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  1. Hello everyone, friends, trolls, denizens & members of the OBS Community, Some here can trace our connexions with OBS back over 15 years: from old IPLY BB, when hyperlinks were the fad to this current community that the men and women, owners and employees of OBS nurture. We have and will continue to gather. For others this is a new community and I am most grateful for your presence in this evolving community. A place that - in my experience - has and does build valuable and rich relationship that often cross the divide between cyber and 'real life.' In this time people come and go and it is with a most heavy heart that I am sharing that tarna - a long time fixture and voice of calm, once a moderator and always generous of spirit - has died. I am currently trying to connect further with his family - I would check-in with him every few months as he battled with an aggressive illness - and OBS and will share developments, details and possible ways to respond to our loss as is appropriate. As today proceeds into the next day, please be gentle with those you call friend here, perhaps strike up a new connexion with a member who is new. In your lives beyond these boards, may you embrace those whom you love and care for the stranger in your midst. tarna – for me – was in many the ways the epitome of this community. Generous, caring and lived with a dignity that allowed others to shine – as I so hope you to do and shall. With respect & heavy-heart, Fionavar Update #1: I have sent a message to the family and will hopefully hear from them soon. I have shared this thread with them and will update once I hear back from them and share that with which they are comfortable to allow. Update #2: Hello everyone, I wanted to share two things. One is the obituary for Scott/tarna. It can be found here: http://obits.dignity...71448&FHID=4386. I sincerely this helps with your/our grieving. I have also shared with the family the link to this thread and have passed on your care and concern. As well, as Sargy wished, I shared that we also hope they might come to see the impact he had on our lives. Second, I wanted to share a recent blog I wrote. I have been blogging now for about 6 years and, in particular, from a faith based perspective: A Deacon's Musing. I pray that the copy of that blog, called A Deacon's Musing|Scott imparts some of my own reflection and honours the man whom we mourn. with respect, Richard When tears fall & souls weep. When grief strikes & questions abound. May we (who r able) respond with care & may those who need - be embraced (Verses|May 2013) 15 years give or take a few solar revolutions … that’s how long I had the privilege to call Scott a friend. Though at first I knew him by the nickname he used in our online community as tarna, once we began to work with one another and then connect on the phone, PM, IM, and through various digital media our relationship matured from digital acquaintance to friendship. Scott was one of the bravest men I have ever known. He fought with an illness so aggressive that required frequent surgery and caused pain that sometimes I could hear it in his voice that I was not only humbled every time I phoned him, but his joie de vivre was a blessing. I will miss you Scott/tarna. And for those of you for whom relationships are grounded in the digital, never listen to that voice that says such connexions are ‘less than’ or not ‘real.’ The tears I have experienced at learning of the death of my friend have been most real and I know that Scott is now free of the pain with which he choose to live with dignity. Perhaps the first paragraph is as much a testimonial of loss as it is a catalyst for reflection about my faith and what I might need to learn, to share with the church. Faith & church: they are intimately connected, how I live out individually what I understand to be a reflection of the Holy will obviously inform the way I walk into the human institution called church. My relationship with Scott was grounded in a place and in a way that some see as ‘less than’ or ‘not real.’ I have been online for the better part of 2 decades and have friends from around the world, many of whom I only know digitally. These relationships are as valuable and life-giving to me as those which I have the gift to be able to embrace with physical touch. tarna’s illness did not define him, but it allowed him to model a generosity of spirit that I know affected others. His questions of concern for others in our online community not only speaks to his own compassion for others, but mirrors how such a place creates reciprocal relationships. Where mutuality in these democratic and sometimes frenetic places becomes an expectation grounded in freedom to be who we know we want to be. Sometimes, the most authentic person we long to be flourishes in these places that are free of the addictions, distractions, dysfunctions that are our lives in the ‘real world.’ Sometimes the ‘real world’ only shadows who we know we want to be – who we truly are – and an online community can embrace the ‘real’ you in ways that are life-giving and soul celebrating. As a person of faith, therefore, Scott modelled for me in this digital environment that it’s not what you believe that matters, it’s how you treat strangers: strangers in an online community are nameless and faceless at first. They might live next door or on the other side of the globe. How you treat the nameless are the seeds of friendship and that is just one way that I will honour this friendship. What I then take to the church is this, it’s not whether or not we should be testifying and evangelising the Good News in this environments – it’s the public commons of a new age and unless we’re there engaged, then we’re obsolete. For those who will follow, this is where we’ll meet them first. What we MUST ask, therefore, is ‘why.’ If our answer is about wanting to boost numbers or some double-speak agenda of conversion and coercion, not only do I want no part of such a reply, I believe it is theologically flawed. There is an entire generation, now almost two, who have no grounding in organised religion, for whom the rituals that mark death are few and far between and who are already– appropriately so –wary of those who peddle saccharine. Judgement laden and cheap faith. If our ‘why,’ however, is about wanting to help people shine, to help people transform from what the world tells them, that bullies into a conforming and controlling consumer mould where the common denominator must deny uniqueness, then I say let’s get to the business of sharing the Good News. In places online – from chat groups, Skype, social media platforms and a plethora of real-time communication – people are gravitating to spaces and places that promise to offer community and change. And I believe that the church that longs to help people awaken to the gift they are has something to contribute in such spaces. Whether or not we’re ready, however, doesn’t matter. It’s already happening, we just need to ask ourselves ‘why’ … the rest will be what it will be … RIP Scott/tarna Faith is the unspoken confidence in a threaded reality that defies word compartments. Belief is the construction of compartments (A Pres-bit|@wpgpres)
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