Author Topic: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections  (Read 38481 times)

Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #90 on: May 03, 2020, 07:16:48 PM »
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳


The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.


You don't think people, even back in my parent's generation, flipped through TV channels to find a more entertaining worship service? Billy Graham drew thousands to his crusades and TV shows. Other evangelists were not so entertaining. I would watch Oral Roberts because of the quality of the programming. (I didn't care much about the message back then.) They put on a good music show.

This topic is valuable to me because live-streaming is not something I envisioned as a major ministry tool in my personal mid-70s, and I've had to adjust my brain and think it through some.

We have a lot to learn, but currently have up to 10 times the viewership than normal worship attendance.  Since mid-March, all services are services of the Word.  Since mid-March, one service a week is informal in my dress and in basic approach; one service is more formal in my dress and in the movement of the service (absent Eucharist). 

Worship attenders tell me that they appreciate the live-streaming but absolutely are hungry and longing for in person worship to be with their fellow parishioners.  Some of the rest of the people viewing are interested in joining the fellowship, even though they do not live in New York - that's a new one on me.  Some of the rest of the people viewing are known to me, many are not.  And there are at least six times as many of them as regular attenders. 

We've spent zero dollars in boosting our audience, zero dollars or time in buying email lists or any of the other online resources.  We probably should do those things.  I don't know exactly how to do those things.

We're missing a lot of "our own" people - members and regular attenders without internet or ability to connect to our venues - Facebook, You Tube.  Or who don't know about it.  Or kids, who we're really missing because we haven't figured out online Sunday School yet.  Youth and young adults know how to work the system, so they get what they want or stay away from what they don't want.  I'm thinking of contacting neighborhood attenders and doing a scheduled "walk-by" this week, not going in but standing outside and shooting the breeze with them.  Something.  A "virtual coffee hour" in a couple of weeks.  Somebody put together a video virtual birthday hug for me so I got surprised at the end of the service with around 15 minutes of greetings in vimeo format.  Very cool, emotional for me.  Something I couldn't do myself.

So these are my insights to date:
Look directly into the camera from not too far away and not too close.  Make eye contact with the camera almost all the time.  Don't face away.
The center is the message.  Viewer stats show that overwhelmingly.  Keep the message/sermon to 15 minutes or so, tell stories with a point, leading to the text and the Point, which is Jesus, and get out of there.  Doctrine through the stories - I know, that can't be right.  But it is right.  And look directly into the camera.
What do people hang in there for?
a) The message, connected to a/the text
b) some of the songs - I sing a solo Spanish song (unless somebody sneaks in and joins, which hasn't happened), and we sing some of our repertoire along with traditional hymns.  Lots of positive comments on that
c) prayer time - huge prayer list, and people stick in to hear the prayers as I pray them.  Important, and ex corde, leading to the Lord's Prayer.

The rest - and this can be checked out through the various service providers, is up and down, in and out.  The viewer is in charge of viewing, not me. 
Interior/member attenders watch the whole service, and are interacting with one another all the time, sharing prayer stuff and support, telling one another what they're up to - coffee hour in the comments section during the service.  Again, the viewer is in charge, not me.
Contributions:  This has worked better than I thought, through PayPal.  Who knew?  Not me.

Follow-up with the comments section by me is where the pastoral side of the interaction kicks in.  Which again is weird, but real.  "didn't know your aunt was sick," etc. etc.  Followup phone calls or texts or what'sapps, or facebook messenger - way out of my comfort zone but must be done and done expeditiously, because here you need to......

Stay alert - very hard, very necessary, because stuff is happening and happens rapidly - "the older woman across the street was just taken out in an ambulance.  She never left the house since February but the person upstairs had a home attendant who had the virus, and the older woman caught it from her.  Nobody can see her in the hospital - what should I do?"    No easy answer there.  That goes in the online prayer list, and so becomes part of the congregation's ministry. 

Anyway, how to use this online worship tool at this time for Christ and Kingdom is always on my brain.

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #91 on: May 03, 2020, 07:49:01 PM »
Thread drift.
I'll open later, if someone doesn't do it first, a topic on Televised Worship. There are resources out there, good examples, things we can learn from. That would be better than yelling at Brian here.

See?  You’ve forced me to agree with Charles....

I enjoyed your haircut story, Charles.  Thanks for taking the time to write it.

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #92 on: May 03, 2020, 08:15:23 PM »
Thread drift.
I'll open later, if someone doesn't do it first, a topic on Televised Worship. There are resources out there, good examples, things we can learn from. That would be better than yelling at Brian here.
Feigning ‘thread drift’ to distract from “intellectual dishonesty’ is a new low in forum dialog. 


