Recently I became a tweeter. I posted my name on Twitter purely for the purpose of engaging with other “tweeple” who are interested in developing emerging leaders in the Christian church.
Twitter is a three-year-old social-media tool that’s having a profound effect on society from politics to social awareness, from news to celebrity. “Tweets” are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers, who are known as “followers.”
Desiring a sense of profundity, I created my own Twitter account, customized my profile, and managed to write a 140-character personal update of my status. I then set about finding people who had some “tweet-cred” in the subject I was pursuing. I sought out authors whom I had been reading—Malcolm Gladwell, Donald Miller, and Andy Stanley. I searched for organizations of which I was a member, such as the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Alban Institute, and Habitat for Humanity. I hunted down key names of the past: John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, and Jonathan Edwards. Finally, I added a few sources of interest just to keep the conversation current.
After one hour of inquiry, I had amassed a library of names and organizations who gladly accepted my request to follow them, but also asked if they could follow me. Twitter is usually a two-way tweet.
I soon realized the blessing of this effort as I received status updates from all the people, organizations, and events I was following. In real time, my contacts told me where they were focusing their immediate attention. I pursued their interests and then shared (re-tweeted) the information with my fellow tweeps.
Twitter has turned us into publishers and distributors of media from videos to blogs to social commentary—all with little or no overhead. In other words, we have become virtual birds of a feather who have e-flocked together.
(If you’re looking for a perch alongside birds of a similar ilk as yourself, you might like “The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter,” an Internet post by Michael Hyatt (michaelhyatt.com) and Twitter Tips, Tricks and Tweets, a book by Paul McFedries (Wiley).)
by Jacqueline Kelly reviewed by Sandy Swartzentruber
To the townsfolk of Fentress, Texas, 11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia Tate is an enigma. She can’t sew or cook, and she doesn’t have the graces a young lady should have in 1899. What she does have is spunk, smarts, and loads of curiosity. When Callie “discovers” her cantankerous grandfather and his backyard laboratory, the world opens up for her—but is her world ready for a female scientist? In this debut novel, Calpurnia Tate joins the ranks of Jo March, Caddie Woodlawn, and Laura Ingalls Wilder to the delight of tomboys everywhere. The theme of Calpurnia’s “evolution” does include a nod to Darwin; he is quoted at the start of each chapter. Ages 9-12. (Henry Holt & Co.)
reviewed by Ron DeBoer
According to the iMinds website (iminds.com), each year we spend 3,960 minutes cutting the grass and 2,555 minutes trying to fall asleep. The site boasts that iMinds, a tiny MP3 player with headphones, was born for these moments. So I ordered one. The player came with 76 eight-minute “bursts of knowledge” about topics ranging from the Bermuda Triangle to the life of Andy Warhol to the history of the New York Yankees. Additional bursts of knowledge can be downloaded from iTunes. With professional voiceovers and fitting background music, mowing my lawn has never been so educational.
by Mark J. Allman reviewed by Wayne Brouwer
Jesus is both conquering King and Prince of Peace. How do Christians understand the incessant human tendencies toward war and attempt to be peacemakers, while holding citizenship in militarily-engaged societies? Allman’s summary of the three major theological responses to war (pacifism, holy war, just war) are extremely clear and concise, balanced, and informative. This would be a great book to study in a church group—and certainly can be read with enormous profit by any thoughtful Christian. The author pushes no political agendas, while he does offer criteria for evaluating public decision making. (Anselm Academic)
by Paper Route reviewed by Robert N. Hosack
Nashville-based quartet Paper Route’s Absence is a paean to 1980s electronic rock, but one which provides a unique balance of the electronic and organic. With roots at Greenville College (Illinois), this is Paper Route’s first full-length album. The ’80s bands New Order and Joy Division are clear precursors to this group’s melodic, emotional synth-rock sound that pulses with an ambient undercurrent. Contemporary band comparisons range from Elbow to Coldplay. Absence is a dance-pop record that combines heart-wrenching, lush, and moody arrangements with deeply spiritual lyrics that wrestle with life’s myriad miracles and mysteries. (Universal Motown)
by Eugenia Kim reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema
From 1915 to 1945, Najin, daughter of the respected calligrapher Han, suffers along with her Korean countrymen under Japan’s escalating domination. As she experiences suffering at the hands of the oppressors, she questions her mother’s Christian faith, even while longing to embrace it. Though raised by her parents to embody the womanly virtues of decorum, quietude, and acceptance, Najin forges her own unique path and learns to accept her faith struggle, “rather than to deny or pretend.” (Henry Holt)
A Stout Faith
In The Search for God and Guinness, Stephen Mansfield recounts the story of Guinness beer, founded centuries ago by Arthur Guinness as he worked to serve God and his fellow human beings. (Thomas Nelson)
Unleashing the Word, by Max McLean and Warren Bird, is a book and DVD combination intended to train church leaders for reading the Bible aloud in a more powerful way. (Zondervan)
The new children’s-book-turned-movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs moves into your region on DVD and Blu-ray this month. (Sony)
Not So Blue
Bluegrass band Blue Highway is celebrating 15 years of togetherness with their anniversary album Some Day, featuring past favorites and new tunes. (Rounder Records)