Book Review: Posting Peace: Why Social Media Divides Us and What We Can Do About It, by Doug Bursch

I’ve lost track of how many years it’s been since I started following Doug Bursch on Twitter – at least  three, probably more. His threads drew me in because I saw in him an engaging, personable, and consistently positive online presence. I’ve seen Doug interact with consideration, kindness, and good humor toward all, even when confusion and conflict were in the mix. He has given us a trustworthy track record of practicing what he preaches. If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t be reading or reviewing his book about peacemaking on social media.

Posting Peace: Why Social Media Divides Us and What We Can Do About It is well constructed and vividly written. I see Doug’s heart for pastoral care and spiritual formation in how he conscientiously leads us into the difficult terrain that is social media. He presents us with the core problems, carefully defines relevant terms, and summarizes key communication and media theories. He lays out insightful examples – personal, historical, current, biblical – that illustrate both issues and solutions. I especially appreciated seeing how cross-culturally aware and trauma-informed Doug is, as these are core aspects in productive ministries of reconciliation these days.

Doug’s study questions and practical #PostingPeace exercises with each chapter give us a chance to plum our own motives, face our fears, consider customized ways to embrace and embody the better way of Jesus. Posting Peace also keeps in positive tension the needs and challenges in being kind online and not merely “nice” – yet not avoiding conflict, because that often unlocks the way for people to change.

I came away with a strong sense of both the why-for’s and how-to’s of becoming a constructive ambassador of Christ and His Kingdom in the often divisive minefield of social media. The reading experience gave me a clearer picture and concrete ways for how I can do better online in bridging between polarized camps and creating space for those who are opposed. This is a balanced guidebook, full of wisdom for such a time as this, and I highly recommend it!

Disclosure: I received a digital ARC/Advanced Reader Copy and a print book as part of Doug’s launch team.

Posting Peace is available as of today–April 20th. You’ll find links and resources at the InterVarsity webpage.

The InterVarsity Press publisher’s webpage.

Downloadable excerpt of Chapter 1.

Posting Peace Study Guide PDF. Be sure to download the study guide. It’s really well done, dividing the book into 6 sessions of 2 chapters each. “Talking points” summarize each chapter. There are also notes on the practical experiments/experiences to do on social media, and discussion guides.

Doug Bursch’s @fairlyspiritual Twitter handle and #PostingPeace hashtag.

Forthcoming Review: Posting Peace, by Doug Bursch

I am on Doug Bursch’s launch team for his book, Posting Peace: Why Social Media Divides Us and What We Can Do About It. The release date is Tuesday, April 20th. I will post a full review later, but for now will note that I am finding Doug has an easy-to-read style on tough-to-consider topics about what it means to be peacemakers in a polarizing era. Doug’s writing is clear, insightful, and marbled with humor–just like his tweets on his “Fairly Spiritual” Twitter account.

Pre-order now to get it early on after it releases. You’ll find links and resources at the InterVarsity webpage.

The InterVarsity Press publisher’s webpage.

Downloadable excerpt of Chapter 1.

Posting Peace Study Guide PDF.

Doug Bursch’s @fairlyspiritual Twitter handle and #PostingPeace hashtag.

Easter Weekend and the Role of Music as Solace in the Wake of Trauma

In the darkest days of my dealing with destructive impacts of spiritual abuse, music provided a key source of emotional relief and release, and bittersweet beauty. Extended works have the most appeal and the selections changed with situations.

After my first (and one of the worst) situation of abuse, it was Handel’s Messiah. I listened to it so much that I wore out three sets of cassette tapes–which tells you how long ago that was!

Twenty years later, when I was waking up every night in cold sweats, on the verge of screaming from nightmares about church and the abusive pastor, Les Misérables was the go-to source of solace. Some days I listened to “Bring Him Home” repeatedly, tears soaking into tissues. Friends had given me the CDs a few years earlier and thought I might enjoy it. Little did they know how crucial their gift would be to my sanity …

A few years later, it was the entire Lord of the Rings extended movie trilogy (which I watched at least weekly for years) and its massive soundtrack of 11+ hours of music. Soundtracks provide the emotional cues for one’s journey through the movie, and this one is definitely epic!

I’ve watched the trilogy all in one day a few times, but usually it takes a few days to get through it. So I feel a kinship in real time with Frodo and the Fellowship as they trudge through their journeys.

But that’s what enduring and recovering from spiritual abuse was like–a massive, epic struggle where sometimes all you can do is hang in there and hope that someone left a guidewire for you to grab on to, to get out of that almost endless cave of near despair.