This post clearly documents the moving of the goal posts. Rather than feign victim status for both you and Rev Stoffregen, how about encouraging him to stay on topic and quit moving the goal posts.

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #93 on: May 03, 2020, 09:12:41 PM »
Feigning ‘thread drift’ to distract from “intellectual dishonesty’ is a new low in forum dialog. 


Oh, I don't know.  Other than Charles' occasional shots at the "quality" of some of the vids he's viewed (given the utter simplicity of my Facebook Live Daily Prayer, my immediate reaction each time is whether or not they are up to his standards, although my efforts are greatly appreciated by a wide range of viewers -- I like to think in part because I do keep it utterly simple and literally keep the focus on Jesus nearly all the time) I've rather enjoyed his reflections. 

Brian's intellectual dishonesty is a matter one can read about in hundreds of topics on this forum, and that certainly fits some of them -- particularly the new "Mother God" topic -- better than here.

Pax, Steven+
« Last Edit: May 04, 2020, 08:55:11 AM by The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #94 on: May 04, 2020, 02:19:12 AM »
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳


The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.

Sorry Rev Stoffregen ... quality was NOT the original issue ... as is clearly stated below the medium IS the issue that originated this discussion. Quality and medium are NOT synonyms.

But if the medium does not work, the message is weakened or lost completely.

But then moving the goal posts is your speciality. ☹️


No, the medium is not the issue, except when it doesn't work. If it's not working at all, it's no longer the medium. "Not working" is defined in Charles post as when the message is "weakened or lost completely." Since we know that the medium works; and that folks can spread their message clearly without it being lost. It's not the medium's fault if a message is weakened or lost. I stand by my interpretation that it's about how well a users is able to use the medium - thus the quality.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #95 on: May 04, 2020, 08:54:30 AM »
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳


The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.

Sorry Rev Stoffregen ... quality was NOT the original issue ... as is clearly stated below the medium IS the issue that originated this discussion. Quality and medium are NOT synonyms.

But if the medium does not work, the message is weakened or lost completely.

But then moving the goal posts is your speciality. ☹️


No, the medium is not the issue, except when it doesn't work. If it's not working at all, it's no longer the medium. "Not working" is defined in Charles post as when the message is "weakened or lost completely." Since we know that the medium works; and that folks can spread their message clearly without it being lost. It's not the medium's fault if a message is weakened or lost. I stand by my interpretation that it's about how well a users is able to use the medium - thus the quality.

This is happening a lot in the real media world right now.  "Uh, we'll get back to you there in your home, Bob - seem to have lost the audio feed," as there's a talking head with nothing coming out speaking earnestly about something important.  Or the sound goes in and out from Ms. X's home computer, and the questions have a long delay before they get to her ears.  Etc., etc.  In these cases, all of which are done with the maximum of professional tech involvement, there are simply too many variables to control.  It lets us know how much the tech media people have going for them in the studio format, and how much we amateurs have to catch up with if we want anything approaching a decent format.

Something I read this morning caught my attention - even as we in the religious communication world are having a big spike in our online outreach, it turns out that the lunatic fringe groups are also having a heyday in recruiting new haters, so many people surfing the net with all those hours at home and all.  So the newest leader of a return to Hitler hate group in Estonia is a thirteen year old boy.  Tech adept.  That lets me know that vigilance is the watchword even as we explore this brave new webcam world.

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #96 on: May 04, 2020, 10:01:35 AM »
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳

The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.

Sorry Rev Stoffregen ... quality was NOT the original issue ... as is clearly stated below the medium IS the issue that originated this discussion. Quality and medium are NOT synonyms.

But if the medium does not work, the message is weakened or lost completely.

But then moving the goal posts is your speciality. ☹️

No, the medium is not the issue, except when it doesn't work. If it's not working at all, it's no longer the medium. "Not working" is defined in Charles post as when the message is "weakened or lost completely." Since we know that the medium works; and that folks can spread their message clearly without it being lost. It's not the medium's fault if a message is weakened or lost. I stand by my interpretation that it's about how well a users is able to use the medium - thus the quality.
While the forum search function is not perfect, it reveals that Rev Stoffregen is the ONLY forum member to use the word 'quality' since Rev Austin's mention of the medium as a thread topic. 


Continue to discuss quality with yourself ... it should be amusing for forum participants to observe you move goal posts on yourself.  Have a perfectly confusing discussion with yourself.  :o

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #97 on: May 10, 2020, 06:00:53 PM »
Rev. Austin,

I know you are writing from the heart.  I know you are saying what so many people are thinking and feeling.  I know similar emotions can be found in the Psalms, and elsewhere in Scripture.  But remember the Answer.

