You Can Never Pay Too Much Attention To The Facts

You’ll never have to hear the word “no”
If you keep all your friends on the payroll

—Death Cab for Cutie,
“Good Help (Is So Hard To Find)”

I start with this lyric from a Death Cab for Cutie song because if you ask me, it perfectly captures the current state of politics in our country. And you don’t have to look any further than Thursday night, when I stayed up just a little past my bed time (midnight Denver time) to watch CNN rebroadcast C-SPAN, of all things. Now, while you might find this to not be a shock at all, it really isn’t something that I do on a regular basis (or that CNN does, for that matter). However, what was going on was the final vote on another attempt to fix the healthcare system in the United States. And what many considered to be the last-ditch, no-holds-barred attempt to repeal/replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) failed in what was less of a vote and more of a spectacle now commonplace in our American political system, with a party-line-ish photo finish final tally after months, nay, years of closed-door wranglings and politicking that you’d normally find in a House of Cards episode.

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UMTOOS and UMTracker: Where Have They Been?

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely coming from one of the UMTracker accounts that have been incredibly quiet lately, and that’s honestly just because of school. I haven’t had the time to write like I had wanted to, plus college just got incredibly busy for me. However! I do have some updates that I can share about UMTOOS and UMTracker, as well as my personal endeavors related to the United Methodist Church:

  • The UMC Conference Social Media spreadsheet just received a big update with new accounts being tracked and big shifts in numbers, and as always it can be found here
    • Related to that, I’ve significantly pared back the data I’m keeping track of for the time being, including the UMC Youth/YPM spreadsheet, until I can develop a more robust way of maintain it (including moving off of Google Sheets)
  • UMTOOS, as you can probably tell, is no more, but fear not, the content has been migrated to my personal blog, and it can be found (with other UM-related content I’ve written about) here
  • I’ve been hard at work in the Mountain Sky Area working as a Communications Intern, and you can find a blog on my work here
    • In addition to the above, I will be giving a presentation on my work in the Mountain Sky Area after the semester starts, and I will be posting more info as it becomes available
  • I recently went on a trip to Washington, DC to take part in a General Board of Church and Society UM Seminar, and my thoughts on that can be found here

If you’ve made it to this far, I do appreciate you taking the time to read all of this! As always, please feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments.

Until next time,
Jacob

Where Regnat Populus Meets E Pluribus Unum

Regnat Populus: the people rule.
E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one.

This past week, I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a group of young adults from the Arkansas Conference who went to Washington, DC to participate in the United Methodist Seminar program sponsored by the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. The program focused on hunger and poverty in Arkansas and across the United States, and as the Arkansas Conference is currently working on the 200,000 Reasons Initiative, it was a perfect fit for us as we learned about our own state’s statistics on poverty and food insecurity, as well as what programs and ideas have worked in the DC area, and figured out how we can bring that into the initiative.

However, it was more than that. The trip, in and of itself, was an exercise of our collective rights as citizens, an opportunity to imagine new, creative, and innovative solutions to the problems we face in our state, and an adventure into our nation’s expansive and storied capital. And while I know I can’t do the trip justice as far as describing it in detail, I will certainly give it, as they say, “the old college try.”
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Exactly What It Claims To Be: A Review of the Twenty One Pilots “Emøtiønal Røadshøw” Concert

NOTE: This post originally appeared on KHDX.fm in March of 2017.

To call “TWENTY ØNE PILØTS” musicians would be very appropriate, but nowhere near accurate.

However, calling it the “Emøtiønal Røadshøw” tour was certainly completely accurate.

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View from the Mountain Sky: An Odyssey Experience

As you may know, I have had quite the wild ride these past eight months. I went from a Computer Science student not sure of his career path to a Religious Studies student with a plan to become an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church as a communicator and technological advocate and educator, and all of this thanks, in part, to an amazing experience interning with the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church (if you haven’t read any of my writings on that experience, click here). However, as I’ve continued to grapple with that internship, as well as my personal faith development in the context of being a minister as opposed to being a layperson, I’ve come to realize that there is a lot more that I want to learn and experience when it comes to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of people outside of my home state and region. Plus, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that Hendrix affords me, such as the Odyssey program, while I still have the opportunity to. Therefore, after much discussion with Rev. J.J. Whitney, Hendrix’s chaplain, and quite a few emails, I am very excited to announce that I have been approved to conduct an Odyssey project entitled “View From the Mountain Sky: Serving and Interning in the Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church”.

