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

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Next Story: Chapter 2

Yesterday's post was pretty long, but necessary to touch on most of the chapter. Thankfully chapter two doesn't go to so many different topics; rather the aim of chapter two is to understand technology and how it shapes cultures.

Tim opens the chapter by discussing how new technologies always involve risk and opportunity. As a society we tend to focus more on the opportunity of new technologies while the risks may not become apparent for years down the road, "[we] find ourselves naturally drawn to the benefits and opportunities...but rarely pause to consider the risks" (pg 36).

Example: I remember when we first got cell phones we were excited to not have to worry about missing a call from a customer or if the car broke down we could call for help. That's the opportunity. The risk? Never missing a call. Once people know you have a cell phone there becomes this expectation that you're going to answer it 24/7. You go long enough like that and you end up feeling naked if you don't have your phone.

Every technology solves some problems while also introducing new ones
(pg 36)

By focusing only on the benefits and blindly embracing new technologies we tend to be slowly, subtably changed by them. The change is imperceptable if you're not looking for it.

We do not really understand American Idol until we understand how it has shaped us...We will not have understood the internet until we've studied and understood the subtle messages it feeds our minds and our worldviews as we interact with it and use it day after day.
(pg 39)

Technology is Ecological & Biological
Tim goes on to state that technology is "not additive but ecological," that is to say that new technologies are not simply added to our lives but have the power and tendency to reshape our lives. Is this not the case? How many of us saw the internet reach the general public while we were in middle school, high school, or in our early college years? Do you remember what it was like to have to go to the library, use the card index, & then locate a book when you wanted to know something?

Now all I've got to do is fire up my browser of choice and millions of websites seek to give me the answer I'm looking for. Now that I've been on the internet for 13-14 years it's become normal to me. I expect the immediacy of Google results. The internet didn't just add to our lives - by in large it has replaced the way we used to do things. My son will probably never use a card index. References to the Dewey Decimal System are practically lost on him.

Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing - I love getting answers quickly. But here is the bad thing as I see it - we have come to expect everything to come quickly and easily. I remember when I was writing a research paper my senior year of high school - I had stacks of books and articles to dig through. I spent hours on that sucker. I was focused, I was determined to find what I needed.

Now? I'm certainly more scatter brained than I was when I was 17; I know some of that is just age and the fact that I've got kids, but surely part of it is that now I'm used to getting info right away. Having to dig for answers? Frustrating. Heck, I can barely focus on one thing at a time anymore - I've trained myself to be thinking about a zillion different things at once, and when I need to think about one thing my mind tends to wander.

And here's what I'm wondering: How has this retraining of my mind effected the way I look at Scripture? Am I willing to plumb the depths, to wade in with single minded determination to learn of the One who saved me? Or am I scatterbrained here as well? Am I thinking of what I'm going to make for dinner, what the kids need to do after school, the client's calls I need to return and the errands I need to run all while I'm on my knees before God? How much of this is because some part of me doesn't want to be on my knees before God, and how much of this is because I've trained myself to be incapable of simply being "still and knowing [He] is God"?

After years of self induced ADD is it any wonder we, the Church, are prone to want entertainment and slick slideshows during our services? Now, I know that on some level this entertainment mindset as probably always existed - after all, we've all been sinners since the Garden - but it seems to me, based on conversations I've had with people who grew up in churches before the advent of PowerPoint that our need desire for flashy things to hold our interest is much higher than previous generations.

What's worse is that we rarely think about it. Have I ever come away from a service and thought "I just didn't get much out of the sermon today" and it's because there wasn't anything else for me to think about? You get used to chaos and eventually peace seems unsettling.

My Previous Posts on The Next Story
Chapter 1