Email Woes

I’ve talked about him before, but this post is further confirmation that Merlin Mann is a genius.  He weighs in on some recent New York Times articles about (lack of) Productivity for the average white collar office worker in the US, he made some amazingly helpful comments towards the end of the post.

I would HIGHLY suggest heading over there and reading the whole thing, but here are some of his excellent comments in case you need some cold hard facts for why you should go read it (emphasis mine):

I think it’s important to clarify something here: there’s nothing fundamentally wrong or irreparable about email as a tool. Given my position on how email gets (ab)used, you could be forgiven for thinking I want everyone to write each other letters once a year and ride cows to work. No. Not at all.

My point has always been that, as with any tool, email can be used for good or ill depending on the problems you’ve decided it can solve. One trouble is that our use and widespread adoption of email hasn’t brought with it an equally widely-adopted understanding about how to use it, what content it’s appropriate for, and what expectations we accept regarding when it’s allowed to take us away from everything in our life that’s not email. There are very few shared rules of the road right now. And that’s making life hard for a lot of people.

I’m thrilled to hear that these ideas are bubbling up and getting the attention they deserve; email pain is usually a quiet, lonely, and shameful one, where people’s work and home life suffer from the silent understanding that “too much is never enough” — that trying to tamp down this always-on hysteria is a sign of weakness or sloth. That’s ironic, given the biggest reason we reason use email so much: it’s easy.

There’s no cashier, editor, or therapist through which your message must pass. You set your own rules for what’s appropriate to send, ask, or demand. You decide what it means when someone reacts (or doesn’t react) in a given manner or time frame. Email is still the Wild West, and companies are paying billions of dollars a year to supply the six-shooters and Stetsons. Yeehaw.

Do you feel like email, and other forms of online communication for that matter (chat, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are a net positive for you, or a net negative?  Have you ever actually contemplated what the negatives are in (over?) using these communication tools?  And have you ever considered that they are just that: TOOLS to help us communicate and relate to people.  They are not the point in and of themselves.

A hammer’s for banging nails, and building something you want/need.  If we’re banging a hammer around all the time just because we have it “in our tool box”, it’s kind of missing the point, no?

Free Range Kids

I found out about a really interesting blog from a post on 43Folders.com.  It’s called:

Free Range Kids: Let’s give our children the freedom we had!

If you’re a parent, or would like to be one some day, I think it’s worth reading a bit.  Here’s a blurb about the site:

Do you ever: let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk alone to school? Take a bus, solo? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free Range Kid! At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail. Most of us grew up Free Range and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less. This site dedicated to sane parenting. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe one day I will try to collect them in a book. Meantime, let’s try to help our kids embrace life! (And maybe even clear the table.)

Crazy?  Maybe.  Maybe not…

One thing’s for sure, I’m adding this one to Google Reader to find out for myself.

(HT: 43folders)

150 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO BUILD SOCIAL CAPITAL

A lot of great ideas here, check it out.

Social capital is built through hundreds of little and big actions we take every day. We’ve gotten you started with a list of nearly 150 ideas, drawn from suggestions made by many people and groups. Try some of these or try your own.

1. Organize a social gathering to welcome a new neighbor

16. Attend home parties when invited

34. Join or start a babysitting cooperative (hey Becky: wink wink, nod nod 😉 )

See the rest of the 150 ideas here.

(HT: James, in a comment over at Theopraxis)

Teaching our children to say “Please”

Alfie Kohn, a well known writer on issues of parenting, education, and human behavior, has pointed out that in most cases saying please is simply a meaningless ritual, an automatic trained response, and that the only reason to teach kids to say it is because others expect and will think you rude if you don’t. In other words, there is no intrinsic reason to say please. It doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Check out the rest of this post over at Emerging Parents. The author makes some interesting points, and there are some great comments as well.

What do you think? Check it out, and leave a comment if you have any thoughts.

“Forceful education is a form of violence…”

Just read an interesting post over at the Jesus Creed blog (Scot McKnight), and it reminded me of a post I did the other day about a children’s Bible that I bought to read to my son.

