Theology of Steemit Series: Article 1 - Introducing the Series

in #steemit4 years ago (edited)

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What is this all about?

Article after article exists on Steemit exploring the technical aspects of Steem, the blockchain, and the forces at work throughout our world that are in play that influence the developments in blockchain technology. These are great! They serve as a primer to the possible shape of the future into which we are taking the first steps. They explain STEEM… They explain SBD’s… They speak to the developments of the various apps that are either deployed or about to be deployed to build value within this ecosystem we have all come to explore and enjoy.

What I don’t see so often though are articles exploring one of the aspects that has me personally interested in these technologies. The human dimension…

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It is the simple reality that all of these technological developments are implemented by humans, motivated by humans, and even valued by humans meaning that it is the human element within the advent of these technologies that may just be the common thread that runs throughout that ultimately decides how these techs will evolve and to what ends they will ultimately be applied. When we think together about the future of STEEM, I would hold that it is the human dimension that plays perhaps the most significant role in shaping that future.

Humans and our behaviors are influenced by a whole host of factors, some easier to account for than others. Faith and by extension theology is one of the most historically potent factors that has influenced and shaped human interactions throughout history. (For both good and ill I might add...)

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I am not a technician, I am a theologian by training. I am passionate in studying and examining how humanity is influenced by its faith commitments. Behaviors, values, and even failings have a great deal to do with one’s faith. Since perhaps the dawn of time, some of the most significant developments in world cultures have been shaped for both good and ill because of the motivations people found from within the faith they held. It is my contention that this hasn’t in fact significantly changed to this day for it is the values, priorities, life goals, sense of purpose, and for those for whom this is a “thing” perceptions of the divine that shapes human motivations and behaviors. To ignore theology in the advent of blockchain technologies is to turn an enormously blind eye to influences that at the end of the day has tremendous power in the lives of the people these technologies are being created to serve.

This series which I am calling the “Theology of Steemit” will take various aspects of the Steemit community and examine them from within a theological framework to see how it is the human aspects of this endeavor that may just be the key to whether ultimately Steem becomes something of tremendous impact, living up to lofty goals, or falls into disarray through the forces that, just as in real life, have incredible power to derail, diminish, and even destroy things that have the best of intentions behind them.

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The framework I will apply will be consistent from within a Christian perspective for that is where I “hang my hat.” In no way am I here to tell you what to believe or even think, nor am I claiming that my thoughts on the matters I present are to be the definitive word from within the Christian worldview. My attempt here is to give you a glimpse of what within Christian circles might be called “applied theology” or by another term “moral discernment” in the hopes that these thoughts might be a catalyst to expanding our conversations about what this blockchain is, how it functions, what ends are worth pursuing, and how this community might be strengthened and encouraged in pursuit of something truly good.

What may be at Stake?

I’ve been on Steemit for only 14 days at the time of writing this first article. One of the things that is most striking is how this is a community of pretty deep rifts between:

A) Those who think Steemit is an attempt to encourage creation, curation, and the expansion of human interactions with rewards tied to one’s attempt to expand the value of Steem, the blockchain, and Steemit specifically

B) Those who feel that Steem provides the tools useful to pursue their self-interest and profits with no real need to regard the impact this may create upon the community as a whole.

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This rift strikes me as an incredibly destructive force and a threat to the long term health and value of STEEM. Should it go unaddressed, let alone resolved I am concerned that the community will flounder even more significantly than my preliminary assessments of the community leads me to believe. Unaddressed the creative force and human energy that is the rooting of the value of this particular blockchain effort could be undermined to the point that the technological developments would struggle to overcome the perceptions of those whose interactions within this community have them disillusioned and skeptical of Steem as a store of value.

I am not here to pass judgement, but in the interest of full disclosure I do write from the perspective of one who values deeply the first and questions strongly the long term impact the latter is creating upon the blockchain. In what strikes me as almost counterintuitive, those who are behaving from the principles of the latter are actually undermining the very thing they are using to create their own prosperity, a "suicidal" behavior almost by definition.

Beyond the rift I see, is something more general and perhaps for me personally more exciting! There are lots of creators, and curators, and upvoters who could use encouragement and support in the work they are doing. Perhaps by providing a theological lens through which to view their work and also their interactions with others, I might be able to help in that encouragement which in turn bolsters and strengthens our shared community.

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To the negative edges of our community, perhaps by looking at our own motivations and normative behaviors, there can be a form of “inoculation” developed that would help this organism of Steemit have greater health, wellbeing, and strength.

