October 20, 2014

Steve Scott: Thinking Outside the Blog


Thinking Outside the Blog: Connecting With Others in the Wilderness
By Steve Scott

I have an idea.

We know that Michael Spencer wrote much about the problems within evangelicalism. So much so that the subtitle of the Internet Monk blog has long been, “Dispatches from the Post-Evangelical Wilderness.”

Wilderness, you say? Yes. That place of dry wandering – and wondering – where neither the city, nor the suburbs, nor the small country town consider us one of their own. Its citizens long for a home, and the comments section at IM has been filled with wilderness wanderers documenting their journeys. Occasionally we hear of success stories of wanderers finding a home. Maybe within the Lutheran church, or the Catholic Church, or the Orthodox Church. Even so, many of us still wander in the wilderness.

But what if there were a way for those in the wilderness to connect with each other? I have occasionally wanted to post a comment asking if there are others in my metro area of 8 million who would be willing to meet, maybe for coffee or a meal, maybe to share our journeys, maybe to start a church. Surely, with iMonk’s vast readership there has to be somebody out there. But the last thing I wanted the blog to become is a place for personals ads. So I sent an email to Chaplain Mike asking for any input. And…

Chaplain Mike had an idea.

What if we started up an Internet Monk Community page on Facebook? That way people could join and send messages to each other privately and maybe set up get-togethers in various places or communicate in ways other than the usual comment threads.

So, Mike set up a Facebook group called “iMonk Community,” with the following as its purpose: “The iMonk Community Group is designed to help readers of the Internet Monk blog connect and communicate in other ways.”

This group will be a “secret group” on Facebook, meaning that members must be added or invited by another member. This should help keep spammers, posers and trolls away and provide a format with reasonable privacy. If you are a reader of the iMonk blog and wish to be a member of the Facebook group, see the instructions at the bottom of this post.

I am excited about this meeting place for iMonk readers. Keep reading this post and Chaplain Mike will give instructions on joining the group. Peace.

• • •

Instructions for Joining iMonk Community on Facebook

  • The iMonk Community Group on Facebook is a “secret” group, which means only members have access to the site. Membership is by invitation only.
  • If you would like to join, make sure first you have established a Facebook profile.
  • Then email Chaplain Mike at chaplainmike333@gmail.com and request an invitation to join the group. Use the email account you want to be contacted at.
  • Chaplain Mike will send you an invitation by email to which you can respond.

David Cornwell: Come and See

First camera...Come and See
Pictures and Text by David Cornwell

From the time I can remember I’ve been interested in photography one way or another. It started out, I think, by seeing my mom and dad use a camera to take family snapshots. In fact I now have an old print, taken around 1940 or so, of me sitting in the grass holding my mom’s Kodak Bantam camera to my eye and looking through the viewfinder. When I was about twelve they gave me an Ansco Panda camera for Christmas. I was in heaven. From that time to this I have been involved in photography to one degree or another. It wasn’t until retirement that I had time to devote to my hobby in a serious way.

However it has always been more than a hobby. It’s a way to get me out into God’s creation. Here I’ve learned to see in new ways. But not only see, but also to listen. To listen seems to me, to be an important part of being with God.

Photography is an interpretation of the beauty we behold. It’s a rendition of reality, or a viewing of what is “out there” literally through a different lens.

It also means that I must slow down, wait for what will happen. The light will change in a subtle way. Something will move. Contrast will grow deeper. The sun will play some trick. A shadow will grow longer, or simply fade away. Landscape photography is the genre I’ve enjoyed most, although I venture some other directions also.

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[click on a photo below, then click on it again on the page that opens for a full size image]

• • •

I don’t mistake myself for a great photographer. I’m just someone who has taken it seriously for some time, learned lessons, practiced, and at the margins keep improving. Photography in the digital age gives one the opportunity to learn at a quicker pace.

I’ve always found myself photographing scenes consisting of a pathway of some sort. In some ways they resemble persistent dreams. Often they start where I am and lead out to infinity— a place which in theory has no end.

For me a pathway has always involved walking. I learned to love walking from an early age because my dad and I would take long walks through the woods. These are some of my earliest and fondest memories. With him I learned to observe nature, and to just enjoy the walk. To be with him, to have a conversation, to love being with each other was what it was all about. I miss him, sometimes so very much.

There are two places I visit most often for photography. One of them, and the easiest, is the farm I live on. I’m surrounded by fields, woods, crops, cattle, woods, birds, deer, coyotes, foxes, and several other members of the animal kingdom. This is an eighty acre detached portion of my son-in-law’s dairy farm.

