Last year I participated in an intensive, nine-month workshop called "Working From the Heart." I wanted to integrate two seemingly divergent eras in my life. In the first era, I was part of the founding group of Sojourners and helped build community, lead worship, work in the inner city, and write for the magazine. The second era began with a mid-life crisis. I left Sojourners, formed my own software company, and worked as an independent computer consultant.
How could I integrate these two periods in my life-community and computers, technology and social change? When I asked these questions to the people around me, no one understood or felt the same energy that was driving me. Sometimes I got blank stares, muffled laughter, or outright hostility. "Computers are technological toys of the white, male, educated, privileged class that complicate our lives, feed our addictions, destroy real community, and increase the pace of our already too hectic lives. And history shows that all of these new technologies inevitably promise more than they can ever deliver and ultimately do more harm than good."
I had to find a place where I could ask my questions among those who had more sympathetic ears. My first real experience of "computer-mediated community" came when I subscribed to Ecunet, a church-based electronic conferencing system that is the home for many who are exploring creative ways to use this new technology within the context of the church.