Marcus Hutchins: I Was Wrong About Mastodon

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Web/Tech

I Was Wrong About Mastodon:

The crucial mistake of social media was trying to force people with wildly incompatible views to co-exist in the same space. In real-life, I can choose who I associate with. Now, I’m most certainly not looking for an echo chamber. I need my views to be questioned and debated, but it must be by people capable of civil discourse. We should discuss, we should reassess, we should admit when we’re wrong. That is not the status quo online.

Traditional social media does not promote diversity of thought, it is for all intents and purposes an echo chamber, albeit, one that encourages piling on passers-by who possess different opinions. Mastodon feels much closer to hanging out with reasonable friends and acquaintances, whereas Twitter is equivalent to having 15 racists drunk uncles assigned to follow you wherever you go.

Hutchins’ piece describes my own experience with Mastodon. Do take the time to read the whole article linked above. It will help you understand why the new emerging model for social media is so fundamentally different (and in my mind better) than what has gone before in the ad-supported versions.

And if you’re interested in following me on Mastodon, I’m posting on the Episcopal server Episcodon.net – you can follow me at @wnknisely@episcodon.net 

Rejoice! Jesus is drawing closer and the redemption of the world is nearer.

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An Advent wreath with a single lit candleWe’ve just finished putting up the Christmas decorations today. Doing that at the beginning of Advent represents a pretty big change in my thinking. It’s not a recent change though. It happened years ago when our daughter was younger and my wife and I were losing the argument with her that Advent was really a penitential season of the Church Year. I tell that story and describe the moment my own thinking changed as part of this sermon.

The reading this week tells about how the Son of Man will come suddenly and that at his appearing, some of us will be taken away and some of us will be left behind. But a careful reading of the passage, and a close look at the language that is used invites us to not fear the Advent of Jesus, but to long for it. That is really the key to unlocking a different way to keep this season of preparation and watching.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and pray that you receive every blessing as Advent begins.

The direct link to the video is found here.

Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And nobody else really is.

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Flowers in a pumpkin on a tableWhen we say Jesus is Lord, or that Christ is the King, we’re making a deep theological claim. Essentially, we’re rejecting all the secular structures of the World, and because of how Jesus comes to his Lordship, saying that the existing structures are fundamentally flawed and unjust.

But Christ’s Kingship isn’t just about a sustained critique of other’s leadership or use of power. St. Paul sees the Holy Spirit working even now in the World to reconstruct and redeem the unjust power structures so that they reflect the Creator’s original intent. It’s not that hierarchy is something that needs to be automatically rejected, it’s that we’ve yet to witness a hierarchy that functions according to God’s design.

This week we see Jesus ruling the World as he dies on the cross which the World condemned him to carry. On that cross, he is proclaimed King by action of the ruling power of his day. This week we see another model of leadership and get a glimpse of God’s plan.

The direct link to video is found here.

Are you ready to make your defense?

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A Christmas Cactus in full bloomWe are nearly to the end of the liturgical year. The whole of the Church Calendar is meant to be a tool for teaching about the Christian life and faith. We start the year in Advent though, not Christmas, the officially Advent is supposed to be about the triumphant return of Lord Jesus and our longing and our hoping that day will come quickly. In Christmas we remember the story of Jesus’ first coming and that starts a long season that goes to the beginning of Summer and the Feast of Pentecost, where we learn about the events and meaning of Jesus’ life among us.

That’s a pretty neat idea and it makes sense. It’s a good way to teach about Jesus and to take a yearly refresher course in what he means to us and to the World. But it doesn’t work out that way. It seems like right around the Feast of All Saints (November 1) we make the turn to the end of the World a few weeks before we get to Advent. We’ll still hear about the end of this World and the coming Judgement in December, Merry Christmas to you my friend indeed!, but in our daily readings and in our Sunday readings we’re hearing about the end times each week already.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is warning us that the Apocalypse is coming. That word, apocalypse means “hidden” in Greek. Jesus is telling us in the Gospel today that the violence and injustice that is present in the world, and which seems hidden from us, is about to become manifest and evident to everyone. It will be a hard time, a violent time. It will bring destruction and ruin to many as the secret structures of violence and oppression become powerful and uncontrolled.

The direct link to the video is here.

Weal and Woe in the lives of the Saints

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I used a quote to end my sermon this past Sunday. I don’t know where it comes from, other that in my notes I have it as “Karen’s quotation”. It may be that my wife came across and it shared it with me at one point, or that someone named Karen told it to me and I scribbled it down but didn’t think to get more information about it.

At any rate, it was very well received at the church. If you know where it comes from, I’d love to know too.

We enter the world in tears. The world greets our entrance with joy. If we live our lives well, we leave this life with joy, and the world mourns our passing.

Wanna know what the Kingdom of God looks like? Look at the lives of the Saints.

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Trees in the FallWe are in the midst of the eight days of the celebration of the Feast of All Saints. Almost everyday of the year we remember the story of the great souls that have lived among us, marking the date of the death, because it is the day they are born into the full reality of the Kingdon of God. But there are many more people who have lived heroic lives of faith than the hundreds we remember each year. That untold multitude are the people we celebrate during the Feast of All Saints.

We remember them because we are glad for what they accomplished and because we are sad that they are no longer living visibly among us. And we remember them because, in their lives, they show us what the Kingdom of God will be, and is now, at least when we are in their earthly presence. The lives of the Saints are the true image of the Family of God. Their stories are the foretaste of what will be.