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One Week In

For Americans, and truly anyone around the world, it’s been…quite a week, to put it nicely. Donald Trump has officially been President for a week and a day, and in that timespan, he has managed to:

  • focus a considerable amount of attention on his inaugural crowd size,
  • prevent several US government agencies from posting on social media, specifically after several of them posted about climate change,
  • sign several controversial executive orders, including ones to build the Mexico-US border wall, restart development of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, and limit refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations (unless they are Christian or another minority religious tradition),
  • and to quote Aziz Ansari, have “an entire gender [protest] against him.”

…and none of this gets into what has been happening with his Cabinet nominees. *cough*Betsy DeVos*cough*

These above points have caused a very wide range of reactions from all sides, but for me, I’ve had to spend a considerable amount of time unpacking it and thinking about the ramifications not just for our nation, but for our entire world. Therefore, I want to focus on two areas that have been affected most recently: religion and science.

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Some Thoughts On UMC Annual Conferences and Their Usage of Social Media

Back in June of 2016, I made a little spreadsheet that I titled “UMC in the US – Social Media Presence“. It was a simple little spreadsheet that tracked every United Methodist annual conference and their social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, arguably the three most popular social networks in the United States (especially among the 18-29-year-old demographic), and it all stemmed from a backstage conversation at the Arkansas Annual Conference 2016 about who had the largest Facebook following in our jurisdiction (the answer was the Texas Conference, with Arkansas coming in second). Since that day, I’ve done my best to keep the statistics updated the past 6 months, adding and updating data along the way and letting everyone know about it. In doing so, and watching all of these pages and accounts, I’ve come across some interesting data and had a couple of thoughts on where things stand currently. So without further ado, here are my thoughts after 6 months of observation combined with my own personal opinions on social media.
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Stand

I finally woke up at 10:30am this morning, November 9th. I had ignored my normal alarms that I have set for Wednesdays, because I just wasn’t sure how to face the world, the challenges, the heartache, and the overwhelming sense of fear that so many of the American people face.

Now, to make this clear, my blog reflects my opinion, which is strongly liberal from a political standpoint. However, even with that said, all the issues that I took with Donald Trump were not always political in nature. Far from disagreeing with him on many of the issues, I took issue with his demeanor, his braggadocio, his lack of transparency, and his overall treatment of so many groups in our country.

That’s why it was hard to face the world this morning. It was hard to face the world knowing that the United States had elected someone who went against not our different political beliefs, but against the moral beliefs that we have tried so hard to instill in everyone.

I know, however, that any fear and doubts that I have are significantly eclipsed by those who have truly been affected by Trump’s words and actions. Those who are Latinx, Muslim, African-American, LGBTQIA, female, disabled, supporters of the right to free speech and expression, and so many others have been hurt mentally and sometimes physically by the whole of the campaign. And today, November 9th, they woke up to more than just “not wanting to get out of bed”.

Which leads me to the title of my post: “Stand”. Why this one word? Because it may just be the most important thing we do now. The President, Senate, and House of Representatives have all been elected now, and barring major controversies, they will stay constant for some time. So now it is time for us to stand with each other. To stand with those who feel shut out of America now, to stand against injustice, to stand up and say that we will treat all people, regardless of who they are, with the respect and dignity and love that they deserve, because those ideas throughout America’s lifespan have been the true cornerstone of greatness.

Today, November 9th, there are many Americans who have woken up wondering about what their future holds for them and their families. Let us stand with them.

Jacob

Q: What’s Going On In My Life? (A: I’m Not Completely Sure Yet, But It’s Definitely The Right Thing)

For those of you who have read my “Interning With The ARUMC” blog/category (click here if you haven’t, it’s a really good read, or so I’ve been told), you know that this summer was a very influential one for me: I had the opportunity to discover how I could use my passion for technology in a way that both served God and served the world. However, it went much deeper than that for me, which is why I write for you all today.

Continue reading Q: What’s Going On In My Life? (A: I’m Not Completely Sure Yet, But It’s Definitely The Right Thing)

On The Topic Of The Sheridan Schools Millage Increase

I’d like to talk today about a subject that has gotten a lot of discussion recently: the millage increase for the Sheridan (Arkansas) School District. But before I begin, I’d like to introduce myself and why I have any interest in this subject.

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