Posted in coaching

facebook theology

With close to 3 billion active users every month—80% of which use it every day (mostly over-35-year-olds), Facebook is the place to celebrate and virtue signal, to shoot off political rants and express kind words, to reconnect with high school friends and secretly spy on them. I think that’s why most people have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.

Last year, Facebook rebranded to Meta. Why? Over the next 10-15 years, Meta plans to augment virtual reality technologies to create a more “embodied” kind of Facebook, where users no longer scroll, post, and “like,” but are fully immersed in a computer-generated Metaverse.

The word, Metaverse, comes from Neil Stephenson’s novel, Snow Crash (1992). The dystopian storyline involves two parallel worlds. The physical world, called, “Reality,” is controlled by corrupt mega corporations. The online, virtual world, called, “Metaverse,” is more exciting, but fraught with danger. If Paul read it, he would say, “they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself” (Eph 4:18, MSG).

Today, experts predict that Metaverse will absorb the internet and take it to the next level. No more pesky texts or emails or neanderthal phone calls! Digital holographs will pop up in front of us to deliver messages (like Princess Leia in Star Wars). Users will be able to come together in a new kind of virtual space. 

“You don’t have to choose between being on your device or being fully present,” says Mark Zuckerberg. With augmented reality glasses, “imagine seeing holograms, turn-by-turn directions or being able to play chess on a table in front of you with your loved one 3000 miles away, right from your glasses.” Of course, you’ll need to create an avatar, a digital representation of yourself. For example, I could be a kitty, or a kitty warrior, or kitty warrior birthing person. The possibilities are endless!

There is nothing wrong with virtual reality. However, recent studies indicate that it’s kind of a time vampire; it distorts our sense of time.We experience “time compression” when we lose track of how much time has lapsed. So, what seemed like 20 minutes in virtual reality was actually 3 hours.

Everyone wastes time to some degree, so Paul encourages us to “redeem the time” by offering our days, our nights, our weekends, to the Lord (Eph 5:15-16; Col 4:5). “A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it” (Eccl 7:18).

Meta/Facebook theology promises to give us a more intense connection with family and friends. Will interfacing with each other’s digital holographs be more meaningful than clicking “like”? Metaverse may claim to be an “embodied virtual world,” but embodiment is precisely what it negates.

“But that’s no life for you,” Paul says, “You learned Christ!” (Eph 4:20). Being a Christian is not learning about Christ; it is learning Christ. The way you learn Christ is to hear Christ—not just hear about him (Eph 4:21). You hear him. The way you learn Christ is to be taught by God himself (John 6:45). The good news is that, if the Lord can speak through donkeys, like he did with Balaam, he can communicate to those involved in virtual reality technology. 

Posted in coaching

amazon theology

Who can forget the spring of 2020? The top 10 searches on Amazon were toilet paper, face mask, hand sanitizer, paper towels, Lysol spray, Clorox wipes, mask, Lysol, masks for germ protection, and N95 mask. For the first time in our lives, we were buying things we’d never bought online before. Amazon was our savior.

Amazon sets the terms and conditions by which we sell, buy, and much more. This virtual empire of recorded purchases owns the largest collection of consumer desire. Anyone that can anticipate and supply all our needs according to the riches of fast delivery must be a god. In his book, Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls us to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (available on Amazon). Well, I haven’t read it, but I like the idea of “another type of progress.” 

So, does Amazon have a theology?

Amazon theology is guided by four principles: customer obsession, passion for invention, commitment to excellence, and long-term thinking.

Principle 1: customer obsession. With one click, it’s like Christmas every week! Gifts wrapped in cardboard boxes make life better, brighter, easier, smarter, cooler, more productive. Nothing wrong with that. So why would Jesus say, “Be careful and guard against all kinds of greed. People do not get life from the many things they own” (Luke 12:15)? What can we do to be more “careful”? Make simplicity a virtue. Simplicity as virtue does not mean straw hats, suspenders, and long beards. Virtue thinking necessitates ongoing discernment informed by an awareness of Christ and his kingdom. What we are after is an understanding of simplicity that heightens our love for God, people, and creation. Exchange customer obsession with a more virtuous preoccupation.

Principle 2: a passion for invention begins with customers–their values, needs, desires–and works backward to create things that will benefit them. Nothing wrong with that—except that it makes us the center of the universe. What if we began with Jesus—his values, needs, desires—and work backwards to deliver the outcomes he wants? “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isa 43:19). The Lord has a passion for invention and invites us to participate.

Principle 3: a commitment to excellence. The dictionary defines excellence as “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” However, there is a reason that Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18). Our commitment to excellence is actually a commitment to Christ. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col 3:23).

Principle 4: long-term thinking. It’s hard to argue against convenience, greater choice, innovation, and lower prices. But when Goliath exerts tremendous pricing and margin pressure on small businesses, little guys file bankruptcies and stores close. I want to encourage you to pause and pray before you click. Long-term thinking must have broad considerations. “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Phil 2:4).