I leave for Italy in a few days and I’m having difficulty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about the trip and slowly but surely feeling ready to leave, but this is the first international trip I’ve taken where I have had an unlocked phone with which I can do as I wish. As such, my normally satiated need for technology is in a state of flux unlike any time previously. How much do I want to be able to do with my phone while we are gone? And how much do we want to be dependent on it in each city?

Lexi and I have basically answered these questions for ourselves already and if you’d prefer not to read the rest of this post, the short answer is that we will not be using our phones for much while abroad. However, as I know a lot of people deal with these questions or other similar ones often, I thought I would share my thoughts on our decisions and why we decided what we have about the role of technology in our trip. I also wanted to take this opportunity to mention that Lexi and I will not be posting pictures or otherwise sharing our experiences until we get back to the states. In addition, I will not be posting to the blog for two weeks, so this post is a admission of guilt that I will be radio silent for the better part of three weeks.

My first trip to Italy was when I was in high school, it was with my family, and we did not have cell phones with us due to the relative lack of mobile coverage and a relative lack of need. None of the people that we would normally talk to wanted to deal with long distance calls anyway. Of course, we got along great. I kept a journal of what we did, we had many great memories of the trip, and we took pictures with a SLR camera that has been in the family since early in my parent’s marriage. In other words, the digital world had nothing to do with us and we had no way to share what was going on during the trip, so we experienced it all the more fully.

The upcoming (three days away now) trip is different in only one way: my journalling and camera shots will be done with an iPhone. I still plan to take lots of pictures and remember the trip well, but I do not intend to share the memories until I get home. I also intend to take those photos as a photographic journal of our time, attempting to document the most important memories. However, disconnection is not (and never will be) a bad thing. In disconnecting, my wife and I will be able to truly experience the sights and our time together. As with the previous trip, I am sure that we will have just as much fun (and possibly more) without the need to be on top of the news back here.

Nevertheless, I have been collecting points of interest in my phone on offline maps that we will be able to use while there. Hence my struggle. Each time I pull my phone out of my pocket, my first thoughts will be to check Twitter, Email, etc, things I will be unable to do while there, so the purpose of the phone becomes basically moot. As such, I want to use it even less, pushing the temptation as far from me as possible.

There is something to being able to keep things to yourself that I have been attempting to cherish more and more recently. The sounds of silence and the enjoyment of those around you, especially given this time of Advent and Christmas, leave me with a sense of self on which I must focus for the betterment of who I am in various ways. Why must I feel compelled to share every moment of my life with strangers, when all the people for which I care know where I am and want me to be having fun? Some of those people would even be angry with me if I were to call them while there, no longer because of a long distance call but instead because they have the expectation that we will be so enwrapped in the trip that they are the last things on our mind.

A lot has happened in the world since I started designing this site and writing on it, some for the better and some not. In what I can rest assured is the fact that for the next two weeks, I don’t have to care about any of it. The idiocy of the world can wait until I get back from what is sure to be yet another blowout trip with my wife.

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The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.