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December 2011

Six degrees of Christmas "Glad tidings" (Or is it 4.74?)

Forget "six degrees of separation". The real number is 4.74! This idea that only a handful of people separate everyone on Earth was popularized by John Guare's early '90s play "Six Degrees of Separation."

So when did six become 4.74? Facebook's data analysis team recently released the results of what it calls "the largest social-networking study ever" and discovered that only 4.74 people separate strangers from each other. Why? The thanks go largely to Facebook itself, of course, as well as other modern social networks. What does this mean for our work at Luther?

During their studies and after they leave our halls, Luther's students reach people around the world. Nearly 300 Luther alums are living in foreign countries. These people then spread the gospel even further. This new research means that Luther Seminary is equipping students to reach even more individuals through their own social networks.

According to the Facebook data team, "When considering even the most distant Facebook user in the Siberian tundra or the Peruvian rainforest, a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend." There are more than seven thousand alums currently serving the church. Just imagine the reach each of those has through their 4.74 degrees of separation!

On that first Christmas evening, only a few shepherds—with limited social media tools at best—were gathered in the fields for the angels' proclamation. Today the possibilities for spreading the Christmas message are staggering.

So pass on the Christmas message this season—to a friend:
"Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manager" (Luke 2:10-11).

Remember 4.74! "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors."

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