot was because it involved delayed gratification – a foreign concept for most of Gen-Y. Yet perhaps that is why so many young women are enthralled with the story. Are they yearning for delayed gratification?

One young women said it best: “…You don’t have to marry someone in order to learn from spending time with them. There are some relationships that aren’t going anywhere, but you can still learn about yourself…”

What do you think?

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Smite You From The Last Pew

I found this rather humorous photo via

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When The Game Changes, So Do The Rules

Over the last five years, social media has developed into a professional role to aid businesses, politicians, non-profits, the arts and more. What's most interesting is to see how this "new" industry is changing the game - and how it's changed to fit particular organizations.

Today in the Examiner - DC's free daily - highlighted this career, and how some orgs have used social media in different ways.

It was neat to compare how two social media directors use Twitter in two very opposite ways. See, part of the challenge with tweeting on behalf of a whole organization is that, in some cases, you need everything approved.

New Media Director Neil Sroka runs the Twitter account for Secretary of Commerce Locke (@SecLocke). He says they've "cut down on a lot of red tape" but that "we have to follow procedure."

Lindy Kyzer, social media consultant for the US Army (@USarmy), explained that she has been encouraged to "be edgy" in the tweets. She used the account to report and respond to the Fort Hood shootings - as they were happening. "Our efforts would not have been as successful if I had an intense approval process."

Is one way better than the other? Who knows. But I think an organization needs to decide what fits best with the company culture - that's how they'll know how to best approach social media.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blog Hopping (And My 100th Post!)

My inspiration to become a blogger started with Evan McBroom back in March 2009. I met with the church marketing entrepreneur at an Indianapolis Panera to learn about his career path.

I expected to do all the listening, but within the first five minutes I was the one put on the spot. He asked me point-blank: "So, what's your blog about?" Oops. I didn't have an answer. It was enough to get my hands to the keyboard and start whipping up an idea for one. Thanks for the inspiration, Evan! And here's what happened next:

Digital Disciple has been my primary blog to explore faith, media and ethics through the Meg Biallas lens. It started with coverage of first-ever conference: the Religion Communicators Council in March 2009. Since then, I've written about observations in technology, the future of journalism, musings on faith, and more. Thanks for reading it, too, because this is my 100th post for Digital Disciple!

I started Capital Comment in August 2009 to keep a running commentary of my adventures as a D.C. intern last fall. But all good internships must come to an end. I never believed I'd be able to resurrect the blog, but I have - and with good reason: I moved right back to D.C. for a job! I'm still working out some of the fancy kinks of Wordpress, but its been a great learning process for me.

My supervisors at National Public Radio let me blog for NPR's All Tech Considered, which covers technology and culture. I explained Facebook policy changes, wrote about iPhones that control smart homes, and even ticked off Google when I questioned if Google's free holiday airport wi-fi was truly "free."

Then in December, I met Gen-Y career blogger Heather Huhman on Twitter. She had just started a blog called the Classroom To Cubicle Project, driven by recent graduates and pending grads. That a fabulous experience - I read job hunting advice from my peers all over the U.S., and contributed what I'd learned in my search as well.

In my final semester at Butler University, I wrote a guest post for the admissions web portal. It was fun to take what I learned about social media from the NPR Social Media Desk and give tips to incoming college students.

And now? I'm a weekly blogger for The Bluevine Collective, a multi-author blog project funded by the United Methodist Church. It's run by two awesome church guys from Indianapolis - Pastor Stan Abell and Media Ministry Dude Matt Peyton. The project is experimental -- we hope to evolve into a place of spiritual growth and even a mode of worship. My most recent post sparked a series of comments about ...well, you'll just have to read it. We also take submissions - poems, commentary, musings - all of it!

Thanks for sharing the blogging journey with me!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Techno-Human Balance

"Our life is half natural and half technological. Half-and-half is
good. You cannot deny that high-tech is progress. We need it for jobs. Yet if you make only high-tech, you make war. So we must have a strong human element to keep modesty and natural life."

- Nam June Paik, modern video artist

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Proof In the Low-Fat Pudding"

Maybe it's my new-found love of Trader Joe's, or that I recently watched "Super Size Me," but I'm suddenly fascinated by eating habits.

So much so, that during a visit to a local DCPL branch, I found Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" on display. I checked it out.

Pollan attributes part of America's eating problem to our Puritan roots (those gosh-darn prudes):

"Like sex, the need to eat links us to the animals, and historically a great deal of Protestant energy has gone to helping us keep all such animal appetites under strict control."

Of course this is just a brief mention of Christian social reform, but I think it bears another look.

