Distraction Sickness

If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation.

Andrew Sullivan is a controversial writer who uses illustrations that may be offensive to some readers, but his article on modern struggles with technology is our latest link for the Signs of the Times.

from New York Magazine

 

Crash Course

Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, (53-56)

Richard Dawkins, the famed British scientist and atheist, believes in Progress (with a capital “P”). He concedes the Shoah was a “temporary setback” for humanity, but nothing to fret about in the long run. In his view of history, religious faith is in full rout (though still, to his mind, terribly dangerous), material welfare is on the rise, and goodness and peace are coming in every way. Supremely confident in the power of Science (with a capital “S”), Dawkins assures his readers that, “our brains…are big enough to see into the future and plot long-term consequences.”

Progress has been a dogma of modernity since at least the time of Francis Bacon, and it has real staying power. It’s just a lot harder to believe in it now that Science and Technology (with a capital “T”) have shown themselves to be two-edged swords. Read more

What God Intends

Milton Wright was a Bishop in the Church of the Brethren, traveling throughout his denomination until his death in 1917. He is reported to have said that if God intended human beings to fly, he would have given us wings. We know from history that his sons, Orville and Wilbur, thought otherwise.

At times, I find myself thinking this way. I think that if God intended us to have this or that new technology, surely God would have provided it. For example, I care little for cell phones, and only own one jointly with Gayle. If God intended us to talk anywhere, any time, surely we’d have “blue tooth” phones fitted to our ears when we were born. And I find myself thinking this way when it comes to oil and coal. I figure that if God intended us to put carbon into the air, then God surely would not have taken so long and worked so hard to fold these materials deep into the earth. I wonder if God really wants them to be taken from the bowels of the earth and used as we use them.

There I go, thinking like Bishop Wright again. Read more

Telephones and What is Good for Us

David Kline is an Amish man. He insists that Amish people are not understood. Amish people are maligned for being against all forms of modern technology. That is not true, he says. Rather, the Amish use only those technologies that, in their best judgment, do not harm their community life.

For example, lanterns are not allowed on their farm field equipment. With lanterns they would be tempted to work into the night hours. And working in the fields past sunset would weaken their family life and would overwork their horses.

Several years ago the question came up about whether David Kline’s community would use telephones. Everyone in the church—the community—met and discussed it a number of times. It took all summer for them to decide whether they would have phones. They finally decided against it. And they had two reasons. Read more