By shifting discussions with ease between biblical scholars like Walter Brueggemann to theologians like Jacques Ellul and Karl Barth, and from technologist and theologian (whom Detweiler especially fancies) Kevin Kelly to poking on Facebook and the goat version of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” Detweiler does what he has become known for: he takes seriously the phenomenon of popular culture. He is less interested in the ethical concerns regarding the innovations themselves (though he does give these concerns some attention throughout the book), his primary emphasis lies in the practical reality that millions of people are utilizing these technologies every second of everyday.
Although Detweiler does bring Wendell Berry (who famously does not own a computer) and Jacques Ellul (who is so known for his general disgust with technology) to the table in his discussion, it is clear that, while he respects their cautions, he is too enmeshed in the system to abide fully in their combat of technology. When I asked about this tension, Detweiler said:
While I deeply respect the sustainability articulated by Berry, I am probably too much of a city slicker to ever get truly back to the land. And while I can admire the intellect of Ellul, I am far too inside the Hollywood storytelling machinery to cut myself off from new technologies. I write as someone who has been strangely moved by the empire of entertainment. Perhaps I will regret the compromises inherent in my calling, but I am decidedly a citizen of this time and era as well as the kingdom to come. IGods is an effort to foster sustainable practices with our smart phones. Folly perhaps to Mr. Berr or Dr. Ellul, but essential for my own peace of mind.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading iGods and believe it brings to the surface some of the most pressing issues of our time. As the dust continues to settle in the Information Age and we further acquiesce our lives to ever-evolving technologies, Detweiler presents an astute perspective that dually avoids blind embrace as well as stubborn discount of today’s most important technologies. At times, my inner Wendell Berry was discomforted, feeling some of Detweiler’s critiques weren’t strong enough, but equally I was reassured as he integrates care for and attention to a biblical narrative that is often celebrated by technology even though a nagging dark side is never far away. Hopefully, Craig Detweiler encourages others to continue the push and pull and give and take necessary to sustain this ever-changing dialogue regarding an ever-evolving world, and will force each of us to pause in the midst of our technologically obsessed days to reflect on the presence of God in every moment amidst whatever technology we may find ourselves utilizing.