No, not "damn -- just damn".  Save.  Save ME.  When you look to Christ, it is different than when we look to ourselves or our present situation.  I know you know that.  Really.  Don't look at the wind and waves, look at Him.  And then you CAN walk.  Even on the stormy waters.  There is joy, even in this.  Because you have Christ.

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #98 on: May 10, 2020, 08:17:48 PM »
I suppose it helps when you are distracted by other duties.  Not a day goes by that I am not busy with something for the church, or the family, or the fire department, or all of the above.  Early on I started a daily time of devotion live streamed on FB.  It's only 15 minutes and I am working my way through the book of Acts.  Like Rev. Austin I will likewise confess my less-than-stellar devotion to devotions.  I have used For All the Saints in the past (which I was introduced to by Dr. Arthur Just at a graduate class in Madison back in the mid-90s), and recently moved to Treasury of Daily Prayer in the last year.  The live streamed online devotions 'discipline' me to actually take time, even if I am leading it, to be in the Word on a daily basis.  The structure is simple: Invocation (or opening versicles from Matins), psalm, reading from Acts, closing prayer, Lord's Prayer, benediction. It also pushes me to apply the word directly to the challenges of our time, finding positives to share, knowing my people (and others watching), are rather desperate for a positive word from God.

Most days I think my emotional state is pretty good.  However, some days not as good.  I think it's a combination of things.  Partly being weary, since there are no days off, no real time away from work and responsibility.  Partly guilt, wondering all the time if I am doing enough, watching other brothers in the ministry seemingly burning themselves out trying to cover every base.  I visited with one such brother the other night, and I saw the weariness in him.  We are all feeling it.  And then there is that horrible uncertainty.  What does it look like when they lift the 'stay-at-home' orders?  How do I adapt?  And what happens if this thing re-surges in the fall?  What do we do then?  And what about the tanking economy and rising unemployment and the endless lines at the food banks where the words "Great Depression" are used for comparison more and more with each passing day?  I have to fight back the kind of anxiety I know is not born of faith but of fear.  In the last few days I have had the distraction of of my wife's birthday with Mother's Day following on its heels.  Happy times, even with the children gathered around their computers and cell phones by Zoom.  But this Thursday I have to go to Chicago with my wife and daughter to retrieve the rest of the stuff in her dorm.  I tried everything to get out of going, even appealing to housing that I am 'high risk' as a diabetic and advised not to leave my area.  To no avail.  Now I face a 14 day quarantine. Communing my people privately by appointment will be put on hold, and that was one of the real bright spots of ministry seeing their genuine joy in receiving the gift of Christ's body and blood.  Gone my visits to the city fire department.  I will walk and exercise and read and do whatever I can to push through it.  But it hurts to think that what little freedom I had will now be temporarily taken away.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2020, 08:20:01 PM by D. Engebretson »
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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #99 on: May 10, 2020, 09:43:19 PM »
 And what happens if this thing re-surges in the fall?  What do we do then?  And what about the tanking economy and rising unemployment and the endless lines at the food banks where the words "Great Depression" are used for comparison more and more with each passing day?  I have to fight back the kind of anxiety I know is not born of faith but of fear.  In the last few days I have had the distraction of of my wife's birthday with Mother's Day following on its heels.  Happy times, even with the children gathered around their computers and cell phones by Zoom.  But this Thursday I have to go to Chicago with my wife and daughter to retrieve the rest of the stuff in her dorm.  I tried everything to get out of going, even appealing to housing that I am 'high risk' as a diabetic and advised not to leave my area.  To no avail.  Now I face a 14 day quarantine. Communing my people privately by appointment will be put on hold, and that was one of the real bright spots of ministry seeing their genuine joy in receiving the gift of Christ's body and blood.  Gone my visits to the city fire department.  I will walk and exercise and read and do whatever I can to push through it.  But it hurts to think that what little freedom I had will now be temporarily taken away.

That's tough stuff.  Judy and I haven't been quarantined yet, but then we live in Queens and work in Brooklyn so we're really already quarantined.  I haven't even taken a bridge or tunnel.  What that means here is that we're on the island.  Long Island.  And most likely going nowhere. 

I mentioned today in my message that it was one thing to say this is as bad as the Recession of 2008 and the Ebola crisis.  But when it went to the Great Depression and the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 - hey, you're beyond my lifetime.  Yesterday someone put it out there that this is the greatest challenge to the US since the Civil War.  Seriously? 

So what we did today was to plant some tomatoes and peppers in the community garden.  Get down in the dirt.  Think other thoughts.  The lead gardener was digging weeds out of the crevasses in the tiles in the garden pathway.  So after about 45 minutes I went over to her and asked "what song are you playing in your head when you do that?"  She said, "None.  I'm thinking about how to best help a friend of mine who's been through two cancer treatments and was "cured" twice, but has to face it again."  That just blew me away.  There's an actual person, engaging her world to bring hope.  While weeding.

