The 10th Day of Christmas

Tim Welch, diocesan consultant for educational technology, shares 10 “Tech Commandments” which help us “reflect on ways that will characterize us as Christian technology users.”

God is with us!

We have been immersed in the sights and sounds and smells and tastes of a holy time when we, once again, ponder the wonders of a God who loves us so much that:

he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  –John 3:16

Our response to this great love is conversion, the continual turning away from self-centeredness, and turning toward the life of other-centeredness that Jesus taught us. This is as true as ever in our age of high technology and social media.

The Ten Commandments help us do that. (see Deuteronomy, Chapter 5, at http://www.usccb.org/bible/dt/5:22) They were given to the Israelites in the midst of their desert journey, where God was doing everything possible to save them and convince them how much he loves them. The Ten Commandments provide some concrete direction in entering into that love relationship. It is significant that some of the commandments refer to a right relationship with God, while the others guide us in our relationship with our neighbors. Clearly God not only loves us, but wants us to share that love with each other.

On this Tenth Day of Christmas, it may be helpful to revisit the Ten Commandments through the lens of new developments and technologies. For example, the USCCB has a resource entitled “Ten Commandments for Drivers.” The description reads, “Those who know Jesus Christ are vigilant on the roads. They don’t only think about themselves, and are not always worried about getting to their destination in a great hurry. They see everyone as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God. This is the attitude that characterizes a Christian driver.”

Christmas is a time to see everyone as brothers and sisters again, and God as the loving God of us all. It can be a time, especially if we received new electronic gifts, to review our use of computer/mobile technology through the eyes of a people in communion with God. I offer the following to help us reflect on ways that will characterize us as Christian technology users:

Ten Tech Commandments

  1. Thou shall know that God is present everywhere, even online.
  2. Thou shall use technology to proclaim the Reign of God.
  3. Thou shall pray in your heart, “Oh My God” with love and sincerity whenever you see “OMG”.
  4. Thou shall bookmark a Gospel, or perhaps set www.usccb.org/bible/readings as your home page, and regularly read a passage slowly, deeply, and with reflection.
  5. Thou shall involve spouses and/or parents in online activities like social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
  6. Thou shall show respect for others in all online comments.
  7. Thou shall not make up online identities, for God loves YOU.
  8. Thou shall not bully.
  9. Thou shall not look at inappropriate images, but instead spend time consuming media that draws you closer to God.
  10. Thou shall not hack or spam; nor enable others to do so by responding to online messages/email from strangers or using weak passwords.

As I formulated the ‘Tech Ten’, I couldn’t help but think, “Gee, if we but loved God and each other, these would naturally happen. As much as the specifics help give some direction, I really appreciate Jesus’ wisdom when he reminded us to simply but deeply, “…love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (http://www.usccb.org/bible/matthew/22/).”

I wonder what our faith formation students and Catholic school learners would write if we asked them to offer their own “Ten Commandments for Christian Technology Users.” Or maybe we can ask them to come up with “Beatitudes before Booting Up” as they ponder the Christmas Story.

Tim Welch is the Consultant for Educational Technology at Catholic Education Ministries, Diocese of Saint Cloud, MN. With more that 35 years of experience at the parish and diocesan levels, he is continually searching for ways of journeying with others to implement proven technologies that can serve ministry (especially catechesis).

It’s hard to argue with a Story

You can argue with an arguer, fight a fighter, and even kill a killer… but what do you do with a lover?

My apologies to the author of that insightful assertion. If I could remember who it was, I would not only give proper credit, I would ask if s/he minded if I added, “What do you do with a storyteller?”

As the election draws near, the political process is becoming more caustic, filled with arguers, fighters, and even killers. As religious factions continue to harden their hearts toward each other, the God of Love seems to get lost in heated arguments. And as people of different races enter into a renewed tension, our American melting pot seems to be moving toward a boiling pot.

What would happen if we put a moratorium on argumentation and personal attacks in our public discourse and told only stories?

Stories can touch our hearts

To me, the strength of From the Heart: A Catholic Blog for Central Minnesota is in the stories. One that caught my eye as I was pondering this post was the story shared by Deacon Steve Yanish. He told of a dying woman:

Just before she breathed her last breath, her face lit up and practically glowed.

It reminded me of a 16 year old in a parish where I worked. She was dying of a lung disease. Those present at her death shared the story of how she sat up, looked at herself, particularly her arms, and said, “Isn’t it beautiful?” as if she were admiring a heavenly gown. She lay back and passed away.

I am also reminded of the last words of Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and a man accustomed to some of the greatest wonders and beauty humans can create. He said, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

Surely one could dispute the interpretation of the stories, or the existence of an afterlife, or a particular image of life after death… but these stories offer a chance to pause and ponder what comes next in our life’s journey instead of entering into a heated debate.

In our media driven culture, creating a story delivery system is easier than ever, and can reach more people than ever. To have our stories get heard amid the din of Internet chatter, we need to learn a tool or two, give ourselves permission and time to play and practice, and then share the stories that touch our hearts.

After all, Jesus told stories that still touch our hearts.

A tool to explore

One tool to explore is Adobe’s Spark Video, formerly called Adobe Voice. Sign up for a free account using your computer or the iPad/iPhone App, gather some photos, choose an adobe theme and maybe some background music, and tell a story. Or maybe start with a story and a prayer. Gather your friends or family, take some photos of preparing and eating your next meal, and tell the story of love around the table in photos as the Prayer Before Meals tell the story of gratitude. It would be one way to share faith and love, and who can argue with that?

This Spark video was created in minutes. I added the voice, chose photos from Adobe’s copyright safe curations, and uploaded one I adapted from Morguefile, another copyright safe place to find photos.

Tim Welch is the Consultant for Educational Technology at Catholic Education Ministries, Diocese of Saint Cloud, MN. With more that 35 years of experience at the parish and diocesan levels, he is continually searching for ways of journeying with others to implement proven technologies that can serve ministry (especially catechesis).
Tim Welch is the Consultant for Educational Technology at Catholic Education Ministries, Diocese of Saint Cloud, MN. With more that 35 years of experience at the parish and diocesan levels, he is continually searching for ways of journeying with others to implement proven technologies that can serve ministry (especially catechesis).