Six Ways to Get Unfollowed on Twitter

    People follow one another on Twitter (and unfollow) for a lot of reasons, but in my book, these six things will get you unfollowed pretty quickly.

1)      Post too many times a day –  My general rule of thumb is that most people can post five times a day.  Even ten is acceptable if you have something really good to say, or if there is some special event that you are live tweeting.  But once you start crowding my feed, you are a target.
2)      Post too many times in a row – Some people post five or ten tweets in a row.  Sometimes it is a bunch of separate things all sent at once, and other times someone strings a long post into five or ten tweets.  If you want to blog, write a blog.  Either way, if you do it very often, I’m probably not going to follow you.
3)      Post too many pictures – I know everyone says that pictures attract attention, but if all you do is post a bunch of pictures, posters or memes on my feed, I’m probably not going to follow you.
4)      Post Off topic – I generally follow people because I am interested in what they post.  I completely understand that we are all human and a little “human interest” is fine.  The occasional post about your kids, or your nice dinner is okay, but if you say that your posts are about science, religion, business or whatever, and spend most of your time posting about something else, your days on my list might be numbered.
5)      Post ads – I understand that many of us are on social media to promote our place of business, books, or even ourselves.  But if all I ever see are ads instead of useful content, I’m probably not going to follow you.
6)      Post “click-bait” – We all have a variety of interests and occasionally we find interesting things that we want to share, but if the majority of your posts are links to “click-bait” advertising that looks like “Wow! Look at this Crazy Stuff!”  I’m probably not going to follow you.

I’m sure that  missed a few.

What have people done that made you unfollow them?

I tweet primarily about church, faith and religion, but also science, technology, the space program and the human condition.  And of course, a few about my kids.  Follow me @PastorPartridge


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Reprogramming My Head

    A week or so ago, I returned to my audiologist, John, who programs my cochlear implant.  It’s a little confusing when I describe it, because I still see Walt, the audiologist who takes care of the hearing aid in my other ear.  Anyway, we started out the way that the last couple sessions started.  John connected my implant to his computer and ran through a series of tones to see how my brain was adapting to the electrical impulses from my implant.
    But before we got very far, he took me down the hall to the soundproof booths that are used for hearing tests.  There, he re-ran the test that was required to be approved for surgery.  In that test, a voice reads random sentences and you have to repeat back any words (or whole sentences) that you can understand.  This test is run one ear at a time, so I took off my hearing aid and listened only with my implant.  I thought I did well, but John seemed excited.  We laughed because one of the sentences said something about the gecko that is on television commercials.  For some reason, John was very pleased that I had understood the word “gecko.”
    After he did the math and calculated the results of my test, I understood why he was so pleased.  In the same test, prior to my surgery, I had understood 7 percent of the words.  Now, four months post-implant, I understood 70 percent of the words.  No wonder people keep telling me that my hearing is noticeably better.
    After the testing, John tried some more programming.  Whatever he did was too much made everything sound like my head was inside a garbage can, so he tried some other things.  Along the way, we discovered that of the 12 electrodes that were inserted into my cochlea, two of them don’t seem to be doing much.  Ten of them I can “hear” but the last two, while I can “feel” them, I don’t really “hear” anything with them.  For each electrode, John turns up the volume until I say that it is “uncomfortably loud.”  But for those two electrodes, there really isn’t a “loud” and a “soft.”  I sort of hear something, but it doesn’t really get louder as he turns up the input.  What I notice, is that in one ear, instead of getting loud, I can feel the volume pounding in my head much like you can feel a loud bass thump from a big speaker at a rock concert.  I feel it more than hear it.  The other electrode is similar, I don’t hear it or feel it, but instead, at high “volumes” I can feel my head hurt.  It’s like I have a bad headache that pules with the beat, on, off, on, off, on, off.
    In the end, John turned off those two electrodes.  His thinking is that if these electrodes aren’t working by now, they aren’t going to.  Most likely, they are in a part of the cochlea that has more nerve damage and isn’t really “talking” to my brain anymore.  In any case, my implant can function with only four electrodes, so I should be just fine with ten.  Before I left, John finished reprogramming everything using the ten working electrodes, as well as some additional changes and enhancements that I now have to get used to.  It wasn’t as much as he had hoped to do, but we’re still moving forward.  John said that for being only four months after my surgery, he felt I was doing very well.
And so the adventure continues.   Not with giant leaps forward, but with baby steps.
But forward is still forward.