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #100 on: May 10, 2020, 10:02:00 PM »

So what we did today was to plant some tomatoes and peppers in the community garden.  Get down in the dirt.  Think other thoughts.


We call it "dirt therapy" in my house. Anything that gets your shoes muddy or your fingernails grimy or your knees dirty. Or gets sawdust in your hair. Or motor oil on your T-shirt. It's therapeutic. And it's an incredible escape.

When I have enough energy for it...

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #101 on: May 11, 2020, 08:42:51 AM »
Pastor Bohler writes:
There is joy, even in this.  Because you have Christ.
I comment:
You are right, of course.
   But in my life and mind, to "have Christ" - for all the eternal glory and promise and reality of in that phrase - does not always get me through the day with the verve and uppy-ness of one dancing the living dream of redemption.
   My life needs real contact with real people, especially loved ones. Maybe that's selfish. Maybe it's selfish to crave listening to and making live music, dining out, live theater, art galleries, and trips to interesting places far from home.
   Those things are all blessings of God that have enlightened and enriched my life; and right now I don't have them. Yes, I have other blessings. So I suppose that should do.
   Even typing this response has turned me a little towards cheerfulness.
   Beloved Spouse and I yesterday were saying how glad we are that we were able to do the things we did - college, careers (two for her, three for me), life abroad, extensive world travel, and interesting friends and experiences, children grown responsible (mostly), and grandchildren to know.
   But there are more things to do. Haven't been to the Greek Islands yet. I would like to see Paris or Rome again and have some filet de perche with friends on the shore of Lake Geneva. More simply, I'd like to have dinner in the dining room with friends also living here in Plymouth. Our granddaughter's confirmation was cancelled and we don't know when it will be re-scheduled.
   The infirmities of age may prevent us from doing some of those things, but right now the virus is certainly preventing us from even considering them.
   Do I need more for joy than to "have Christ"? Is it heresy to say yes?

Do not confuse the gifts with the Giver.  He is the One who gives joy, not them.  Otherwise, you will never truly have it -- there's always more trips to be taken, more time with friends to anticipate, more shows and entertainment to see.  And the devil will always remind you of that. 

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)

Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #102 on: May 11, 2020, 09:04:26 AM »

So what we did today was to plant some tomatoes and peppers in the community garden.  Get down in the dirt.  Think other thoughts.


We call it "dirt therapy" in my house. Anything that gets your shoes muddy or your fingernails grimy or your knees dirty. Or gets sawdust in your hair. Or motor oil on your T-shirt. It's therapeutic. And it's an incredible escape.

When I have enough energy for it...

True.  This is an observation somewhat from my childhood in Milwaukee, but also out here in NY.  If we can remember back to the day when handshaking was normal - in working class and working poor settings, where the guys go off to the factory or the machine shop or lug stuff around or if rural the farm, and many of the women as well, they often give a suspicious look when shaking the clergyman's hands.  Soft and smooth, clean fingernails.  Insufficient dirt, an office mouse.

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #103 on: May 11, 2020, 09:45:28 AM »
Dirt therapy. I like it. We've been practicing a lot of dirt therapy at our house the past two months (sometimes literally as my three year old loves playing in dirt). One of the emerging realities from this crisis is food insecurity. Our parish is going to partner with a ministry that serves the food insecure and we are also talking about planting our own green roof garden to supplement that partnership and provide fresh edibles for our neighbors.

M. Staneck
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St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #104 on: May 11, 2020, 10:28:18 AM »
Pastor Bohler writes:
Do not confuse the gifts with the Giver.  He is the One who gives joy, not them.  Otherwise, you will never truly have it -- there's always more trips to be taken, more time with friends to anticipate, more shows and entertainment to see.  And the devil will always remind you of that. 
I comment:
Thank you, Pastor Bohler, but the joy is hard to see and experience unless it exists in some tangible way. I am reminded of an old Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy is shivering in the cold. Linus walks by and says “be of good cheer.” The last frame of the strip shows snoopy, still shivering.
I am somewhat repelled by your suggestion that it is the devil who reminds me of the human joys of life.
It seems clear that we have a serious misunderstanding.
I would say that you misunderstand me.
You would say that I misunderstand you.
And there we are.

The difference, of course, between our situation and that Peanuts cartoon is that I cannot do anything to give you those things you miss.  All I can do is point you to where true joy may be found.  If that is not enough for you, then I cannot help you.  And I am truly sorry for that.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 11:07:37 AM by Steven W Bohler »