Tulsa: April 2013 Archives

The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash, no fan of Twitter and social media, wrote the equivalent of about 400 tweets on the subject recently, including an account of his visit to this year's SXSW. There's a Tulsa connection: Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, was on a panel about social media and religion. The late Charles Schusterman was the founder of Samson Energy, and his family's foundation funded OU's purchase of their Tulsa campus, supports efforts to reconnect young Jewish people with the broader Jewish community, and transforming Jewish organizations to be accepting of what the Torah condemns as abominable perversions. Cohen's bio indicates that he did pro bono legal work to block Georgia's implementation of photo ID for voters. I've highlighted Cohen's comments in the passage below.

Evan Fitzmaurice, an Austin-based lawyer and longtime friend who until recently was the Texas Film Commissioner, has attended many a SXSW. He tells me one night over dinner that while he's wired to the hilt ("I've gotta connect to the Matrix"), he sees the downside of perpetual connectedness. "You're truncating natural thought. Things don't gestate anymore. It's instantaneous, without the benefit of reflection. And everything's said at volume 10. Nothing's graduated anymore. It's a clamor." Though not religious himself, he says what I witness at SXSW would be recognized by any religious person. "They're trying to supplant deliverance and redemption through religion with civil religion and technological redemption--the promise of a sublime life on a higher plane."

In one instance, the Twidiocracy tries to have it both ways. I attend a Sunday morning session called "Transcendent Tech: Is G-d Rebooting the World?" It's a discussion headed by a bearded Mordechai Lightstone, in full Hasidic regalia as the director of social media for the Lubavitch News Service, and Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. "God," Cohen says, "was a coder. She was a hacker. She saw a plan for the world." An element of those plans, he says, was the Ten Commandments. Though now, "we are in a 2.0 phase."

Our group then contemplates the 2.0ness of it all. Cohen, though Jewish, wonders what it would be like if the Catholic church "came out with a chief technology officer" who said "we're going to reboot the Catholic church. And we actually decided to have someone design apps and take a technological approach to changing the paradigm." A man sitting next to me would like to see "an Amazon of the Catholic church" since there's a "distribution of specialized services problem" and he wants to know how the church will be "brought to my front doorstep." A man in thick geek glasses says he sees the Bible as the "first great example of opensourcing." Cohen adds that he still thinks there are prophets, as he sees "the prophetic voice" when he reads friends' comments on his Facebook page. Another gent says his problem with the Bible is there's no "error correction." Paul, for instance, was a homophobe, so he'd like to see more wiki-style group editing. One woman, who has 33,000 Twitter followers, says she writes Jewish tweets. She thinks that's the wave of the future, since "people aren't going to houses of worship anymore."

This kind of talk could send even a believer like me running into Richard Dawkins's arms. If God is indeed rebooting the world in this vein, here's hoping His hard drive crashes.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from April 2013.

Tulsa: March 2013 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: July 2013 is the next archive.

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