Posted in coaching

google theology

“Honey, were you looking to buy bath toys?” I thought, how did he know? “Yes,” I confessed, “for your grandson!” It’s funny but kind of scarry, too. All our devices are synced.

“We’ll never sell your personal information to anyone,” Google reassures us. “We make money from advertising, not by selling personal information.” OK, so what happens to all our “non-personal information”—which Google is not “selling” but from it makes tens of billions of dollars a year?

Google uses our “non-personal information” (that is, everything we search, buy, read, watch, text, email, and post) to create individual profiles on us. Then it directly shares our profile with advertisers, asking them to bid on specific ads that target each profile. This includes our geolocation, device IDs, gender, age, interests, and browsing history. These “real-time bidding” auctions are spinning every millisecond as more of our “non-personal information” becomes available. And who controls the bidding? Google Marketing Platform of course.

“Trust in this adorable doodle logo with all your heart … and its algorithms will direct your path and track your every move” (Prov 3:5-6, Google International Version). Not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without Google Maps knowing about it.

We all use Google. What is Google’s mission? “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” What are we to make of Google’s theology?

Universal accessibility to the world’s information is useful but it does not automatically make us wise. For example, a simple Google search on “how can I deal with worry and anxiety?” may provide quick answers; but what would happen if we wrestled with God through the book of Philippians instead? To use CS Lewis’s words, such a momentous experience would change our whole consciousness and we would become what we were not before. To access all the world’s information without engaging the world’s Creator is unwise, don’t you think

Searching the world’s information through algorithms may be expedient but it often creates confirmation bias. How do we know whether we are searching for the truth or searching to confirm our own ideas? What is sharp enough to pierce our soul to discern the thoughts and intentions of our heart? God’s word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12). The “sword” here is the same word used to describe Peter’s fisherman knife (John 18:10). Like a sharp fisherman’s knife that separates the intertwined meat and bones of a fish, only God’s word can cut through our confirmation bias.

Although Google has the power to auction off our “non-personal information,” the fact is that we’ve already been bought, not by the highest bidder, “but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Cor 6:19-20; 1 Pet 1:18-19). Google’s Marketing Platform can’t touch that.

Posted in coaching

twitter theology

You probably don’t use Twitter (most Christians don’t). You may even think it’s the devil’s hell hole (it can be). But every journalist, politician, CEO, celebrity, and prominent Christian influencer are heavy users. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Twitter has a theology. Just look at its mission statement.

As of today, Twitter’s mission statement is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers.” As of today, Twitter’s website states that they seek to provide “a free and global conversation” where people have “safe, inclusive, and authentic conversations.” Elon Musk may shake things up. “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter,” he said, “because that is what free speech means.” Musk promises to “defeat the spam bots” and “authenticate all real humans.” See? Twitter does have a theology!

Twitter theology is about having free, safe, inclusive, authentic conversations with authenticated real humans—in less than 280 characters (although most tweets are only 33 characters). Gee, I’ve been on Twitter for 10 years. Have I ever experienced such “authentic conversations” with my 496 followers? Twice … maybe.

Even so, I like the concept of Twitter theology.

Free conversations help people find their voice. “Fools … only want to air their own opinions” (Prov 18:2). Unlike Mordecai who encouraged Esther to find hers. “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place … who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Sometimes all it takes is a little “tell me more” and a bit of “what do you think?” to get things going.

Safe conversations never interpret disagreement as hate. “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” sings Taylor Swift in a delightfully catchy tune that condemns anyone who doesn’t appreciate her. If it is hateful to express a different view, then every committee meeting, every marriage, friendship, and relationship would implode. Safe conversations do not mean everyone agrees in kumbaya ecstasy. No, safe conversations happen when everyone can disagree and grow in humility and wisdom. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”—in other words, it is impossible for one tool to become sharper without clashing with another (Prov 27:17). Without disagreements, both blades would be dull and useless.

Authentic conversations in real time with real humans are life-giving and life changing. I admit, I literally feel sick when I watch my students come to class, immediately pull out their phones, and ignore each other. I almost burst out crying at restaurants when I see Moms and Dads staring at their phones while their kids are eating in silence. Sometimes I want to scream “put your damn phone down” at meetings. It’s rude, death-giving, and arrogant (there I said it). The only one who can multitask and be fully present at the same time is God. “Authenticate all real humans” with your life-giving, life-changing attention.