One of the bloggers for, jpmmcbride, just published an article titled, "3 Reasons Social Media Ruins the Outdoors." As you are probably aware, social media is a topic that I am quite passionate about and spend a lot of time thinking about. Here was my response to John:

Hey John, thanks for the great post! This is an interesting question, and I think it’s an important discussion to have. However, I disagree with you on most of your points.

For points #1 and #3, I think it depends largely on the attitude of the people posting and viewing on social media. Posting your adventures doesn’t have to be narcissistic, and viewing others’ adventures doesn’t have to create jealousy and anger. Why the heck can’t we just be happy for one another? Also, I’ve found that generally, what goes around comes around: just because I see a Facebook “friend” posting photos while skiing massive peaks in Alaska, BC, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, and everywhere that I might have missed in between doesn’t mean I need to be jealous of him. I just enjoy getting to see cool photos from his experiences… it definitely beats baby photos and crappy memes!

Several months ago Relevant Magazine published an article that made some of the same arguments that you made. I wrote a response that I think responds well to some of the points that you brought up, and I posted it here:

The short version is, I don’t see any reason why we can’t use social media to celebrate the beautiful moments in life. There are so many dull, boring moments, downright dirty, disgusting moments, so many instances of evil and abuse and greed and depression in this world, why can’t we enjoy the beauty of God’s creation? I think the desire to share those moments of beauty with the world with whatever means we have at our disposal is a natural and good tendency, not a bad one.

Now, point #2 is something that I’ve struggled with. In the past, I held strongly to the opinion that you expressed here… but now, when I want to go back and check out photos from those journeys in an attempt to relive them, I don’t have any to look at! While being obsessed with taking photos and capturing the moment can often times ruin the purity of the experience, as I mentioned above I think a desire to capture and share that moment can be natural and good.

My solution to point #2 has been to shoot photos sometimes, but not all of the time. Since shooting photos and writing about my mountain bike experiences is my job, spending time capturing the ride is just a fact of life for me. It puts food on the table. However, I try to look for opportunities to NOT stand around shooting photos for an hour. For instance, I rarely shoot photos on my regular after work rides on my local trails. I ride them all the time and cover them regularly, so I don’t need to really capture that experience every single time. Also, I personally try to avoid taking photos of sports that I’m not getting paid to participate in or document. Right now, that’s skiing for me. When I’m skiing, I can just enjoy the experience and revel in it.

On the flip side, sometimes I still want to capture and share those experiences for the reasons I mentioned above. And to be honest, the rise of the smartphone has made it quicker and less intrusive than ever to grab a few snapshots. But even if I DO grab a few quick shots, spending maybe 30 seconds to do so, I try not to post those photos until I’ve returned home and am back in front of the computer. Taking a snapshot takes a second, but crafting a caption, posting to Facebook, and waiting for the photo to upload via a weak 3G signal takes a lot longer. So, I encourage you to just shoot some shots, and post ‘em later!

Like I said at the beginning, I think this is a great article that should trigger a very interesting and useful discussion. I think it’s important that we think about how and why we use social media, and that we examine its influence in our lives. As you concluded, “Social media is a tool. And just like any other tool, it can be used to create something beautiful or destroy something that was once precious.”
I’ve been hearing a lot of negative talk swirling around the interwebs lately about the basic premise of the social media platform Instagram. Despite the fact that Instagram’s user base is growing in leaps and bounds while some other platforms, such as Facebook, are declining, Instagram still hasn’t reached nearly the massive size that Facebook has. Consequently, how Instagram is used, or better put, how it should be used, is still up in the air.

As a social media professional, I am constantly using these tools, as well as contemplating the ways that the general public uses them and interacts with them. And for some reason, the way Instagram users are using the platform is getting a bad rap lately.

Earlier in the week, I introduced a story -- A story about how my life has been radically changed through a series of intense events that prompted me with the need to find meaning and purpose in life.  Through those events, I was led to make some tough decisions that combined to build the foundation of who I am today, and how I live my life. 

This video is an attempt to express that same message in a different and unique way.  My hope is that this visual aid proves to be an avenue of communication that somehow surpasses the words that I have written, and that it embodies who I am and how I have changed in a practical way...

While it can be said in many Christian circles that I “accepted Christ into my life” at a young age, genuine understanding and real transformation did not occur until my late teenage years. My lifestyle throughout middleschool and highschool was not one that reflected Christ – I was an abusive, scornful individual that was filled with desires for all sorts of things: money, good jobs, relationships, approval, and performance in sports and academics. Although I would refer to myself as a “Christian”, I was not focused on my faith, and my relationship with God was certainly not my ultimate priority and purpose in life. My mind and character was riddled with pride, pornography, envy, and malice in some cases. While it may sound like an awful lifestyle – and it was – these were all natural products of a life that was enslaved to sin.

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 Click here to read Part 1 of this essay.

In the above argument as detailed by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, only three of God’s characteristics are highlighted: omnipotence, omniscience, and his moral perfection. This is an overly simplistic view of God. People who make these arguments based on this portrayal of his attributes are attempting to put God in a box and confine him to their strict limitations and their personal ideas of who they think he is or who they think he should be. Based on what the Bible says, God is the exact opposite of a being that can be summed up in three short statements. God is infinite, and therefore he is infinitely complex and multifaceted, and he probably has an infinite number of characteristics. Whenever we think about God, we must try our best to consider all of the different aspects of his character. The index of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology lists at least 44 different attributes--and that is still just a partial list (1278). For instance, consider God’s justice. The Bible clearly states that the evil in this world is a result of the fall of man, due to man’s free will. Adam and Eve sinned, and through them all mankind has sinned (Geisler 390). In Romans 5:12 we read, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Holy Bible 1059). Since God is a just god, man is receiving and will receive his just recourse for sin: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) (Holy Bible 1060). As a result of man’s sin, the formerly perfect creation has been indelibly marred. It is no longer the perfect Eden that God first created.

Today is a day that is used to annually commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

As I reflect on that solemn day in history, I cannot help but recognize and stand in awe of the transformative influence that Jesus' life, death, and resurrection has had on history; and, surpassing all other thoughts, the effect that His life has had on eternity.

Even though there are many people that could and will read this that do not believe Christ was and is God, Savior of all, we can all gain a deeper understanding of life, eternity, and history by taking this time to reflect on...

  • Who was Jesus?
  • What was the significance and meaning of Jesus Christ's life and mission?
  • Why did he die?... And why did he die so willingly?
  • How has he impacted history?
  • How has Jesus impacted our lives? (Spiritually, and even culturally)
  • What is the modern significance and meaning of Jesus' life, death, 
  • and resurrection?
  • How does this man named Jesus apply to my life here and now?
Creative Commons Photo Credit.
The problem of evil: it is a topic that has haunted theologians and bolstered the faith of atheists for centuries.

In his introduction to “Nonmoral Nature,” Stephen Jay Gould references this exact problem. For his purposes, he puts a naturalistic spin on it. Gould writes, “If God is benevolent and the Creation displays his ‘power, wisdom, and goodness,’ then why are we surrounded with pain, suffering, and apparently senseless cruelty in the animal world?” (638) Gould then proceeds to defuse “the problem” by arguing that nature is actually “nonmoral.”

As a result, the problem of evil does not apply to nature. In this paper I am going to tackle a grander sense of “the problem of evil.” I will address it primarily as it relates to human pain and suffering in this world.