It’s striking that we remember this on what used to be the beginning of the year under the old Celtic calendar. Fall and the Harvest season is the time that nature reaches its full maturity and is given over to lavish harvest and beauty. But it’s the begining of the cold and darkeness of Winter, when the living things sleep and die, to be reborn in the Spring. The Feast of All Saints recalls to us what the mature World will be, and reminds us that, for us to arrive at the moment, we shall have to pass through our own time of sleep and desolation. Just as we see that in the Lives of the Saints.

The direct link to the video is found here.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s something to MOND?

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Science

Planet with rings SBI 300278672Given the failure of all Dark Matter detection experiments so far, some have suggested that maybe classical understandings of Gravity (both Newtonian and the more complete General Relativity) are incomplete. The idea is that we have to tweak the equations a bit to explain the anomalous observed behavior at larger scales in the galaxy (and the local Universe). The tweaks are generally all thought to be part of a rethinking of our understanding of gravity and collected under the term of MOND (MOdified Newtonian Dynamics). 

There’s a new bit of evidence that such a change might be needed:

MOND: Crooked star clusters may be a sign that Einstein’s gravity is wrong | New Scientist:

Clusters of stars, which orbit the centre of their galaxy, typically look a bit like a two-armed pinwheel with opposing tails – though they don’t spin. Their tails are formed when stars bouncing around within the cluster begin to travel either slightly faster or slightly slower than the cluster as a whole. The leading tail in front of the cluster is made up of stars that are slightly closer to the galaxy’s centre, and the trailing one in the back is made of stars that are slightly further from the galactic centre and fall behind. In standard, or Newtonian, gravity, we would expect these two tails to be roughly equal – as the stars bounce around within the cluster, they should be equally likely to be thrown into either tail.

[…]

“It’s like there are two doors to escape the cluster, and the stars can only pass through the doors if they have the right direction and the right energy – otherwise they will just bounce around within the cluster,” says Kroupa. “In MOND, the front door is simply bigger.” Because of the way gravitational effects compound with one another in MOND, the forces pulling stars towards the centre of the galaxy, and therefore towards the leading tail, are stronger than in Newtonian gravity.

This is just a data point. It doesn’t overthrow the accepted theory on its own, but it’s sure interesting. General Relativity works extraordinarily well in almost all situations, and has passed test after test to the limits of our ability to measure.

If something different is really going on, it’s not going to be a simple change to a model…

The end of the road to Jerusalem

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Autumn woods and a pondThis is the last interaction Jesus has with an outsider (who repents!) before he enters Jerusalem where he is rejected.

This particular story has many echoes of the previous ones, Jesus calling Matthew the Tax Collector and the healing of the blind man who called out in spite of the crowds attempt to silence him.

Jesus seeks the outsider who seeks him – that’s clear in these accounts, particularly in the story of the healing of the blind man earlier in Luke’s Gospel and in this story of Zacchaeus.

Which part of you is seeking Jesus? Which part of you seeks to be healed and restored?

The full link to the video is found here.

Which part of you do think is acceptable to God, and which part do you imagine is unloveable? What if neither idea was true?

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A road in the autumn woodsWe all have met people who are sure that they are doing God’s will. We have met people who are living lives that inspire others with their public goodness. And we’ve met people who are ashamed of and afraid of God. People who hear God’s voice as one filled with judgement and rejection. People who are in the church and people who won’t come to church. (Some of each of the previous categories are in both of the latter categories in my experience.)

But what if, instead of thinking of people who are one or the other, we looked at ourselves as being a little, or a lot, of both? Are there parts of you that you are comfortable with? Are there parts of you that you are ashamed of? Me too. I’m pretty sure that is true of everyone, whether they can admit it to themselves or not.

The extraordinary message of the Gospel this week is that we will be surprised about how God feels about the parts of us that we imagine God values, and how deeply God loves the parts of us that we’re ashamed of. And if that’s true for God, maybe it can true of our feelings towards ourselves too.

The direct link to the video is here.

Pray and do not lose hope. God will surely come.

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IMG 1746At first glance, this seems somewhat silly. God is being broadly compared to a judge who finally is badgered into giving an old woman justice. As one of the commentators on this passage points out, we all sort of know this woman – people like her. A person, a man, or a woman who has no family, no friends, no social network of support. A person who is certain they have been wronged and who has no other recourse than to keep showing up and demanding that the situation be put right. And an official who finally get so sick of the complaining, of dodging the person in the doorway day after day that they give up and give in. The perseverance pays off – but it’s not Justice, it’s just exhaustion.

In ancient times, you could hire mourners for funerals so that the Gods and the community would know that the person who had died was worthy of attention – and maybe even of leniency. In the Middle Ages, cathedrals, churches and religious organizations made money on promising to keep praying for a person’s soul – as the soul made its way through Purgatory to Paradise. It was a good deal for the Church – and if this parable is taken seriously, it’s a good deal for the soul that has requested the prayers.

But all of this reduces God to the status of an official who can be manipulated – particularly by someone who has enough power, influence or money to grant special treatment to the deceased or the morally injured. Maybe that’s what we fear is true about God in moments of doubt or fear.

But that’s not what we think about God on our best days. We believe that God is just and loving – and that God cares particularly for the poor and the outcast, not the rich and the powerful.

So, what’s going on here? Once again, the context matters.

The direct link to the video is here.