Last night I finished a cycle of listening to The Lord of the Rings Complete Recordings. It took a few days. But it felt like finishing was an appropriate way to mark Good Friday, and now to have Silent Saturday for reflection before Resurrection Sunday.

I’m thankful I’m not in the same place I was when LOTR was my go-to way … to focus what little energy I had in the midst of physical exhaustion from spent spiritual reserves.

These movies and music will long be a deep dive into “the ABCs of resilience and recovery” for me–Arts, Beauty, and Creativity that resource and restore my spirit.

Selah.

And on this Easter weekend, may you find for the first time or in a renewed way something of beauty that lifts you up …

Forthcoming Review: The Starfish and The Spirit

I have preordered this new book from co-authors Lance Ford, Rob Wegner, and Alan Hirsch and will be reviewing it soon. I believe this will prove to be an important book for helping us shift our thinking about organic and organizational systems — and especially variations on decentralized systems and movements.

I’ve joined the Starfish Learning Stream and have appreciated their webinars on Exponential. Check out info on the book, podcast, and learning community at the book website. Other links:

The Zondervan publisher’s webpage.

The Starfish and The Spirit Facebook page.

Facebook hashtag [ #thestarfishandthespirit ].

The authors overviewed the book content in webinar episode #1. Their guest for episode #2 was the always insightful Linda Bergquist. She was the professor for the cohort of missionaries and church planters I was in for my Theological Field Education in seminary.

Consider preordering this book and becoming part of the online learning community. It will be worth your investment to be more equipped for church and movement that is more holistic, organic, and collaborative!

The book launches March 30th, and there is currently a Launch Week Raffle for The Starfish and the Spirit for several levels of prizes that include signed copies of the book and a one-hour consultation with Lance and Rob via Zoom. The deadline for raffle entries is this Friday. Here is the link to the entry raffle page.

I’m looking forward to reading, reflecting on, and reviewing The Starfish and The Spirit! I’m getting to know Rob and the important ministry work he’s been doing with teams, church planting, networks, and movements. I’ve followed Alan and Lance for over a decade for their missional and leadership work, and reviewed some of their other books:

UnLeader: Reimagining Leadership … and Why We Must, by Lance Ford (Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2012).

5Q Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ, by Alan Hirsch (2017; published by 5Q).

REVIEW: *What Comes Next? Shaping the Future in an Ever-Changing World. A Guide for Christian Leaders* Nicholas Skytland & Alicia Llewellyn

In What Comes Next?, Nick Skytland and Ali Llewellyn provide us accessible concept frameworks that make the elements of strategic foresight (“futuring”) meaningful and manageable. I find that motivating! Church, ministry, and agency leaders don’t need (or want) yet another book that is too simplistic–cool, but not practical; or too complicated–erudite, but inscrutable. Because navigating current chaos and future uncertainty is too strategic to our congregations and organizations for us to miss the mark on this.

As futurists, Ali and Nick have years of experience applying their professional expertise to help leaders work with relevant principles and practices. They aren’t here to TELL us what our future holds and what to do. Instead, they provide a roadmap that SHOWS us how to figure out what is POSSIBLE and then apply foresight principles in our own context for what is PREFERABLE. I see this as inspiring hope, and hope is an active verb.

While they acknowledge our mixed feelings about things to come and how emotions can hold us back, they help us hearken back to when we were all futurists as children. They use relatable examples of how play, imagination, curiosity, and exploration set the course for things to come. They implant and feed the seed that we can be active shapers of the future instead of passive clay that takes the imprint of whatever may happen. Yes, we really can impact the way things go! But how?

Nick and Ali detail Four Forces that form this main framework in understanding and applying What Comes Next?–purpose, people, place, and technology. This is not just a set of factors, but a system of forces. A system implies more interconnections and interactions among the members, not just a bunch of independent pieces thrown into a set list. So, various intersections among these Four Forces bring out important questions that help us find clarity in our current times, so we can then navigate our own local situations.

And, as they emphasize, “Clarity precedes strategy. ” So, their equipping process facilitates better discussing, discerning, and deciding. Leaders will (1) learn about navigating uncertainty, (2) apply curiosity and creativity to have more “successful failures,” and ultimately, (3) use these experiences for a more positive trajectory in ministry endeavors.

