Looking the part.

From Q:

We all feel it, sense it and see it. Everything in popular culture – from entertainment to advertisements – pushes us to be something we aren’t. This creates an unspoken tension for followers of Jesus who are called to presence, honesty and authenticity. How can Christians promote depth and character in a society that thrives on hype? Jason Locy and Tim Willard, coauthors of Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society, challenge us to strive for a more meaningful existence.

  • Watch their whole talk, “End Veneer” [17 min] at Q Portland 2011
  • Read the book, Veneer

Connected: becoming obedient by cultivating intimacy.

For many of us, the changing tide of the economy heaves us into the search for meaning, for the eternal. And in this search, we find Jesus having dinner with his closest friends hours before his death. During that dinner, we see a mysterious breaking of bread and drinking of wine. Two thousand years later, he calls us to that same dinner, in remembrance of him. And so we partake. The sacrament beckons us into the blessedness of following after him. “I am the true vine,” he says. And we are his branches. “Abide in Me, and I in you.” (John 15:1, 4 NASB)

When we partake of Christ through the bread and the cup, it’s as though we inhale him into our very being, carrying him around with us, his presence powering our lives. He says that if we don’t abide in him, we will be like the branches that don’t produce any fruit; they’re cut away and burned, useless, meaningless.

Apart from Christ, the world is meaningless. Apart from Jesus, we are nothing. We can do nothing. “Abide in me,” he says. “See the world from a new perspective.” But
how do we abide?


Kierkegaard helps us understand what it means to abide. He tells the story of a couple in love. The girl, seeing that her relationship with her beloved could be facing obstacles, asks him to wait for her. And he does. But what happens if the circumstances strain, making the wait too long? What if her beloved moves on? Kierkegaard says that when we cease to be loving, we were never loving in the first place. “For love abides.” (Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love (New York: HarperPerennial, 2009), 281 – 82.)
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Ending Veneer.

My wife Kari has a review of a great new book, Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society. She begins:

Sometimes a book impacts us by introducing something new–ideas, facts, information, thoughts.  The impact is in the novelty or newness, and we’re changed.

Other times a book impacts us because somebody says exactly what’s in our hearts but could never put into words.

I recently read a great book that did just that. It’s called Veneer.

Veneer is about living deeply in a surface society. I read it cover to cover hardly coming up for air, and told Jeff, “I’m not sure if I love the book so much because it challenges me or simply because it says all the things I’d like to say but have never known quite how.”  With grace, humility, wit, and intelligence, Tim Willard and Jason Locy share history, facts, and cultural critique with the aim of a sharp-shooter. And they point at themselves first.

They point out the fact that historically people purchased items for functionality, need, and pleasure. But in the 1500s Queen Elizabeth I recognized the need for a unifying force for her country and decided that she would become that force, so she recreated herself as an icon, a godlike figure that a nation could love and cherish.

In order to do this she lavishly spent, ridiculously spent in order to create an awe and splendor always about her that gave her the aura of a goddess. Naturally, the effect trickled down. The noblemen began that same sort of spending, as she set the standard for nobility all those around her began to follow suit in order to keep up with the social competition within the court.

Trickle, trickle, trickle. We’re doing it today.

Read the rest.

More on this good book in future posts here at the blog. Let’s end Veneer.

Little white illusions.

TechCrunch has a guest post by Semil Shah, “The Illusion Of Social Networks.” An excerpt:

Surely, the benefits of participation [in social media & networks] are well-documented, but there are costs, too. While information is being channeled through these social networks, the fact remains the same illusions created by television have mutated into a stronger strain within social media. While more interesting information gets to us faster, the downside is that the new channels—and, we are all the channels—sometimes unknowingly create “little white illusions” that, over time, compound into something that may or may not reflect real life.

Well, life is full of illusions. And on social networks, those illusions are amplified. Many who broadcast are not who they appear to be. I don’t say this negatively—rather, this is the magic of social networks. All of the tools we have to update our status, to share pictures, to broadcast location, and any other signal empower us all to express ourselves online and (hopefully) eventually help us end up where we’d like to be.

The dark underbelly, however, is that much of the content we consume through these networks are highly subject to illusion. We may get the impression that folks are more famous, powerful, influential, or informed than they really are, or funnier or nicer than they really are. Social networks naturally concentrate and amplify particular voices, no matter whether those voices are right or wrong. We’ve all at one time at least fallen prey to these false signals, myself included, further fueling the engine of social networks.

Reminds me of part of first half — on the “language of culture” — in Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society, by Tim Willard and Jason Locy. More from that book in future posts.