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Managing Expectations

    I recently read an article encouraging people like me (those waiting for a cochlear implant) to spend some time “managing” the expectations of their family, friends, coworkers and others close to them.  Why?  Because the advances in modern medicine and the pervasiveness of technology have, sometimes irrationally, raised our expectations.  When I was in elementary school, my grandmother had cataract surgery.  She went to the hospital, they sandbagged her head to keep her immobile, and she stayed in the hospital for weeks.  A few years ago, my father had the same surgery.  He went to the doctor’s office, had the surgery in an hour or so, drove himself home and slept in his own bed that night.  Today, if we need a new computer or an electronic device, we go to the store and we expect that it will work “right out of the box.”
    These experiences lead us to expect miracles.  When we talk about a cochlear implant, a device that will restore my hearing, many will assume that, as other modern miracles, or electronic devices, that overnight, my hearing will be restored.
But that isn’t the way it works.
    Those of us who grew up watching The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman need to know that a cochlear implant is not a bionic ear.  There are however, more accurate comparisons that will give us a more realistic understanding of what to expect.  The Broken Leg analogy: Many of us have heard about young athletes who receive a traumatic leg injury on the football field, ski slopes, or other sporting event.  Despite their skill and athleticism, after weeks and even months in a cast, they must spend a significant amount of time in physical therapy re-learning how to walk and rebuilding what was lost.  Receiving a cochlear implant might look more like that than expecting a miracle “right out of the box.”
But even that doesn’t go far enough.
    Those who know me know that I am a reader.  When my brother and I started keeping aquarium fish, I read voraciously about fish-keeping.  Knowing that I was traveling down the road to getting a cochlear implant, I did the same thing.  I spent hours reading the information and watched the DVD that my doctor gave me, and hours more searching the Internet for scientific studies, odds of success, and the blogs of people who had regularly written about their experiences following surgery. I also wrote to my cousins who received implants years ago following a childhood illness.
    From this study and reading, I think that the “Broken Leg analogy” doesn’t go far enough.  Perhaps a better analogy, as gruesome as it might sound, is the “War Veteran analogy.”  Think about “Dave,” a young soldier in Iraq or in Afghanistan who is injured in an explosion.  Dave’s leg isn’t broken, it’s lost altogether.  Because of the miracles of modern medicine, materials science, and electronics, Dave has the opportunity to receive a next generation, computer controlled, prosthetic leg.  While this new leg is a marvel of modern technology, and it will, eventually, give Dave the ability to walk, he isn’t going to just put the thing on and run a marathon.  There will be months of physical therapy and rehab, and even then, because this isn’t Star Wars, Dave’s new leg is never going to be as good as the one he was born with.
That is more like what I expect from receiving a cochlear implant.
    I might be back to work a week or two after surgery, but even after it gets “switched on,” my hearing isn’t going to magically return to normal.  There will be months of rehab as my brain re-learns how to hear.  While I have hope that I will eventually be able to understand conversations, listen to the radio, and even listen to music, I know that my hearing may never be as good as it once was.
I am trying to “manage” my expectations.

I hope that you are too.



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Top Ten 2011 Blog Posts

    I know I’m a year late, but as I began to assemble the top ten blog posts of 2012, I realized that there were a few from 2011 that still had value and might well be worth a second look.  Here they are, more or less in order of popularity.
1) God Will Destroy the Fat Cats – November 29, 2011 – A Blog about God’s desire to destroy the rich, well, not really… but sort of.
2) Laws of Man and God – Are guns evil? Part 1 – February 9, 2011 – Part 1 of 4 – The first in a series that I wrote after the shooting of Gabriel Giffords.  Not really pro-gun or anti gun, just asking a lot of questions and thinking out loud.    The first two installments made the year’s top ten, but while part 3 was moderately popular, almost no one made it to part 4.  My lesson?  Even broken into pieces, this was just too long.
3) Happy Birthday Mr. Shea! – February 2, 2011 – A tribute to George Beverly Shea           on his 102nd birthday.  
4) Laws of Man and God – Are guns evil? Part 2– February 10, 2011 – Part 2 of 4
5) Living Together, No Harm No Foul? – April 27, 2011 – Is living together normal, healthy, moral and responsible?  I’m sure you can find lots of people who think it’s a good idea, but, well, no. 
6) Seeing God in the World Around You – March 25, 2011 – A man I never met, weeps during my talk, wondering how I knew so much about his life.  I didn’t.  But God did.
7) 20/20 Blindness – March 31, 2011 – A blind man is thrown out of a restaurant because of his guide dog.  Apparently, humans are just as blind today as the Pharisees that Jesus knew.            
8) Christmas in January – January 4, 2011- I explain why our family still leaves our Christmas decorations us until the first week in January.  Not everyone celebrates Christmas on December 25th you know.
9) Too Busy for God? – May 25, 2011 – Do you plans for the summer, or for the New Year, include church.  If church is important to you, don’t allow it to happen by accident.