What if we (a) bought "real" food instead of processed food and (b) what if we took time to enjoy it? I realize both of those suggestions are hardly convenient, but I wonder if the long-term effects might bode better for us than the "easy" path?

One report - "Too Fat to Fight" produced for Mission: Readiness found a sobering statistic : 75% of young people who want to enter the military cannot do so for three main reasons. One of those reasons? Obesity. The statistic comes to include 27 percent of young people who are overweight. In other words, obesity is a concern for national security.

If you don't want to read Pollan's book, just take a look at the cover, which offers this simple message:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Religion On The Radiowaves

"Speaking of Faith," a talk radio show from American Public Media, got some great coverage from The New York Times this week.

Creator and host Krista Tippett describes her radio show as a vocation: “I get asked if I consider this show a ministry. I do like the word ‘vocation,’ a calling. If it is a ministry, it’s a ministry of listening rather than talking.”

That, friends, is the beauty of journalism. The focus is not on the storyteller, but rather on the story-maker.

Finally, I love how Tippett describes the religion beat:
“Religion is a touchy subject. You’re really getting at the core of people’s identities, an intimate place. This religious sphere in our public life is very charged, and I want to disarm that.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cavemen, Mountain Men and Cadets: Where They Worship

Sara Pulliam, online editor of Christianity Today, tipped me off to this sweet gallery of the "50 Most Extraordinary Churches of the World."

Want to praise God in a re-vamped Shell Station? Like a moss-covered cathedral built into a hill? A chapel built from sticks or tipped upside down? This site has it all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pay Up, Cash In: Do You Want Paid Content?

In my remaining weeks as a college student, I've turned to Pandora, a free custom music station, to fill my many house of paper-writing.

I'd heard a rumor or two about time limits on Pandora. Today, I faced the reality. Pandora wants me to upgrade, but I don't want to pay. Our generation has grown up online, and we've also grown up on "free" -- listening to the top hits, catching up on an episode of "30 Rock," or even designing a basic Web site.

Soon, "free" will be over. But I don't know many of my generation that will want to shell out the dough. One of my roommates decided her addiction to Pandora was too important, so she subscribed for 30 bucks a month.

Already, sites like Pandora and Facebook have broken through the advertising mold to create personalized ads (Pandora seems to think I really need X brand of birth control and the audio ads think I'm in the market for "Indiana's most affordable diamond dealer"). Plus, ads are interactive and self-selected. Facebook's got their "like" option, which allows them to give you better ads, and Hulu lets viewers choose which brand of car they want to see commercials for.

Paid content is the way of the future. Apple is already proving that with the advent of the iPad.

Credit cards - monthly subscriptions - pay-as-you-go? What will be the model for paid content in the near future?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

FIghting Crime With (My) Words

In three weeks, I will be a Butler University graduate.

In four weeks, I will be sitting at a desk.

That desk will be in an office located just blocks from the White House in Washington, D.C.

It’s pretty amazing how it all unfolded. Here it is, in a nutshell.

I visited D.C. over spring break in hopes that I could score a few job interviews (success!). During that week, I had a really great experience with an organization called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. I interviewed with them twice that week, and quickly learned that the people there are passionate and energetic. Bingo.

There are countless non-profits that have headquarters in Washington.That said, there isn’t a single non-profit job in D.C. can be explained in less than a paragraph. Here’s my paragraph:

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is a national organization that uses the voice of law enforcement (sheriffs, police officers, etc.) to encourage policymaking and funding for early learning programs, like HeadStart. The parent organization, Council for a Strong America, also works with branches that involve pastors, retired military officials and business leaders. The people at CSA and Fight Crime truly care about the mission. They care about kids.

So what do I get to do? Communicate! (Big surprise there, huh?) I will assist in writing press releases, organizing press conferences, writing op-eds and creating video content, and – perhaps – enhancing their social media strategy. Yes, they have a Twitter account.

Pastor Mark Batterson at National Community Church (in D.C.), recently wrote on his blog about Ephesians 2:10, which states: “We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works prepared for us in advance.” Whoa. I didn't see this one coming, clearly. I have to keep that in mind as I move forward. I don’t think I’ve comprehended everything that’s happened to me in the last month, but through it all I know, that God has a plan (why wouldn’t he? He’s a pretty organized guy, even if I don’t understand his methods sometimes).

I’m blessed to have a church there, an amazing group of friends (not to replace the ones I have a Butler, just new ones!), a great network of Butler alumni and an excellent understanding of the metro system. When combined, I think it’s going to mean a great start to my grown up life in the nation’s capital.

Guess that means my D.C. blog won’t be dying anytime soon.