As a result of some recent conversations, I picked up Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. I stayed up and read about a third of it last night with delight. A number of questions were fostered in the back of my mind. I guess the ultimate question, that I hope gets answered (or at least clarified) is how we should respond to the onslaught of new technology. I recognise that a culture can be dominated by a technopoly, as our North American culture surely is. But how do we either neglect technological innovations when necessary, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Or, how do we accept new technologies without being swept up in the tide, ultimately to be overwhelmed? Christians are notoriously ones who jump on a bandwagon after everyone has jumped off. And, we’re the ones who gluttonously accept cultural phenomena without a second thought about the damage done to us and our community.
Tim Challies has a through provoking post (Don’t Take Your iPod to Church – is this a play on Johnny Cash’s “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town??) asking his readers not to bring their e-bible readers to church with them. His rationale is along the McLuhan-esque, “The medium is the message” line. Recently Tim’s interests have gravitated to technology. He also recently wrote a book on discernment, and knowing him personally, I see that he is quite a discerning and wise guy (the latter in both senses of the phrase!). I’m anxious to read Tim’s thoughts on these issues as I think they’ll be challenging and careful.
Is taking an e-reader to church a signal of the church’s captivity to technopoly, or is it a means of utilising a tool towards a positive end? I honestly don’t know at this point, but I’m anxious to find out. Hopefully Tim’ll be of use. If not, I’ll punch him in the arm at church in the coming weeks.