Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flickering Pixels: CH 1

Prophets expose the ills of society, knowing responses will be less than cordial. A recent study of Amos, a reluctant prophet (see 7:14), helped me identify some subversive attitudes in our culture. Entitlement, Luxury, Comfort, and Efficiency have all become False Gospels. The fruit of these attitudes is a nation of shopping-mall churches and self-serve, self-help, spiritual pit stops.

It's too easy to go to church without accountability and relationship. While the attitudes are to blame, technology is the vehicle by which these attitudes are reinforced.

As ironic as it sounds, one of my study guides for the book of Amos was a work entitled Technopoly by Neil Postman (Vintage: 1993). Postman traced the advent of two simple inventions--the Western alphabet and the clock--to our modern Gospel of Efficiency.

Postman pointed me to Plato's record of Theuth and Thames, the former an inventor, the latter a king. Theuth presented his invention of the alphabet as 'a sure receipt for memory and wisdom.' But the king disagreed, claiming that users of the alphabet 'will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful.'

The technology of writing uses us: we become forgetful. The technology of spell check uses us: we beecome gramatikal imbeecils. Technology always has the potential to reverse its intentions.

In the first chapter of Flickering Pixels, "Mr. No Depth Perception," Hipps begins his prophecy, exposing our culture's ignorance "that the system of visual communication has the capacity to shape and influence faith" (pg. 17). Borrowing from a Saturday Night Live sketch and employing the literature of Plato and Postman, Hipps begins to sketch his 'theology of technology' (pg. 18).

Technology always has unintended consequences. For as much fruit as it produces, some spoils fall to the ground. The early technology of music and song (Genesis 4:21, 25; Exodus 15) may degenerate into idol worship (Exodus 32).

Hipps calls Christians to live with focused perception, both eyes open (pg. 21). Shutting our eyes to every new invention may limit our ability to interact with the garden God has placed us in. Trying to adopt and adapt every new technology will kill us or those around us (see Genesis 4:1-17). That is why I won't join Facebook.

"Technology both gives an takes away, and each new medium introduced into our lives must be evaluated," Hipps counsels (pg. 21). Good advice. Keep both eyes open.

Questions to consider:
  • Is technology amoral?
  • How should we evaluate the usefulness of a given tool?
  • How have new communication technologies (e.g. blogs), unintentionally harmed your relationships?
  • Do you remember anything?
Integrity Check (these words included)
Hipps Words: 40
My Words: 444
Percentage: 9.1%

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