In this post, Scot is talking about a few books that he read recently concerning people who grew up in Christian families, but ended up leaving their faith as they grew older (an all too common occurrence, in my experience). He comes to a conclusion after reading these books, and here’s his main point:

“…we need to do better at a younger age at educating, at exposing to methods, at explaining alternative viewpoints, and at giving kids a chance to think outside the box. Forcing answers, squeezing evidence into a mold, shaping minds to think that it is “all or nothing” will lead to a bigger crash and burn of the faith than a more reasonable approach. Forceful education is a form of violence, and some respond with potent anger while others seem to leave the faith more gently…”

Frankly, I couldn’t agree more. It seems like parents & church leaders must be afraid that if they don’t ram Christianity down their kids throats, then they won’t grow up to follow Jesus… From what I’ve seen, the exact opposite is the case.  A lot of the kids I grew up with in church aren’t going anymore, while I know lots of people who are Christians now who didn’t grow up that way. So it would seem to me that maybe it’s time to start changing how we’re exposing our kids to Christianity…  Which might mean that we need to start being OK with having more questions than answers, and with teaching kids HOW to think/learn about God, and maybe not as much about WHAT to think about God…

I’ll end with another quote from Scot:

“What are your suggestions for the education of Christian youth?”

Well, what do you think?

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

ok, wow. THIS sounds really good…

<Spousal Comment> Becky, I just bought this for us to read to Silas, and it will be here on Monday… Thanks dad, for sharing your Amazon Prime!) </Spousal Comment>

Like the title of this post says, the book is called “The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name“. I found out about it here, and then read more about it here, and then promptly moved on to amazon to pick it up. I don’t typically (actually, never) impulse buy on the Internet (the grocery store is a COMPLETLY different story… is it a coincidence that they put the Ice Cream and the Beer in the same aisle @ Hannaford?)… but I HAD to get this.

I’ve been thinking lately, about what it will look like for me to share my faith in Jesus with my son, Silas, who’s now 2 years old. Granted, there probably isn’t too much I could say about it now that he would understand, but my struggles with it have actually stemmed not from his age, but from something else: my own views of the Bible, the Gospel, and Christianity in general have changed SO MUCH in the last few years, that I’m still wrestling with how to articulate everything even in my own head, let alone being able to figure out how to explain it to a little kid…

Coupled with this, is the fact that most Bible-based books for kids that I’ve seen are super-cheesy (at best), and/or theologically wrong (at worst)… We’ve got this little children’s Bible that someone gave us, and when it comes to Jesus’s death and resurrection, it tells it something like this (I’m paraphrasing):

Some people were angry with Jesus, so he went away for a little while, and everyone was sad. But then he came back, and everyone was happy!

In stark contrast to that… here’s what the author of this book, Sally Lloyd-Jones, has to say:

As a child, I thought the Bible was packed with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn’t love you) and heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn’t love you). I thought, in short, that the Bible was all about me and what I should (or shouldn’t) be doing. Until I read a Story.

It’s the Story running like a golden stream underneath all the other stories in the Bible: the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. Suddenly, I realized the Bible wasn’t about me and what I should be doing at all. It was about God and what he had done. And it changed everything.

And here’s a reviewer’s quote, from the book’s site:

“Sally has captured the plot line of redemption in a children’s story Bible that sings the praise of Jesus and his saving grace on every page, in every story…

“This is heady theology, often missed in adult preaching and teaching, but fully realized in an age appropriate and attractive form that will delight children and often (at least for me) leave the grown up reader in tears…

“To discover The Jesus Storybook Bible is to have a unique resource for communicating the gospel to children in all it’s fullness. I hope that every family, and even people without young children, would get a copy of this book just to remind them of what the Real Story of the Bible is all about.” -K KELLER, REDEEMER, NYC

And one more quote from the site:

“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian—from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God’s revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning—a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.”
DR TIM KELLER, REDEEMER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH , NYC

Sounds like this book will be a good read, and not even just for my 2 year old son, but for my wife and I as well!

Once we start reading it, I’ll post some of my own thoughts on it…