Technology & Faith
Technology has an uneasy relationship with Faith. At one level they appear diametrically apposed. Where faith is embued with ideas of tradition, stability and absolutes, technology on the other hand conjures up images of incessant change, cutting edges and the unknown.
Technology in history
In one setting technology was the catalyst that allowed Martin Luther’s transforming ideas to reach unimaginable masses through the very modern (at the time) and certainly revolutionary method of disseminating the very Words of God efficiently and cheaply with the printing press.
At another point in our recent history the advent of television was seen as the very incarnation of the Devil himself as it progressively changed the very structures of family life and cohesion through its hypnotic and seductive offerings. Rather belatedly the Church caught on and started to use the medium to its own advantage or not depending on the particular programming and personalities involved!
In our present time we are already well advanced in the next geat technological leap forward as we leave the broadcast media and embrace the digital space not as mere recipients of information but as fully fledged contributors and creators as well.
Good or bad thing?
But can these seeming opposites and ill-adjusted couple form an enduring partnership in the context of our Christian Faith?
I think the answer is Yes. Yes, we have no choice – the egg has been cracked and the omelette has been whipped up. “It aint going back in the shell”. It’s also “Yes, but…”, because we are able to control the message and contribute in ways that were never possible before. We are able to learn from recent miss-steps and wrong thinking about technology and discover that great changes in the cultures that Christianity has been apart of have always occurred. Example of this will be shared in later blogs. Truely there is nothing new under the sun in that regard. Technology and the new knowledge that it often creates has seen Science move from ally of the Christian worldview, to enemy, to just an aloof opinionated adolescent at present. Our seminaries have become cemeteries in many cases as they have buried Jesus [again] in an attempt to be relevant to Post Modern Man.
The answer is also No. No, you can’t just have a virtual relationship with Our Lord, and No, I don’t quite think that where two or three are gathered virtually – there is God also. Although some could probably mount a pretty strong argument for what being “everywhere” means. Jokes aside, I think at a very real level, human beings do need to be in the same physical space to carry out some very important types of communication. For the simple fact that we were designed for that type of communication. The body language, the eye contact, the subtle tones and body movements that inflect nuance and meaning to the communication. The hugs and cuddles and tissues offered are all better done in the flesh and blood. Praying can be done in a virtual space or side by side. Prayer has its own virtual properties. One day we will leave these flesh and bone bodies to one side. For now it makes sense to use them wisely while we can.
The whole point here is not “either/or”, but “and/also”.
I am slowly getting over being tee’d off seeing whole train carriages and bus cabins filled with totally switched off commuters. Switched off in the sense that they are plugged in to one sliver of plastic or another and oblivious to everything around them as they travel to work and school or to “see” a friend. Of course far from being switched off they are tuned in, on program and in control, at least at one level of experience. Certainly is is a rarer sight to see/hear a conversation struck up with a random commuter that you may never meet again. It still occurs with the our more senior citizens but much less with younger generations. Some describe our behaviours as more tribal now and we only associate with those in our groups and stay plugged in to them almost continuously with our wireless portable devices. Others might say that modern man and woman are just consumers of the prevailing technologies and have just adapted so they could stay connected.
Whatever the sets of circumstances are that are propelling the tech revolution, most commentators don’t see any way of putting the genie back in the bottle. Social bi-directional communication seems to be here to stay unless someone has the power to pull the cord and unravel the web.
So that is a brief introduction into this page. As opportunity permits I will post articles on how some true pioneers or heretics as some choose to label themselves have forged a passage into the new mission fields of Post Christian Western culture. Using technology collaboratively and creatively they are breaking through the airwaves and data packets streaming through the ether to reconnect to Christians that have lost their religion or trying to find it with the search engines at their disposal.