Not only has Instagram planted itself firmly onto the social media landscape, but it's become an established part of the daily practices and habits of our lives. With a third of US 14-34s now apparently using Instagram and over 300,000,000 users worldwide, the photo-editing and sharing app has become a household name as well as an online phenomenon.
But why is Instagram so popular and how should we be engaging with it? That’s what Filtered Grace is all about.
In a series of short reflections, Robin Ham suggests the Christian worldview both makes sense of Instagram's prevalence, as well as speaking compellingly into Instagram culture's aches and longings. Drawing on themes like common grace, redemption, sin, worship and identity, Filtered Grace seeks to help us affirm the good, examine our own hearts, and critically engage with an app and activity that has become a staple part of our lives.
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'Filtered Grace' Contents:
Introduction: My Instagram Confessional
1: A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words and A Billion Dollars: The Story Behind Instagram
2: Sharing is Declaring: How Instagram Shows We Were Made To Praise
3: Being Where We Are: Social Media & Learning Creatureliness
4: I Selfie Therefore I Am: Putting Me In The Frame
5: Fingerprints on the Screen: ‘Gramming with Gratitude
6: Conceal, Don’t Feel: Living in a World of Salvation by Filter
7: Beautiful Bodies, Hungry Eyes & Disordered Desires
8: God’s Selfie and Why Seeing is Not Always Believing
Robin's one of those people who finds writing his bio in the third person slightly strange, so in a unprecedented move that probably indicates the individualistic cultural air he breathes, let's turn this thang around.
I put together Filtered Grace because I found myself fascinated with Instagram (including perhaps slightly addicted) and, as a Christian, I wanted to consider why.
I've blogged at That Happy Certainty since 2006, on culture, theology and ministry, and one of the things that normally gets me pretty stoked is opening up the Bible with people to see why the person of Jesus Christ is outrageously good news.
I wrote Filtered Grace whilst studying for an MA as part of my training for ordained ministry at Oak Hill Theological College, London. I'm now involved in church-planting in Cumbria and before seminary spent some time in church ministry with (mostly) students and young adults in London and Cheltenham (England), having studied Theology at Durham University.
Along the way I married Zoe, who, as it happens, is a lethal proofreader.
Amongst my greatest achievements I will happily list having my first band played on Chinese radio, becoming a dad, and being told I've got the dress-sense of an Oxfam model. If you want to win my heart, then slice me up an avocado and pour me a banana milkshake; I'm yours.
"An intelligent and uplifting look at how the Christian worldview enables us to make sense of the ins and outs of this popular app... Interesting, and helpful in making sense of what drives me to share my filtered pictures with the world... It’s a good read whether you are a Christian or not."
- Naomi Clemo (@NimClem), Pastoral Assistant, Cambray Baptist Church
"A pithy, important eBook thinking about what the Christian Gospel has to say to the world of Instagram... a wonderful snapshot of what it means to apply the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, to an area of human activity, in this case, Instagram."
- Thomas Creedy (@ThomasCreedy), PA to the President, London School of Theology
"A great lil ebook about Instagram. Great read, especially for those of us who love beautiful things and taking pictures of beautiful things..."
- Gabrielle Samuel (@gabbie_sammie), Brixton Local Church & London City Mission
"An intriguing ebook about Instagram... worth checking out".
- Mark Meynell (@Quaerentia), Senior Associate Minister, All Souls Langham Place
"Even though I don't personally use Instagram I still found the book applicable and thought provoking to my life and faith."
- David Blain, Top bloke and brother-in-law to the author