Learning How to See

If you want to make something new, start with understanding. Understanding what’s already present, and understanding the opportunities in what’s not. Most of all, understanding how it all fits together.

Watch the last two minutes of the classic film, 2001. Today’s technology would allow someone to make a short film like this with very little effort. But could you? The making isn’t the hard part, in fact. It’s the seeing.

Would you have the guts to go this slow? To use music this boldy? To combine iconography from three different centuries over two millenia?

Where is the explosion of the death star and where are the hackneyed tropes of a hundred or a thousand prior sci-fi movies?

Stanley Kubrick, the film’s director, saw. He saw images and stories that were available to anyone who chose to see them, but others averted their eyes, grabbed for the easy or the quick or the work that would satisfy the boss in closest proximity.

When everyone has the same Mac and the same internet, the difference between hackneyed graphic design and extraordinary graphic design is just one thing—the ability to see.

Seeing, despite the name, isn’t merely visual. I worked briefly with Arthur C. Clarke thirty years ago, and he saw, but he saw in words, and in concepts. The people who built the internet, the one you’re using right now, saw how circuits and simple computer code could be connected to build something new and bigger. Others had the same tools, but not the same vision.

And all around us, we’re surrounded by limits, by disasters (natural and otherwise) and by pessimism. Some people see in this opportunity and a chance to draw (with any sort of metaphorical pen) something. Others see in it a chance to hide, to settle and to sigh.

The same confidence and hubris that Kubrick and Clarke brought to their movie is available to anyone who decides to give more than they ‘should’ to a charity that has the audacity to change things. While others believe they can (and must) merely settle.

In our best possible future together, I hope we’ll do a better job of learning to see one another. 

Some people see a struggling person and turn away. Others see a human being and work to open a door or lend a hand. There are possiblities all around us. Not just the clicks of recycling a tired cliche, but the opportunity to be brave. If we only had the guts.

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Seth Godin

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Recent Comments
I love Ed's writings and heart. I am frustrated by these articles, however. Much of the missiological basis of the Church Growth Movement are not mentioned, and the origination of the formulas are not substantiated. Also, the Movement via Wagner, started mentioning the importance of health over 3o years ago. I wish these articles were better researched and less sweeping in their generalizations. Things like E1, E2, E3 evangelism, group multiplication, relational networks, faith, health, and the care to measure the right things are largely missing here. Perhaps Ed has earned the right to generalize, but I still was disappointed. But keep researching Ed! Ed and Thom have continued on in the spirit of the movement by doing quality research, and for that I am deeply grateful.
 
— Gary Westra
 
This discussion will continue, for sure. I am tasked with the online worship ministry do our church at FBC Trussville and it is proving to be an important piece of the overall ministry. As in most things In life and technology, balance is in order. Many of our older adults prefer the "live" service online rather than a week or even day-later DVD or downloaded service. They tell me it is important for them to be a part while the service occurs. This is key because if a person simply wanted the message or music or to see the pastor because they "like" him, then it would not need to be live. There is a sense with our people that they need to experience the worship with their church family in real time. Theologically, folks will have issues. This is a disruptive technology for church. But I would hope that before we toss it all away we would approach it with wisdom and humility. Personally, I would like to see the Church grow through small, cost-effective ways like this and not just brick-and-mortar.
 
— Robby
 
It seems this was written awhile ago but I would like to respond. Mr. Surratt makes great points. Points that should be taken seriously by all churches. I just do not think these points are the main reason people are not coming back to churches. Who knows the exact reason why anyone does not come back unless they tell you, but I can say with certainty the reasons I do not return are usually the same. 1. Love, tolerance, and acceptance. (unbelievers, baby Christians) Church members seem to want their guests or potential members to behave a certain way. They want them to conform to the system that is already in place. In some ways this is understandable. In other ways, it is isolating to the guest. They want to feel loved and accepted the way they are. They want to be told everything is ok no matter their past. They want to be given time to work out their immediate more pressing issues without having to worry about what to wear and how to talk (church speak). 2. Love, tolerance, and acceptance (believers, unchurched) Many times, these people are looking for what fits their already preconceived ideas of what "good churches" are. These preconceived notions are difficult to overcome and some of them were addressed in Mr. Surratt's article. But I can tell you that a truly loving, a truly tolerant, and a truly accepting church can overcome most of these things. You may never be able to overcome a taste in music, or a theological difference, but most everything else can be healed with Love. 3. People can see the business aspect of the church. I see it almost immediately when I walk into certain churches for the first time. I think people understand that a church has many aspects of itself that are business oriented. I just believe they dont want to experience these aspects when they visit. How many churches are so focused on growth, in numbers of bodies, that they forget the growth of the heart? The American church is now fully Americanized. Its a show and a numbers game. People come to church, especially new comers, CRAVING to fill a void in their life. If you are offering the same thing they can get in the real world, how are you any different? There are plenty of other reasons people do not return and many may not be avoidable. However, the church as a whole needs to reevaluate the arena in which they are playing. The simplicity of the Gospel is good enough to fulfill the hearts of the unbelievers and restore the prodigal's to a relationship with Christ. Love thy neighbor as thyself and love thy God with all your heart.
 
— Shay Wallace
 

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