To the positive aspects of what is already happening on Steemit, I hope to help us together develop a better set of lenses through which the aspects of altruism, grace, mutuality, even compassion become deeply entrenched in our habits and norms, for when these become the foundations of a common life together, STEEM and the community that is working with it becomes stronger and more valuable still.

The articles that will be forth coming in this series, “The Theology of Steemit” will be my attempt to provide you with the framework I use to come to my thoughts, behaviors, and values in regards to what is “good” for this blockchain and what ultimately I think creates value for us all.

Disagree with me all you want… in fact I hope that should you do so, you will comment and help me refine my own thinking. I think we are stronger when we help shape one another.

Why bother with “Theology?”

“Theology” is a word derived from two roots in Greek. “Theos” meaning God. “Logia” meaning utterances or sayings. So theology is literally nothing more than “words about God” or an attempt to reflect upon our world from within an understanding grounded in our “words about God.” These words are for people of faith commitments some of the most significant words that influence and shape the ways we seek to be in the world. These words, furthermore, also serve as a source of corrective for those times when our actions and motivations fall short of the sorts of things our “theologies” call us toward.

Theology when it “lives” in the real world is “practical theology” and it is a major influence in shaping how a person of faith seeks to act, relate, seek justice, interact with compassion, and a whole host of human behaviors which are shaped and molded by these operational theologies.

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In short Theology matters… big time.

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So I hope that this serves as an adequate introduction and perhaps even helps set the stage for what will follow. The articles I’ve already got in mind are:
Upvoting as a “Blessing”
The Act of Creation
Stewarding the Blockchain
Called to Engage
“Curved in Upon Oneself” – Sin in Community
The Graceful "Promoted" Tab - Altruism in Community

Beyond these we will have to see… I suspect others may come up as we begin to interact on these various ideas and the ideas we find from the Christian scriptures. Throughout, it will never be my intent to tell you what you must believe or what to think, I’m offering my thoughts to encourage you to join me in thinking about the “why” you do what you do.

At the end of the day, each of us will do as we think best… my hope is to expand our conversations around what each sees as “best.”

I hope you will consider joining in the discussions to come.

Peace
@genxrev

Images are from Pixabay - Creative Commons Use 0 permitted - Non Attribution

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And now an ask... if you think this might be the kind of thing the people who follow your blog roll might appreciate interacting around, would you please reSteem this article? One of the hardest parts of getting up and running I'm finding in "Steemit-land" is actually getting information in front of people. If you might be able to help with that, I would be grateful.

Thanks for reading and I really look forward to hearing back from you as the Theology of Steemit series gets rolling forward.

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I think what you are doing here is absolutely wonderful.

For anyone who takes theology seriously, there has to be a theology of the blockchain, just as there has to be a theology of everything which is encompassed and saturated with the Divine—i.e. Everything.

I unexpectedly stumbled across a great Barth passage the other day (weirdly enough, while browsing through some research on the history of the Muslim Mutakallimun) that your philological discussion of “theology” reminded me of:

“God is personal, but personal in an incomprehensible way, in so far as the conception of his personality surpasses all our views of personality.”

It made me think that, if the personal God is truly incomprehensible, then what is there left to say about Him?

Yet, we all have lots to say about God, and the people who understand God the most, seem to be the one with the most to say.

So maybe the journey to comprehending The Incomprehensible Personal God is the whole purpose in the first place, even The the destination can’t ever be reached or even approached, in this life.

In which case, what you are doing here is a benefit to every single one of us on Steemit who have the pleasure if reading your insights.

I look forward to reading your work for a long time to come.

Thanks!

Say @ilt-yodith, have you read Islam Without Extremes - A Muslim Case for Liberty by Mustafa Akyol? That's were I first learned about the Mutakallimun.

I have not, I’ll have to check it out.

The title sounds fascinating but only because for me it seems so commonsensical.

My understanding of Islam (such as I have an understanding) is that the theology on which almost every surviving variant of the faith is based, tends to be overwhelmingly concerned with good relations between all men and between Man and God.

Of course you can take parts of the Quran and the Hadiths and interpret them in a way that can be used to justify horrible violent things.

But no more so than with any other religious Scripture.

The many believing Muslims that have been a part of my life have been, without exception, kind, good-natured, and empathetic towards their neighbors.

