One of this week’s best new book releases is:
As parents, we all struggle with setting appropriate limits on technology use for our children, and there’s no scarcity of related advice; it seems that hardly a day goes by without an article on the topic showing up in my Facebook or Twitter feed. With this little book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch, the good advice appears in one handy volume. I like the size of this book: not only does it feel good in the hand, the small pages lead me to believe that the subject is not as overwhelming as it often seems.
A Feature Review of
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.
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.
A Reflection on this new book and what it means for Christians:
Reflection by Michael J. Bowling
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?
A Feature Review of
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.
A Review of
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.