I am a user of Social Media. I use it for personal and "professional" reasons. In fact, in writing this blog post I'm participating in it. After I publish it, I will share news of the post on Facebook and Twitter, and everywhere else my blog shows up. With this morning's post I want to share news of a new book titled Theologians and Philosophers Using Social Media: Advice, Tips, and Testimonials, (SacraSage, 2017), edited by Thomas Jay Oord. This is the second project Tom has instigated in recent months to which I have contributed an essay.
The book is composed of more than ninety chapters, each written by someone who is in some form a theologian or philosopher. These include people like Brian McLaren, Grace Ji-Sun Kim, James McGrath, Richard Beck, Tripp Fuller, Jory Michel, and more. Each writes from within their own field. I am, of course, a hybrid sort. On a scholarly level, I write about church history and historical theology. At the same time, I'm a pastor of a church, and so I'm interested in more "practical" issues of religion. I've just been skimming the book, reading a few of the chapters.
Tom Oord, in editing the book, asked us to respond to six questions, and these questions formed the backbone of each of the essays. The questions dealt with the forms of social media we use, why we chose to use them, surprising discoveries, conceptual breakthroughs, time management (social media is addictive!), three recommendations to scholars. Below are the opening paragraphs of my essay. You'll have to get a copy of the book to read the rest, along with all the other contributions.
We live in the social media age, as demonstrated by the President’s use of Twitter to “communicate” with the masses. I put communicate in quote marks, because there are questions as to the veracity of much that the President shares via Twitter. However, what his tweets illustrate is that in this new age, communication can be immediate and unfiltered. Not only that, but everyone seems to be getting on board the train. Where once scholars could share their ideas in monographs, lengthy articles, and conference papers (all of this still happens, of course), the lure of social media has begun to entice scholars to share their wares more broadly than their immediate colleagues. I count myself among those who have adopted a social media persona.
I engage this social media world as one who is by education and scholarly endeavor a historical theologian and church historian. I have published widely in my field of expertise, which is eighteenth century Anglicanism. I also serve as a pastor of a local congregation, which makes me a practical theologian as well as a historical theologian/church historian. Due to my position in the church, I face a different set of concerns and issues than I would if I were a tenure-track academic. I do not have to publish or perish. As a pastor, I must be a generalist, which may make my engagement with social media easier. After all, on Sunday morning my congregation isn’t interested in an in-depth analysis of Henry Dodwell’s rejection of the legacy of the English Reformation. However, I can bring to a wider audience insights I’ve learned from my scholarly work (even if not in a sermon). With this introduction, I will try to address the connection of scholarship and social media. (p. 79).