Several years ago I basically dropped off of social media.  I needed to do this for my sanity.  I had entered into parish ministry and although I’ve long been an advocate of ministers engaging in social media, I found that the algorithms that allow social media to be such a boon for some were becoming deeply toxic for me.  For whatever reason, the algorithms picked up on the extraordinary amount of loss of friends and colleagues in my life and it decided that I wanted to see and hear nothing but news and information about death and dying.  Every time I opened a different app, the news at the top of the feed was about death; advertisements were about therapy and loss, it became overwhelming.

So I left.

Well, I’m going to make something of a comeback for 2023.  I realize now that part of what made it so hard was the technology but more importantly part of the challenge was how I was receiving what the technology was giving me.  While functioning in “parish minister mode”, I felt like it was my responsibility to answer to all of the death and dying that kept coming my way.  Granted, part of this is just who I am as a result of my upbringing (which is a whole other story) I’m someone who always feels responsible.  Yet, what has come clear to me since leaving the parish in August and launching into an entirely new phase of academic study and diving deep into my intellectual thoughts is that the world isn’t my fault!  Who knew?

I’m not alone.  Ministers of all stripes regularly talk about self care and boundaries and intention, but we rarely actually do anything about any of it.  Too often, most of us spend much of our time feeling like the world is our fault.  Regardless of our personal theologies we take on this mountain of responsibility and then have no clue as to what to do with it.  This is part of why I’m coming back ‘online’. I realized that I’ve got some stuff to share that could help my colleagues and others who are part of the vast network of caregivers, support, pastoral ears, etc. who all feel like the world is our fault.

Over the next couple of months, I will relaunch my official website.  Nothing extravagant or super fancy (shout out and deep gratitude to the folks at DEV especially Rachel!) but a place where I can be found besides this blog.  I plan to also produce content here and in other platforms that will take a more pointed look at what sits behind the word “Spirituwellness”.  My hope is to return to some of my roots.  I embarked on ministry and started this blog because being a healer of bodies (massage therapy, fitness, Reiki) wasn’t quite enough.  I wanted to engage people around what they felt gave their lives meaning.  With five years of pastoral training and five years in the field, plus my prior studies and work with embodiment, I feel ready now to actually do what I intended from the beginning.

I’m also planning to test the waters of podcasting.  I’ve always loved the interview/conversation format and with some new tools I will be acquiring this month, I think its time.  All of this to say, look for me again on Instagram, LinkedIn and (ugh) Twitter.  I may even poke my head out on Facebook again (maybe a little Soundcloud and YouTube as well).  I’m giving social media a second chance.  See you again soon in the new year!



Original photo by Martin Schoeller for Forbes

Capitalism and the free-market economy are based on the exchange of value and the key freedom of participation.  One is free to work; one is free to pursue economic ends; one is free to do and create things in exchange for compensation or other value.  On its surface this is simple.  It is in many ways the commodification of doing.  But the ethics of the free market slide into another realm when we look at the fact that this same system in the United States also accommodated slavery.  In slavery, not only is the capacity to work, or produce goods commodified, but ones very existence becomes a tradable, marketable value.  The capacity to procreate, to express (or suppress) emotion…i.e. docility, malleability…even basic human will becomes of value in the marketplace.

The ethical horror of American slavery includes many ills: rape, torture, family separation, etc.  But the great sin (and I use that word deliberately here) that sits at its heart is the non-humanization of human beings.  Slavery in the United States is* based entirely on the commodification of being.

Democracy has tried in the past to be a stopgap to this tragedy.  The early failures of the original framers of the constitution to erase the commodification of being, were given some course correction by the combination of executive action followed by legislation…after a vicious and tragic war.  Sadly however, the poison runs deep.  It is evident in how there continues to be a lively trade in anti-blackness, both domestically and abroad.  No amount of legislation seems capable of fixing the sickness of anti-blackness that is held both by those who are not black and sadly (and I say this as a very proud black man) by those who are.  Still democracy tries.

More importantly, activists, organizers, legislators, teachers, businesspeople, children, most of them black and some who are not…try daily to portray blackness through lenses of pride and worthiness; dynamic expression and ingenuity; creativity, beauty and brilliance.  It is not that the people who were brutally brought here from the African continent starting in 1619 didn’t have any of these same qualities…one need only to look at the list of technological and other advancements for which they were responsible to recognize that.  The problem is that their being as opposed to their doing was turned into value.  If you do not outright own your own being, you have nothing.  You are nothing.  This is what sits at the heart of anti-blackness.

I am not against a free market or capitalism. However, I do believe capitalism needs to always be checked by ethics.  Slavery and its progeny anti-blackness are the best examples of this.  The Civil War was a bizarre ethical conundrum: white men fighting white men over the power of their whiteness over black people.  A war over the “freedom” to commodify being that summarily denies freedom to others.

Now THAT is meta.

I encourage everyone who engages this brief reflection I’ve written to think carefully about the technology that Mark Zuckerberg has used to create wealth.  The means and technology are different, but the ethics are the exact same as what created the slavery industry and subsequently led to the deep seeded anti-blackness we live with today.  My greatest concern is not just the damage that is done by any kind of commodification of being (Zuckerberg’s business model is based on algorithms that do exactly that) but as a theologian and someone invested in the ethics of being, I worry what equivalent of anti-blackness will result from this failure of our democracy to act?  Anti-Asian? Anti-woman?  Anti-elder (think Logan’s Run)?  Anti-faith?  Anti-poor?  Anti-disability?  In truth, if you have engaged Zuckerberg’s work at all, you have probably experienced the potential for any of these already.

How quickly we forget that the abuse of freedom has consequences.  The freedom to put people’s being in chains against their will is a lesson I thought we had learned.

Apparently not.


*I refer to slavery in the present tense because we continue to live with its shadows and echoes in anti-blackness.