Judgment and Grace of Strangers

My Christmas column in the Christian Courier.

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It is one thing to be rebuked for something you’ve done. It is quite another to be rebuked by a complete stranger.

I was in line for a coffee at Second Cup in downtown Montreal – and was checking my phone as I came to the counter. I started to order a small, dark roast, but the guy at the cash paused for a moment, waited to get my full attention, and then said: “I wish we could go back to the days before those phones, when we could have some human contact.” Oof. The feeling of embarrassment and shame was immediate for me. What was I thinking!?

And just to be clear, this wasn’t some cranky baby boomer objecting to smart phone reality in general (we tend, mistakenly, to associate grumpiness with the older set). No, this was a twenty-something guy who was tired of serving coffee to people who wouldn’t even look at him. Continue reading

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gospel and the gazette: postsecret

I suspect that many or most of us here this morning have never heard of PostSecret.

PostSecret had its beginning in 2005 and was created by a man by the name of Frank Warren. Back in January of 2005, Frank Warren created this project by sending 3,000 self-addressed stamped postcards to people – and he asked those people to write a secret on the postcard, anonymously, and mail it back to him. Also, the idea was that the person would decorate the blank postcard in a self-expressive way or in a way that related to the theme of their secret. So Frank Warren sent out these hundreds of postcards, and then he starts getting them back – hundreds of anonymous secrets shared on personally crafted postcards.

Not too long after he started receiving the postcards from people, Warren also established a website on which he would put up the postcard images and their secrets. From there the whole thing snowballed. Every Sunday, for almost 6 years now, Frank Warren has put up 10 or 20 new postcards with their secrets. The rules he lays out are simple: You can share any secret as long as it is true, and as long as you have never shared it with anyone before. You’re supposed to keep it simple – only one confession per postcard. Continue reading