And, for various reasons, in many of the situations in which we found ourselves, we all had some arguably compelling reasons to not feel so favorably disposed towards one another .

A common analysis of us Western Christians about Islam is that it has never had a Reformation - a movement to revive the original intent of the founders of the religion after so many centuries of evolution, a movement that would lead millions farther away from the mindset of Wahabbi Islam in Saudi Arabia or the Political Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood. Akyol makes a good case that everything needed for a liberal, or even a Libertarian Muslim mindset is there in the words of the Prophet, and many get-back-to-the-liberal/rational-spirit-of-Islam movements have emerged, such as the Mutazalites, but have been snuffed out or otherwise superseded by Political Islam, and I might add, Western meddling hasn't furthered the cause of a liberal theology.

While I'm not part of that Christian "us" to which you refer, I fully understand what you are saying, and in fact, would take it a step further.

It's my understanding that the various Sufi schools of Islam were around long before what we could all an essentially "retrogressive reformation" of the Salafi, Wahhabi, Deobandi, Muslim Brotherhood etc...movements came around and took the absolute strictest parts of various mainstream Sunni movements, threw some radical politics in there, and churned out a very ahistorical version of Islam.

I don't think Western meddling of any kind has ever furthered any good cause, in any circumstance...ever. So I'm right there with you on that one.

Wow... quite an endorsement of the endeavor.... Now I hope to even come close to living into the endeavor! I'm so glad you will be along for the journey and I really look forward to hearing more from you as this proceeds. Interesting Barth quote... he's always got so much to say. I think you are on to the point that I would want to highlight is that in the journey to comprehending the Incomprehensible Personal God, we are actually the recipients of an all encompassing INVITATION to know God. We are gifted by this invitation by this self-same God. God wants to be known... when I think of the incarnation and Emanuel I think that is truly what God is up to... take the veil away and reveal what God's posture towards us and the creation truly is... God is FOR us. So like a true lover, we are invited into intimate conversation and that becomes the root of all of our theology ultimately. From this invitation then, we find that we are free to explore and speak and seek language to express, even if falteringly and incompletely, our interactions born from this invitation.

“[I]n the journey to comprehending the Incomprehensible Personal God, we are actually the recipients of an all encompassing INVITATION to know God. We are gifted by this invitation by this self-same God. God wants to be known.”

I want to be certain that you know what I am about to say is absolutely genuine and has no relation to either attempting to get upvotes or to be unnecessarily flattering.

I believe that the part of your response that I quoted in this comment, is one of the most beautiful expressions of the relationship between Man and Providence that I have ever encountered.

I truly mean it, to the point where I thought you were quoting Barth, when, to the best of my knowledge, notwithstanding it’s derivation from ideas of other theologians, these are your own unique words.

I’m somewhat enamored with the Song of Songs, because the whole concept of situating the Agapic Love between Man and the Divine within the context of the powerful Eros (in the classical sense of the concept) found throughout Solomon’s Song, is such a powerful way of conveying the inconceivable magnitude at which the Present Deity’s love for humanity and each human exists.

So when you say that this Divine Invitation is an invitation to an intimate conversation like as between two lovers, my heart and my head go straight to Canticles, and it makes it very obvious why such an arguably “out-of-place Love Poem” in a debatably “minor” part of Scripture, has had both a broad and deep influence on so many aspects of the theologies of the Abrahamic Faiths.

Put more simply, I’m fairly certain you have summed up the most important underlying strand woven into every part of our understanding (such as it is) of our position within the Mind of of God Himself. (Or, if that’s too mystical, I can replace “the Mind of God” with “Existence permeated by God’s Essence.”

I’m delighted (and I don’t use the word “delighted”) to know that there is someone in then world who has the incredible ability to convey the types of thoughts that I’m certain all people of Faith feel but can’t quite translate into language.

It's a delight to find someone else who is enthusiastic about the Song of Songs. One book that says so much about God without ever mentioning God. I think maybe I'll go read it again.

I read a great quote yesterday (after I started to re-read Song of Songs and various analyses of it):

The quote essentially says that it’s subtle metaphors accomplish massive tone-shifts “between the gaiety of bliss and the despondency of infidelity.” For the example, “it leaps seamlessly from the ecstasy of [Passover] night to the crisis of faith six days later on the banks of the Reed Sea.”

And it does all of this with only hints as to its larger metaphorical meaning—making the revelation of its deeper meaning after a repetition of reading that much more mind-blowing.

