Gleanings of Wheat: A Blog dedicated to cooking, kids, and Christ

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Next Story: Chapter 1

I'm a big fan of writing in books - I know some people are completely horrified by that, but for me it is a huge indication of how much a book is making me think. If a book is really picking at my brain/heart there's marks all over the place - this is precisely why I hate the library. Don't get me wrong, the cheapskate in me loves not having to pay for books, but then I have to constantly write down interesting quotes on a paper. It's such a hassle. Recently I've taken to Facebook messaging myself the quotes, that way I don't have to risk losing them or having my kids color all over them.

What does this have to do with The Next Story? As I was reading the first chapter I was especially glad that Zondervan gave me this book...lines and notes galore.

Chips Off the Ol' Block & Mythic Proportions
Tim starts of the chapter with a story about how his son paces through the house when he is on the phone and how Tim realized that it is because he also paces while he is on the phone. His point was simply that we inherit traits from our parents. We were created in the image of God and because of that fact we - even in our fallen state - exhibit traits of Him.

God, the Creator of all that exists, saw fit to share with us many of his divine attributes...We are able to love...And we are able to create.
(pg 22)

Just as God created all things, as His children we have the desire to create. For some of us it is art. For some of us it may play out in the form of creating a new move in sports. Others will create music. In all cases, we create because God has given us this desire. Tim goes on to say that, "Technology is simply the practical result of the creative process."

I don't know about you, but that really struck me. I guess I don't think often about the creativity that is displayed in the technology that surrounds me. I'm so used to things like cell phones, Netflix, online banking, and even the internet at large existing that I forget that things like this weren't really around 20 years ago.

Now, that isn't to say that it never occurs to me - every time I see something awesome in the web design realm I'm struck by the creativity of it, but eventually the awe fades and I simply expect to see new concepts implemented everywhere.

This acceptance of technologies as the norm is what Tim calls "mythic":

When a technology has become mythic, we no longer view it as a strange outsider to our lives. We forget that it was invented by humans, that it was introduced into society by humans
(pg 26-27)

This acceptance happens because it is easier to adapt our lives to the new technology than to fight the tide. "[We] assume that we must or should change to accommodate the new technology...We give technology the power to shape and fashion us, remaking ourselves in its image." (pg 27) This is precisely how something we've created can ensnare our hearts. Things created to serve us instead become our taskmasters.

The Morality of Technology
Though they enable us to survive and thrive in a fallen world, the very aid they provide can deceive us with a false sense of comfort and security, hiding our need for God and his grace.
(pg 24)

This quote, of course, reminded me of my phone-less weekend. My phone is a good thing, it allows me to communicate, it allows me to look up information I need when I'm on the road, it allows me to take photos to remember things that are going on...but somewhere along the line I began to rely upon it, to trust it, and that's where things went haywire.

Tim goes on to talk about how something that was created for good can enable us to become enslaved to sin. The person consumed with lust can find countless ways of fanning that flame on their own, but you add a computer and the internet into the mix and the addiction can be taken to a whole new level.

Tim wisely advises that we must be "[d]iscerning the intended use of a technology, examining our own use of it, and reflecting on these purposes in light of Scripture" (pg 25). Tim goes back to his preface example of Tsar Bomba and how the energy from that device had a crippling effect on the landscape, yet had the technology been put to use with a different purpose in mind the energy could have provided heat for countless people.

The same technology that allows doctors to operate on an unborn child, repairing its body within the womb, allows those doctors to also tear the baby from the womb. In other words, it is not the technology itself that is good or evil, it is the human application of that technology.
(pg 25, emphasis mine)

Since the human application of technology is such an important factor in how it gets used, it stands to reason that Christians ought to "restrain it and we must redeem it" (pg 25, Albert Borgmann, emphasis mine). We must redeem technology. I know often there is a fear of new technologies, but if we're to influence and guide society shouldn't we be seeking to use new advances in ways that would benefit the world as a whole? Tim rightly says we must exercise discernment - our hearts are wicked and deceitful, prone to creating of idols, and we must be wise as we engage and create new technologies that we're doing so with a heart that is humbly reliant upon the master Creator.

The allure of a new technology isn't simply the appeal of something shiny and bright, with buttons and lights. It's a desire that arises within my heart. And it can be incredibly powerful. It can be an idol.

Our idols like to hide from us, staying at a place in our hearts where we barely notice their existence. And yet, when we pause to consider their place in our lives, we simply cannot imagine life without them.
(pg 28)

I don't have a proper ending to this post - I promise to try and do better tomorrow - so I'm going to leave you with some quotes from the chapter that I thought were really interesting. I'm not, however, typing up an entire passage that reminded me of the movie Terminator. If you want to read that pick up the book.

Other Interesting Quotes
God is glorified in our creativity, whether that leads us to craft a painting that moves our hearts to praise or to design a plow that will better allow us to plant and harvest a crop. (pg 23)

What becomes mythic is only one step removed from becoming idolatrous. (pg 27)

Instead, our modern idols reflect our inner desires for comfort, security, significance, and ultimately salvation. (pg 29)

My Previous Posts on The Next Story