Taking the “Selfie Challenge”

Craig Detweiler, Selfies: Searching for the Image of God in a Digital Age (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2018).

How do you view yourself? Do selfies bolster or undercut those feelings? What does God say and feel about you? – Craig Detweiler, Selfies (27)


If you follow the Emerging Scholars Network on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll remember that last week I posted a series of quotes from Craig Detweiler’s Selfies: Searching for the Image of God in a Digital Age. My motivation was for us to wrap up the summer and engage the new academic year well.

Craig Detweiler’s reflections and practices assist us not only in remembering with praise / gratitude who the Lord has created / called us to be (serving with head, heart, and hands in a particular context), but also as we have opportunity to invite others to hear our story / testimony as a child of God part of the reality of God’s work in the creation. My experience of dropping off our first child headed to college inspired me to write a short reflection on Selfies.


It probably does not surprise you that I understand selfies (and digital communications in general) as “a form of autobiography–not just where we’ve been and what we’ve done but also what it all means” (90). Yes, knowing who I am in relationship to what it all means is a vital part of all of life, but especially amid the many voices found in digital communication. As Craig writes, “Introspection is required to transform photographs of events into autobiography. It requires discipline and determination and honesty” (90). In the face of digital communication, it is necessary for us to take a step back to evaluate how we (individually and as a community) interact with whom, including God. Take some time this weekend to try this exercise:

If you had to limit your life to just three or four photos or scenes, what would they be? Do you have a selfie that fills in the blank, ‘I am _______” (99)

A Challenge

I invite you to join me this academic year in embracing the challenge to:

Approach photography as a sacred craft and a potential form of prayer. . . . [Let us] bring an attitude of gratitude and worship into our daily lives (190).

For some initial equipping, read and discuss Chapter 1 of Selfies with a small group of friends. AND yes, you are welcome to comment below.

Whether or not you continue to Chapter 2, which explores beauty in the ancient world, I encourage you to read / discuss the lives of Narcissus and Echo (Ovid, Metamorphoses). Ask to whom you most relate, whether you find selfies bolstering or undercutting how you understand yourself as a child of God, loved by God and called to be an Emerging Scholar. Prayerfully consider how you not only love of God and others, but also receive the love of God in the world of digital communications / selfies.

Look into the [smartphone] lens as if you’re gazing into the loving eyes of Jesus. Now snap (201).

To God be the glory!

Note: As you have photos to share, please contact the Emerging Scholars Network. Thank-you.

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!

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