Remove all the metaphorical connotations, and even just on the surface, as a pure love poem, it still ranks up there as one of the greats.

With the multiple layers of metaphor and deeper meaning...it’s realky a no brained why it’s called the Song of Songs.

Hey, @genxrev,

This sounds like a fine foundation for your new series. I look forward to reading more entries.

Reflecting on what you've said thus far, Steemit is an incredibly diverse community, and perhaps blessed for now with somewhat of a youthful vigor. The chasm you've referred to could be viewed in a secular sense as the approximate 80/20 split between men of good will and sociopaths.

Because of the tremendous potential for good, my feeling is that the well-meaning majority will, over time, develop appropriate distributed means to deal with those here who are strictly self-interested.

I have personally thus far (about 1.5 years) found an abundance of benefit, both real and potential. I've discovered and befriended people remotely who I would love to and hope to meet one day in "real life." I've been encouraged and stimulated to unleash some latent creativity that had been languishing for years. I've even garnered some literal financial benefit, and seen others do so as well.

Steem on, my friend. ;)

😄😇😄

@creatr

Thank you @creatr for your feedback here. I share your general optimism that over time those of good intent and will, will ultimately find effective means to mitigate the less helpful dynamics. I suppose my hope is that by doing this theological work, I can for those willing to entertain such things provide an additional reflective tool to strengthen the case and community's resolve to pursue Steem / Steemit as something that isn't just a potential good, but increasingly becoming with our commitments an actualized good for many and many more yet to come.

I'm with you in finding an abundance of good as well... though my sample of 14 days pales to your 1.5 years! I've certainly enjoyed my time and meeting with folks like yourself and many others. It is possible that in this write up I place too much emphasis on the "rift" I've seen when in truth what I really hope to spend more time on is the second which would be the encouragement and cheering for those who are working and creating and interacting and creating an experience that I know already for me personally feels like a new home online.

Love your insight and encouragements.

and right back at'cha - "Steem on my friend."

Hey Rev. it's great to see another theologian come on board. Looks like you hit the ground running! And welcome to the beautiful Pacific NW. Hope your time in our fair state is the best ever.

Just curious, did you happen to make it to Wittenburg for the 500 year anniversary of Luther posting his 95 Theses? If you did I might have seen you there without knowing it.

BTW, I was raised in Shelton, attended PLU, and graduated from UW, not far from your neck of the woods.

I'll be sure to resteem this post. Looking forward to your thoughts on the theology of steemit.

And just for fun, did you know that theology means "the study of God"? Logos means in a number of places "thinking", like in logic, or "intent" in Acts 10:29, or the Logos of John 1:1, which is the Plan of God. "All things were made through the Plan."

Heya Kirby... thanks for the welcome. I didn’t make it over to Wittenburg, something about “time, money, and life”but would have thoroughly enjoyed it. I appreciate your comments on Logos and the connections it has to “study of.” I did know these but I wanted to focus on the idea of “sayings/utterances”as I think this more broad connotation creates a potentially broader invitation to participate by a wider body. Sadly I find in this day “Theology”as the study of God is often relegated to the realm of the specialists or highly trained... I’m hoping to create a wider conversation based In the reality that most everyone has things they can share and relate to based in their own experiences of God and scriptures. It’s not to dismiss in any way the “study of” part of logos especially when one begins to connect that in the Greek philosphical underpinnings of the word, one almost certainly comes to see that “sayings /utterances”are almost always an exploration of truth and reality... the very thing that “study”means for us today.

Maybe a long way of saying I’m hoping to capture a bit of a “both and”rather than an “either or” that will prove accessible and useful for folks irrespective of their personal point of entry. Will I succeed... hell I don’t know, but I hope so. ;)

Great to make your acquaintance and I look forward to more to come!

And just cause I’m curious... do you still hang with the Lutheran-type Christian folk or do you tend to hang out with other types? Makes no never mind to me, I’m just always curious where folks see themselves in the “choir.”

I guess if I could put a label on where I hang, it would be with Progressive Liberals. Kind of refreshing after 30 years as an Evangelical theologian/apologist.

I was at one time investigating the Charismatic movement within Lutheranism, about the time I happened to make a trip to Minneapolis which was the epicenter of the movement with the likes of a Lutheran pastor by the name of Pfotenhauer. Even contemplated becoming a Charismatic Lutheran pastor, until I realized that if I had my way, there wouldn't be much Lutheran about it LOL! Liturgy has never been meaningful for me.

