Archives For Technology

 

Watch the book trailer video for one of 
this week’s best new book releases:

The Tech-Wise Family:
Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place

Andy Crouch

Hardback: Baker Books, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

A great conversation introducing the book…
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Disengaging in order to Flourish

 
A Feature Review of

The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World
Christina Crook

Paperback: New Society Publishers, 2015.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle]

 

Reviewed by Ryan Johnson.

 

The gentle sounds emanating from my smartphone alert me to the fact that it is time for me to wake up. I go ahead and disconnect it from its power source and crawl out of bed. Throughout the day my phone will serve to remind me what meetings I have, emails I need to respond to, and texts that are vying for my attention. On top of that, it will serve as an entertainment source for when I’m bored (or for when I want to procrastinate) and a way to keep in touch with friends through social media. For all of these services it demands only one thing… my unwavering fixation.
 
In her book, The Joy of Missing Out, Christina Crook explores this unwavering fixation that has grown out of the technology boom of the modern era. The compulsive checking of emails and the incessant check-ins on Facebook have become the norm for society. As Christina points out in her book, the very definition of compulsive behavior is an irresistible urge that is often against one’s own wishes. Our phones are within arm’s reach, our inbox remains open on our computers and our latest tweet was only a few minutes ago, yet we find ourselves drained with little desire or ability to interact with others face to face. Ultimately, it is us who have been disconnected from our power source.

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Jacques Ellul

This week marked the anniversary of the death of Jacques Ellul….

Jacques Ellul was one of the keenest and most provocative Christian thinkers of the 20th century.

In remembrance of him, we offer this introductory reading guide, which highlights his most important books and suggests an order in which to read them.

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Preserving Absence

A Reflection on this new book and what it means for Christians:

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in A World Of Constant Connection

Michael Harris

Hardback: Current, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reflection by Michael J. Bowling

[ Watch brief video intro to the book ]

 

We are flooded with presence! Twitter, Facebook, unlimited texting, smart phones, WIFI and a host of mobile devices put us in constant touch with nearly everyone on the planet. Maybe, this is a bit of an exaggeration today, but not so much in the near future. Some would respond, “What’s wrong with that?” After all, don’t we value presence? We want open and useful communication with others. Being present is at the core of Christian faith, right?

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The Spirit, Technology, and our Relationship with God

A Feature Review of

iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives

Craig Detweiler

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2013
 
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Adam Metz.

 
I can still remember two teenage girls from our youth group telling me that they had recently set up an account for me on a new website called Facebook – “It’s way cooler than Myspace,” they assured me.  Facebook had just begun allowing non-students to sign up, and these girls were certain I would want to join.  I quickly assimilated the novel social networking website into my daily routine to the point where it now comes so naturally that it is difficult to remember life B.F.B. (before Facebook).  Fast forwarding to today finds my Facebook account linked to my Instagram and Twitter accounts which take time away from my Snapchat, Youtube, LinkedIn, iTunes, and Google accounts.  The dizzying rate at which these technological innovations have assimilated into everyday life for millions of people has left us little time to reflect upon the spiritual dynamics of how these innovations have shaped and are shaping our spiritual and social lives.
 
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The Mac Myth

A Review of

Appletopia: Media Technology and the Religious Imagination of Steve Jobs
Brett Robinson

Hardback: Baylor Press, 2013.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Adam P. Newton

 

Apple. Macintosh. Steve Jobs. iAnything. You’d have to be raising barns deep in Amish country, paddling the depths of the Amazon River Basin, or living on a far-flung Pacific island to not be familiar with the products made by the Apple brand. Even if you don’t use that technology, you probably have a very specific opinion about why you’ve never adopted any of those devices. I have hacker IT friends who only operate off undiluted Linux kernels, and even those folks have an iPhone or use iTunes for their digital music. And if you especially love Mac products, you’re lucky if detractors will let you off the hook by merely calling you a “fanboy” – the unlucky get told they’re members of a cult.

 

With his investigation into the religious ideas and philosophies that powered the big-picture worldview and day-to-day operations of Steve Jobs, Brett T. Robinson examines the life of this powerful innovator, inventor, and technological prophet. Appletopia serves as a pleasant though occasionally superficial discussion of how Jobs integrated artistic ideals into scientific exploration and marketing savvy to create a pop culture “event” in a world that’s become quite jaded toward larger meta-stories.

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A lecture on appropriate technology by E.F. Schumacher , the late author of

Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.
Paperback: Harper, 1975.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Part 1:




The rest of the lecture: [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ]


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Daniel Headrick - Power Over PeoplesWhen Technologies Take on a Life of Their Own.

A Featured Review of

Power over Peoples:  Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present

Daniel Headrick.

Paperback: Princeton UP, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Myles Werntz.

In an age of iPads, digital uploads, drone surveillance, and debates over the limits of the Internet, the question of whether or not “technology” is an unlimited good remains an open question. Proponents of the most recent iteration of the technology revolution will decry the naysayers as “Luddites”, while the inheritors of  Wendell Berry and Jacques Ellul will continue to remain suspicious of technology’s pervasive effects within society, and (more perniciously) over against society. As Wendell Berry has argued, technology may be an aid to communal life, or it can destroy it; the latter use of technological advances–the use of arrows in Genghis Kahn’s conquest of Asia, or the use of gunpowder to colonize Africa–remains the dark side of technological advances.

This last point–the relationship between technology and the subjugation of people is the subject of Daniel Headrick’s Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present, in which we are presented with an account of western imperialism, and its relationship to technology. Headrick notes that the common assumption is that imperialist cultures flourish because they are able to make use of superior technology. Such a narrative is too facile, Headrick argues, for it assumes that superior manipulation of natural elements (technology) always results in a successful conquest.

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“An Ambling Dinner  Conversation

A review of
Making is Connecting

by David Gauntlett
.

Review by Josh Mayo.

MAKING IS CONNECTING - David GauntlettMaking is Connecting
David Gauntlett
.
Paperback: Polity, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Most readers understand (unconsciously, if not consciously) the dual-nature of sociological studies like Making is Connecting: simply put, this kind of writer is always preoccupied with both informing and evaluating cultural trends. Occasionally, an author will reach at both goals; often, most do not.

David Gauntlett is an odd duck for media studies. Most notably, he is fun to read. His droll and accessible style makes him the curious foil to other heavier, field-related notables like Marshall McLuhan and Jacques Ellul. This is, however, both an attractive and regrettable quality to the book. In exchange for “fun,” the project trades argument, and the result is that Making is Connecting reads much like a dinner conversation: an amble though the author’s semi-collected thoughts on favorite hobbies and intellectuals.

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“Man Versus Human Nature”

A Review of

The Wilding: A Novel.
By Benjamin Percy.

Reviewed by Greg Schreur.

The Wilding - A novel by Benjamin PercyThe Wilding: A Novel.
Benjamin Percy.
Hardback: Graywolf, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon: Hardback ] [ Amazon: Kindle ]

Regardless of your views on evolution, there is no denying that humankind has evolved since the days of hunting and gathering—or even if you prefer, since the days of our great-great-grandparents. As history marched on, as civilizations developed and sought to regulate human behavior and as technologies developed and separated us more and more from the daily grind of basic survival, we became more and more domesticated.

Our shampoos smell pretty and come with directions. Our food is stuffed into grocery carts or ordered from menus. Our experiences with nature are as likely to occur in IMAX theaters as not. In our litigious, urbanized, technologized, cellophane-wrapped society, we’ve placed a lid on human nature. And just like the animals we’ve taken into our homes, our more basic instincts lurk beneath a civilized façade and tend to emerge only in more extreme or focused situations.

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