Monday, December 3, 2012

NuDunkers, NuMedia

From Toledo, IA 52342, USA
A few days ago, the first NuDunkers public video discussion came together on G+ Hangouts. Here's the hour-long video of the conversation, which basically covers how NuDunkers came together and what our hopes and prayers are for this project...

Andy, Dana, and Josh have all posted their reflections of the first meeting, so make sure to go check those out. The only bit I'll add to what they've already said has to do with our use of G+ Hangouts, our blogs, and the Twitter hashtag: #NuDunker.

As Josh said of the NuDunkers project, "There is no hiding behind ivory towers or back rooms" - but there's also no hiding behind print magazines or journals that you have to have a paid subscription to. I'm not disparaging those media (indeed, I'm happily serving on the governing board for the Brethren Life and Thought journal), but in this day and age they're not enough, and institutional media centers of the Church of the Brethren have been extremely slow to figure that out. So as I said in our discussion, rather than just complaining about it (as I've done in the past), I want to see NuDunkers model substantive, generative, and faithful use of these new online social media. One way to see this project, then, is as a media production project. We want our work to be a resource for the broader church.

Next, on the question of authenticity and relationship. We are not here authoring quasi-anonymous blogs, taking advantage of what Shane Hipps has called the illusion of "intimate anonymity" of the web. Such approaches make it far too easy to adopt the combative, antagonistic stance that is all too common on the web, and not virtuous from a Christian standpoint whatsoever. No, these are our real names, our real faces, and as real of conversations as we can get in online media. As Matt McKimmy, pastor of Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren and our guest in the hangout, mentioned at the end of the hangout - the relationality of this project and our conversations is key. The form of our project is just as important as the content. In fact, the two are finally inseparable and attending to both with intentionality is crucial.

Next, we are trying to make NuDunkers as open and transparent as possible, though of course there are still "fences" around it. Our hope, though, is that these fences have many gates and welcome mats on each. One way to keep this project rather open is eschewing the use of a centralized website or even a Facebook group or page. "NuDunkers" at this point exists in the links - virtual and embodied - between the folks you see above. This is a mesh/web network approach which in many ways, I think, is more organic than an approach that would mimic bureaucracy and hierarchy.

In answering the Who's invited? question in the hangout, I mentioned that it's not so much Who? but How?  "Who" will be answered by whoever within the Brethren tradition is interested in having a new kind of conversation around theology and practical ministry/action and reflection/theory and praxis. That's more of an invitational stance; if you're interested, great - welcome! "How" is perhaps where the more normative things come into play. To that end, I mentioned in the hangout that perhaps the only barrier to entry is a bona fide attempt to embody some fruits/virtues of the Holy Spirit in our discourse - humility, patience, charity - all within and for this instantiation of Christ's body in the world, the Brethren. Lord, may we be faithful in this venture...

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