24) Giving Up "Likes" for Lent | Dr. Arthur Boers (Part 1)

Did you know that we use social media not primarily for the information, but for the dopamine hit of approval - "Likes" and "Favourites?" Mark talks about this and other unsettling things he's been discovering about heavy Facebook and Twitter consumption, and the unexpected benefits he's enjoying after having given them up for Lent. What's Lent? We discuss that, too. Are there forces in our lives that drain us of precious emotional energy, but that we have the capacity to change? Mark thinks that we do, and that it might start with evaluating the toll of social media on our psyche. And it might even start with giving it up for a while to discern just what that toll is.

Then Mark sits down with Dr. Arthur Boers, Chair of Leadership at Tyndale Seminary and author of several books, most recently The Way Is Made By Walking and Living Into Focus. Arthur talk about his upbringing in a Christian Reformed setting and how he was heavily influenced to ministry in a Methodist church in the inner city of Chicago and kickstarted major ecumenical community work there. After that, he gravitated to the Anabaptist expression and now serves as a minster in the Anglican stream. Arthur shares how he was prompted to start hiking and in doing so, his life was never the same - he began to question the habits and rhythms that dominated his life. This led him to walk the entire Bruce Trail in Ontario and then travel to Spain to pilgrimage on the ancient Camino do Santiago.

Next week in Part 2, Arthur talks about his experiences on the Camino and how his further reflections from that experience resulted in his becoming a voice against busyness and for more sustainable living through focal practices. 


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Notable Quotes from Dr. Arthur Boers

"I see teaching leadership as a subset of what I call pastoral theology. I really see myself as a pastoral theologian. So I reflect on leadership from that direction, and my primary experience and education and learning in leadership is from being a church member and being a pastor and being a seminary teacher. So those really affect how I look at leadership."

"There are a lot of resources out there about leadership that I don't care for. And I don't care for emphasizing leaders as stars or as people at the top or people at the front. I believe that all Christians – Jesus says we're all salt and light. So I believe that all Christians are representatives of God's kingdom and so we all give different kinds of leadership."

"People now are starting to talk about the end of leadership and the end of power. That is to say that the old traditional arrangements are breaking down and a lot of the interesting stuff happening is not happening through traditional means of leadership. And you think about the number of the social movements in the last few years – Idle No More, Occupy, The Tea Party… none of them have a clear hierarchical status."

"[My family tragedy] ended up read shaping my faith in fairly significant ways and I'm glad that it did, and it actually ended up making me a better pastor in the long run."

"I realized that the experience around my sister's death and the grief and the suffering helped me to listen to people, because there was a lot of pain in the neighborhood way worse than anything that I or my family ever experienced."

"Our church - for one thing, we were trying to be a community where Latino people and white people can worship together, so that was pretty impressive. And we worked at making our service bilingual for example and we were teaching Latino people how to lead worship and work with sermons and Bible studies.... We started Habitat for Humanity in the neighborhood which was the first time as far as we could tell in 100 years that an ecumenical project had been started in the neighborhood. Because we had Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Catholics on that project and we didn't know of any other precedent like that in the neighborhood. And we did fairly basic bandage stuff too. We gave out food, we helped people find jobs, or we helped them find cars to get to their jobs."

"At first, it was just sort of determination - that if I say I'm going to do something, I do it; if I put something on my list to have to check it off. But what I gradually came to see was that the long-distance hiking was raising all kinds of questions for me. So I started thinking of our cities are arranged for example. I started thinking of why I drove everywhere. I started wondering about how far the grocery store was that I went to for milk that I always drove to and maybe I could walk there instead. And so I started having questions like that, and I also started to realize that the long-distance walking was really deeply satisfying and that in many ways what happened to me while I was walking was the same as when I went on retreats. I would feel the stress drift away, I would relax, I would start to reflect on my life, I would start to pay attention to things that maybe I hadn't noticed before. If there were places in my life where I was going off course and start to figure out what those were and make resolutions about doing something differently. And so that's really the process that happens to me most of the time when I go on retreats, and I thought, 'That's interesting that this would happen while I'm hiking and at the same time there are all kinds of benefits!'"

"I thought, 'Wow! For me, long-distance walking is a spiritual practice!' And then I started feeling sorry for myself because I thought, 'Christians don't know that it's a spiritual practice.' And so I had that for about 5 or 10 minutes and then I thought, 'Oh! Oh! Pilgrimage!'"


Next Week's Episode 25

Guest: Part 2 of Arthur Boers, author, minister, professor