    In reality, there was a three or four way tie for tenth place.  Instead of picking one of those, or using all of them, I jump to the blog that comes after the tie because, even though it was read less often, it had more comments than any other blog of the year.  That’s worth something mentioning, I think.

10) A New Digital Divide – Who wins, who loses? – January 19, 2011 – As we become an increasingly technological society, we cannot allow ourselves to forget the people who are being left behind.
Honorable Mention) The Nightmare of Democracy? – February 14, 2011 – I include this, a blog that was written at the very beginning of what we now call the Arab Spring.  In it, I worried that the revolution in Egypt might not be such a great thing.  In the two years since, attacks on Coptic Christians and on the Coptic Church have increased and the government has shown little interest in preventing it.  Events are still unfolding in the Middle East and as they do, out brothers and sisters in Christ will continue to be in need of our prayers.

Christian Conflict Resolution……An Unfortunate Contradiction In Terms

The following article was written on Facebook by my friend Darrell Ritchie and is reprinted here with his kind permission.  Darrell’s descriptions coincide very well with my own experience.  My only disagreement would be that I think there are four steps described in scripture with walking away actually being the fourth step.  This way we are reminded that we need to try three times in three different ways, before we give up on a relationship with another Christian brother or sister.  I have been guilty of this and have had others walk away from me but God’s not finished with me yet and I’m still trying to do better.
Christian Conflict Resolution……An Unfortunate Contradiction In Terms
By Darrell Ritchie (Lawrenceville, Georgia) on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 8:06am ·

    You know, I never cease to be amazed by the average Christian’s inability to resolve conflict. It is almost as though many of us check our courage at the door when we accept Christ and from that moment forward we opt to avoid anything resembling confrontation, instead choosing to run like a river when the snow melts whenever something happens between us and one of our fellow Christians that might actually require some work on our part.

     And yes, I think I am qualified to speak on this subject, having been raised in the church, having been a Christian most of my life, and having spent over twenty years in music ministry where I have often had the dubious privilege of seeing and hearing a lot of things that I probably shouldn’t as the result of being the guest artist in a given church.
     What is it that makes us so incapable of handling conflict? Disagreements? Issues? In the vast majority of cases I see where Christians have an issue with somebody, the single most common response is to simply cut ties with that person altogether and walk away. Of course I’m still waiting on somebody to demonstrate to me where that is Scripturally sound, but I digress.
     In my time on the road, I have seen people turned out by their Christian brothers over decisions they have made that crossed the line into sin. These people instantly became like lepers to their church, or depending on their level of visibility, to the Christian community as a whole. Now nobody is excusing or endorsing sin, but are these actions really in line with the Savior who sat down and had dinner with sinners (Matt 9: 10)? Or the one who told the woman caught in adultery “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”? (John 8: 1-11).

     I have also seen minor issues destroy marriages, ministries, and relationships, simply because one party or both were too filled with pride to be able to say, “Hey, I was wrong. Can you forgive me?” Or the other party was unwilling to grant the forgiveness requested of them. Or both.

     So what is the Scriptural admonishment for handling conflicts? Matthew 18: 15-17 is very clear on the matter: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

     Are you listening? Yes, there is a time when you cut your ties and walk away, but only after taking the two previous steps. Firstly, we have an issue with someone; we go to them and bring it to light. Hopefully they hear us, the issue is resolved, and the relationship is restored. If they do not listen, we aren’t off the hook just yet….we go back to them a second attempt, this time bringing witnesses. If that doesn’t fly, we bring the issue before the church, and if they still refuse to listen, at that point, and only that point, are we granted permission to walk away from them and don’t look back.
    Unfortunately, we are far too often guilty of skipping right over the first two verses and going right to the last part. For whatever reason we are either unable to take the necessary steps toward reconciliation (which is pretty bad), or we are unwilling (which is inexcusable).
     How we as Christians treat each other is a powerful testimony before the world. What does it say about us when, instead of seeking healing and restoration, that we choose to go our separate ways in bitterness and resentment? How does it make us look when minor disagreements or issues prove beyond our ability to overcome and heal? And what does it tell the rest of the world when the example set is that everything will be okay just as long as you say and do everything correctly? Who in their right mind would want to be a part of any body of believers that lived by that kind of deal?