I appreciate how they’ve made this book engaging for people like myself who process information better in pictures more than words. And in fact, they provide elements that connect with a diverse range of ways people learn: theory and story, principles and practices, statements and questions. But then, that makes sense, if we’re to lead a flock or a team, we need a field guide to conducting and compositing a theologically sound “spiritual MRI” on trends and issues that directly affect us, so we can navigate our way forward with hope and confidence, even in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty.

What Comes Next? is definitely is a five-star field guide to equip us as explorers and shapers of our group’s most preferable future!

Note: I received an advance readers copy of this book as part of the launch team.

For more details about the book, see The Futures Framework website.

And be sure to check out the podcast series–several episodes have already been posted and the series will run from January through March 2021.

Continue reading

Two Must-Read Articles on Ravi Zacharias and RZIM, and a Reference Post

The past week, I have been compiling article links and analysis for “Ravi Zacharias and RZIM 2020 Research and Resource Post: Timeline, Links to Articles/Analysis, Nonprofit Reference.” The light for a change of discernment has been dawning for many associates of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), mostly since RZIM released an intermediate report confirming Mr. Zacharias had been sexually abusive to multiple women in spas that he had owned. The horizon is changing, and that compilation may help those who are in the process of understanding and reinterpreting what actually happened–despite earlier denials and deflections about the reported abuses. Continue reading

Redeeming Power / Diane Langberg–The Book I Waited 45 Years for it to be Written!

Redeeming Power by trauma psychologist Diane Langberg is the best book I’ve seen that introduces, equips, and challenges Christian leaders to deal with systemic abuse and historic oppression. Buy it, savor it, share it!

I have survived multiple situations of spiritual abuse by people in positions of power in churches, ministries, and non-profits—starting from my early 20s in the mid-1970s, and going into my 50s in the mid-2000s. I’ve invested much time over the last 15 years processing those destructive experiences and writing about what helped me understand and heal from them, and that supports other survivors. Continue reading

Redeeming Power / Diane Langberg–On Reversing Trauma and Evil

This quote from Dr. Langberg’s forthcoming book struck a chord for me. It’s worth reflecting on in this era of bitter polarization we’re experiencing, for considering what it means to be agents of support/healing instead of agents of abuse/damage.

Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church is available for pre-order. Check out Dr. Langberg’s website or the Brazos Press webpage for additional information about the book plus links to sources for pre-ordering. The book will be released Tuesday, October 20.

This futuristguy post on related thoughts on the significance of being agents of support/healing instead of agents of abuse/damage amplifies why I believe Dr. Langberg’s Christ-centered, redemptive approach is crucial in our times, which are riddled with anger, bitterness, and abuse.

You can follow Dr. Langberg on Twitter.

Facebook, book hashtag: #RedeemingPower.

Twitter, book hashtag: #RedeemingPower.

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Redeeming Power / Diane Langberg–Book Giveaway on Goodread

Enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of *Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church* by Diane Langberg. Drawing/release date of October 20th.

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/308937

A little about the book: Power has a God-given role in human relationships and institutions, but it can lead to abuse when used in unhealthy ways. Speaking into current #MeToo and #ChurchToo conversations, this book shows that the body of Christ desperately needs to understand the forms power takes, how it is abused, and how to respond to abuses of power.

See the Brazos Press publisher’s webpage for details about Redeeming Power, plus links.

You can follow Dr. Langberg on Twitter.

Facebook, book hashtag: #RedeemingPower.

Twitter, book hashtag: #RedeemingPower.

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Redeeming Power / Diane Langberg–Overview Video

I feel privileged to serve on Dr. Langberg’s launch team for Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church (Brazos Press; 2020). It is available for pre-order and the release date is scheduled for October 20th. I believe this book is certain to become a standard resource for vital, Christlike ministry to survivors of all forms of abuse, violence, and oppression. Watch for more videos, excerpts, and reviews on #redeemingpower

Meanwhile, check out this brief video by Dr. Langberg. In just over a minute, she eloquently summarizes themes and purposes of her book, distilled from 47 years serving survivors of abuse, violence, genocide, trafficking. It captures the book’s essence, plus her unique voice of Christlike advocacy for the vulnerable as presented in the Prelude section of her book.

See the Brazos Press publisher’s webpage for details about Redeeming Power, plus links:

  • Overview.
  • Contents.
  • Dr. Langberg’s bio.
  • Endorsements from people representing a wide range of theological, professional, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Downloadable excerpt of the Prelude and Chapter 1 on “The Source and Purpose of Power.”
  • Source options for book pre-order/purchase.

You can follow Dr. Langberg on Twitter.

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