Several weeks (or probably more like months) ago I received the book "Viral: How Social Networking is poised to ignite revival" by Leonard Sweet as part of the Blogging for Books program that I am a part of through WaterBrook and Multnomah. So I'm finally getting around to reviewing this book.
I have to say this is probably the 15 or so book that I have read by Sweet. He is a machine when it comes to writing books, and probably puts out maybe 4-6 books a year. I have enjoyed reading his stuff before and figured I would enjoy Viral.
2 Things that I have to say before getting to the book is that:
1. Sweet does his research (or has a great team to do it for him). Almost every book that I have ever read comes with a ton of quotes, citations, and notes. Highly footnoted, studied, and researched.
2. Sweet loves his acronyms. (I believe that is the right word). First there was EPIC (Experiential, Participatory, Image Based, and Connected). Then there was MRI (Missional, Relational, Incarnational) and now in Viral it is TGIF (Twitter, Google, iPhones/iPads/iPods, and Facebook).
Sweet breaks down his book by the acronym TGIF. So the book is broken down into 6 sections looking at social networking in relation to Twitter, Google, iPhone, and Facebook. The first section is on Social Media as a whole and the last is wrapping up the book, the 4 in the middle are focused on one type of social media/networking. Sweet does a great job of connecting current technology and the possibility of both good and evil coming from our usage of the technology. He also advocates for the usage of the technology to further the Kingdom, the church, and to spread the good news of Jesus.
He also puts humans into two camps (though he also says that it is possible that your age doesn't truly define what camp you are in). Those two camps are Gutenbergs and Googlers. (Several places in the book he gives "tests" to see which camp you fall into).
Overall I enjoyed the book, though I didn't really gain anything new regrading social media, just helpful reminders. I try to spend time using Twitter, Facebook, my iPhone, and our website to further the Kingdom and share about Jesus and Veritas. I was again reminded just how important an on-line presence is these days, and am thankful that we have one (though I am sure we could do alot better by developing a social media strategy)
Here are some quotes that I found helpful in the book:
"They (meaning Googlers) believe there is more truth in relationships than in propositions."
"if you have the right theology but aren't reaching people and aren't in relationship with your culture, what does it profit a pastor or a church?"
"Christianity is and always has been a religion of incarnation. It puts on flesh and blood."
"New media creates new problems along with new opportunities. Shane Hipps riffed on Marshall McLuhan like this, 'No technology is neutral. Every technology has an innate bias, and it will use you. Once you become aware of its bias, you can use it."
I believe social media and networking can be helpful in the spreading of the Kingdom but it can also hinder it in many different ways. I guess my hope for Veritas and my own use of social media can best be spelled out by this quote from St. Teresa of Avila: "Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion looks out on the world, yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now."