Lately my passion has been to share theology that unites Christians and Muslims as members of one historic Abrahamic faith. Would love to at some point establish a local body of believers who draw from the wisdom of the 3 monotheistic faiths, with a concerted effort to get at what the founders were all about before their respective leaders steered the faithful in directions never intended by the founders.

BTW, you didn't miss much in Wittenburg. Had more of a feeling of a Farmer's Market or County Fair, but then I didn't get invited to go indoors with the big cheese. Sure enjoyed the hot honey wine on a cold October morning though :)

MMMMmmm I do love me some Mead... warmed and spiced... soo tasty. Interesting to hear your "hatrack" - I hear ya on the liturgy stuff... I'm kind of a mutt that way. I can see parts of it yet useful when really explored, but as a "front door" of faith it probably serves more as a hindrance than most Lutheran-types would feel comfortable admitting.

... all of course in my nearly never to be terribly humble opinion :)

Hello @mysearchisover - I'm an ordained pastor serving from within the Lutheran-types branch of Christianity who also happens to be really fascinated with crypto-currencies in general and increasingly Steem and the way it works around social interactions.

So a long way of saying that "yes" a good chunk of my education and also real life experience has been wrestling with Christian theology and the intersections it has with people's lives.

I don't like how American Christian churches seem to worship the government more than "God". I also wish the American churches would use a fully English bible especially when it comes to the really important names like "God" and "Jesus Christ". Are you familiar with that 666 stuff?

"...American Christian churches seem to worship the government more than 'God'."

Sadly all too true.

I'm another Christian theologian, and you won't find me toadying up to government or giving a pass to the churches that do. Just FYI, in case you might want to see how "the other 2%" of Christianity views the whole guv'mnt thing... ;)

Do you go to a government run/"regulated" 501c3 church?

I don't believe that churches should ever seek government approval. I consider all human governments, as we know them, to be instrumentalities of the devil.

As far as "where I go," I don't "go to church." I meet with God's people.

I don't consider "church" to be an organization in any case, it is a body, a gathering of Christians.

I don't even accept "church" as an appropriate word to describe what is really intended to be an organic gathering of God's people.

I think we could have a more Christian government or at least a much less Satanic one. I like how a lot of the black churches will go against the government and basically endorse politicians like Obama. I don't like how they endorse baby killers like Obama though.

I appreciate your comments, and would encourage you to do more reading on voluntaryism. "Christian government" is really an oxymoron, it makes no sense.

Why?

Jesus himself said this:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." - Matthew 28:18

How much authority? ALL
Where? In heaven only? No, on Earth also!

If Jesus has all authority, how much does that leave for human "government?"

Other than Jesus himself, no man or group of men has any right to rule other men.

Well as a Christian who also happens to be American too, I can't say I fault you for your critique. Sometimes the shoe absolutely fits... thank God not always, but enough that we need to be listening intently when people mirror to us that particular concern. I'm not sure its exclusively American though as I think one could see similar dynamics present in the conflation of church / state power in many different times and places both historical and modern. I'd suggest that it is one of the realms that people have fallen prey to for a very long time... sin kind of does that.

I'd be curious to know what you mean when you say a "fully English bible," I could think I know what you mean, but it would be conjecture and speculation on my part. And as for the 666 stuff, again what aspect of "stuff" are you asking about? I'm familiar with the reference from the book of Revelation, I'm familiar with the numerology that historically underpins it... what is it you are referencing, if I may ask?

And then just because I am curious, do you come from a particular faith tradition? I'm always curious how a person self-identifies...

Peace
Eric

Yes hopefully Trump can lift the gag order in America and then we can try and free churches around the world.

Yeshua and Yahwey had meanings and those meanings weren't Jesus and God. I had a secular bible study class in college and had it explained to me about the importance of the names.

https://steemit.com/steemit/@johnnyyash/is-the-steem-logo-satanic-symbolism

Orthodox very similar to Catholic

Good news, more Christians are flooding Steemit community!

A great information that unleash the potential...

You got a 61.54% upvote from @redlambo courtesy of @genxrev! Make sure to use tag #redlambo to be considered for the curation post!

Hi,
Nice to read about you and you posts and views. I am into steemit from august 2017, I am interested in photography and I am also into crypto trading and investing,I have followed you so you can also follow me. Let us all join hand and work with one common objective to make steemit reach to great height.
Best Of luck
Teenovision

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