The other is a large nature sanctuary about fifteen minutes from home. It is Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College (Mennonite), consisting of 1,200 acres. This consists of “Unique geological features such as peat bogs, a marl pit, and glacial gravel formations are present. Observable management practices include wetland, prairie, and savanna restorations, as well as sustainable agriculture.”

The website states “Those associated with the care, management, and ownership of Merry Lea recognize that we are accountable to God for our stewardship of resources in the same way we are accountable for other aspects of our lives.” I’ve been free to come and go, and to roam this place as I wish.

Photography, to me, is about walking a certain path, and seeing something. Sometimes it’s about seeing something not ordinarily visible to the naked eye. When God created this earth and all that is in it, again and again God “saw” something. And what He saw was “good.” He worked from an image when He created us— “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion….”

My best photography is a result of a “vision”— an image that forms in my mind— one that I hope to convey. Photographers often use the words “luminosity” and “luminous.” Their understanding of these terms is rather nebulous in connection with photography, but it has to do with the word “presence.” One well known photographer said that for a photograph to be good it must have “presence.” And that it is luminosity that produces presence. And to be luminous means to be radiating or reflecting light, to be shining or bright. This all sounds a bit circular. But it is something we know when we see, and when we see we understand.

Was it something like this in the beginning? From “The Message:”

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.

God spoke: ‘Light!’
And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
he named the dark Night.

Saturday Ramblings — Oct 18, 2014 (Leaf-Peeper edition)


One of my favorite weekends of the year: Leaf-Peepers Paradise. The second weekend in October is typically near or at peak time for fall foliage in many of the places where I’ve lived. Tomorrow we will feature some spectacular pix by one of our faithful iMonks, and your chaplain himself is hoping to spend some time over the weekend rambling around the woods looking for good photo opportunities.

But for now, let’s ramble together through some of the more interesting sights around the web this week.

Sigh. I guess we should start with . . .

leafavatar_ff3775ea8fc3_128Something about some guy who resigned as pastor from his church in Seattle . . .

Something about how some guy who resigned as pastor from his church in Seattle took the corporate way out, not the Christian way . . .

Something about a few lessons we can learn from some guy who resigned as pastor from his church in Seattle . . .

Something about what some guy who resigned as pastor from his church in Seattle teaches us about being a pastor in the digital age . . .

Something about church properties now for sale in the wake of some guy who resigned as pastor from his church in Seattle . . .

Something about questions that are being raised about church governance in the light of some guy who resigned as pastor from his church in Seattle . . .

[Continue reading...]

How I Became a… (Quiet) Charismatic

Today we continue our series on “How I Became a…”. Last month I discussed how I had become a Theistic-Evolutionist. Two weeks ago I told my story of becoming an Arminian. Today we are continuing the series by looking at how I … [Continue reading...]

iMonk Classic: How My Wife’s Catholicism Has Changed Me For The Better: A Birthday Reflection

First posted in September, 2008. I got some nice things for my 52nd birthday. A new iPod. (Blue, 4th generation Nano. Be envious.) A book of Benedictine Daily Prayer. (I’m figuring it out.) Birthday cake (Oatmeal. Mmmm) with my … [Continue reading...]

Jeff Dunn: Crossing Over

This was first posted in August, 2013. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, NIV) Nevertheless I … [Continue reading...]

Damaris Zehner: The Crossroads

First posted in June, 2011. Last month, at Easter, my family and I joined the Catholic Church.  Each of us would phrase our reasons for doing so somewhat differently, but here are a few of mine.  I offer them not to preach or … [Continue reading...]

Jason Stellman: I Fought the Church and the Church Won

Note from CM: This week we are featuring stories of friends who found their way into the Roman Catholic church. The post-evangelical journey takes many different forms, and this is one of them. Michael Spencer himself experienced … [Continue reading...]

Prayer for Our Friend

Dear Internet Monk friends, I received the following update from Jeff Dunn the other day. With his permission I share it with you in order to encourage our prayers together. Well, about a month ago I woke up with congestion in … [Continue reading...]

Saturday Ramblings: Oct. 11, 2014 (Beatitudes edition)

We're going to take a little more serious tack on Ramblings today. To guide us, we'll organize our thoughts using several of Jesus' pronouncements in the Beatitudes. Blessed are those who mourn . . . Here, in a nutshell, is … [Continue reading...]