     We need to be willing to confront, to hear, and to do the right thing. It may be hard to go to somebody and tell them you messed up, but do it anyway. It is the right thing to do. I firmly believe that in most cases, the other party will be all too willing to listen, and that is the point where restoration begins. Then again, they may not hear you, but you can walk away knowing you did the right thing, and you’ll be surprised at how much lighter the load is.

     What if you’re on the other side and somebody comes to you and says, hey, I screwed up, I apologize, and will you forgive me?  I don’t know about you, but that is one of the few situations in life that I don’t have to even pray about. We are commanded to forgive as Christ has forgiven us, and Christ doesn’t put conditions or trial periods or any other stipulations on forgiveness. When we repent and ask Him for forgiveness for our trespasses, He grants it freely, and tosses it as far as the east is from the west. Why then should we do any less when someone makes the same request of us?

     It isn’t often talked about, but I wholeheartedly believe that the lack of conflict resolution is one of the biggest problems facing the church today. It is my prayer that more of us will develop the courage, the fortitude, to face these problems head on, coupled with the desire to see healing and restoration among our churches, marriages, and relationships.

     I’ve said it before, and I close with it now….as Christians, we are all family, and at the end of the day we are going to be spending eternity together. With that little nugget in mind, how then do we defend the practice of holding grudges or ill will towards anybody else while we are here? What say you?

[Note: Darrell can be reached for musical engagements and other things at or on Facebook by clicking here: Darrell Ritchie]

Art and the Church

This has nothing to do with my good college friend, Art Munson. Instead I was reading a blog by Blaine Hogan about how we should allow our artists to be pastors and inspire others with the mystery contained in scripture. His ideas gave me something to think about as I travel to a new church, but as I read his article my mind made more connections than he had written. Perhaps the connection was implied, but as I read Hogan’s thoughts about artists and the church of the 21st century, all I could think about was Europe and the 17th century. Okay, not just the 17th century but a whole chunk of history when there was only one church and much of life revolved around the church. I remembered my art classes (those few I was required to take), the architecture of the great cathedrals that I have seen and I remembered discussing these magnificent buildings in seminary.

For centuries, artists were a part of the church community. With the rigidity of their ritual, I doubt that artists were involved in worship as they sometimes are today, but just look at where they were involved. In the cathedrals that our forbearers left behind, there are demonstrations of the skills and talents of magnificent artists of all kinds, people skilled with glass, with stone, sculpture, architecture, sound, and light. Many of the great composers of these centuries created music for the church or wrote for the glory of God. As I read Hogan’s blog I wondered, ‘Why don’t we see artists in our churches like this today?” Surely there are still people of great skill and talent in our communities. Surely God is still in the business of dispensing this skill and talent to his people, the people who are likely attending church somewhere. So why is art so inconspicuous in the church?

I admit that there are places like Willow Creek and Saddleback that have fabulous bands and multimedia presentations and who invite dancers and other artists to bring God praise. What comes to mind are all the churches that exist only in the practical. They look plain on the outside and on the inside they look like they were decorated by me (that’s not a good thing). I spent a career in engineering and my first instinct is toward the practical, functional and the useful. Terms like colorful and inspiring do not roll off of my tongue easily. But if God is still inspiring artists among God’s people as he surely did three centuries ago, what must they be thinking? If even I think that the inside of our churches look kind of colorless and plain, we must be causing great pain and sorrow in the hearts of our artists.

Either that, or we’re chasing them away.

God has given artists an ability to communicate his love to the world through human passion and emotion instead of only logic and reason. Could it be that the artists in our community feel unwelcome before they even step through the door of our church? God has seen fit to give me some facility with the spoken and written word, but while music speaks to my heart, I have only a limited ability to use it. Don’t even ask me to create or even understand the visual arts. We live in a multimedia culture and the hearts of humanity must be reached through the languages of art and inspiration but somewhere, in the last century or two, the church forgot something. Somehow, too many of us thought that the age of reason meant that words alone could convince the world of our sincerity and communicate God’s message but doing so forgets about communicating the wonder and the mystery of God. Doing so neglects the heart and the passion that speaks to the souls of humanity.

If we want to tell the world about God’s love for them, we need our artists back.

We need to reach beyond the functional, beyond the logical and touch the hearts of people in ways that reason and practicality cannot. Our churches need to welcome our artists home again. We must make our church a place where artists are free to use their gifts to communicate God’s love to the world. As a pastor, I must do what I can to make artists welcome in my church because our artists can reach the hearts of people in ways that my words never will.