Some Random Thoughts on Technology

I have a trip to Chile planned for this summer. I’ll be teaching a course on OT History through the Instituto Bíblico Iberoamericano. I also plan to have some workshops designed to demonstrate the capabilities of Logos Bible Software for Chileans.

I have been a user of computer technology for over 30 years, specifically using software aimed at Biblical studies for  28 years (in 1986 I got a multi-lingual word processor for IBM-PC, designed to let me type in Greek and Hebrew [with full right-to-left capabilities for typing in Hebrew], using that on a dot-matrix printer!)

I’m into it! Over the last several years, I have been introduced to some technology users who use it critically. Following in the footsteps of Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, et al, I believe that we should question the uncritical use of technology. To shape my thinking, I have benefitted from reading some of the following books:

Currently, I am reading Craig Detweiler’s iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives. It is very good! On my trip to Chile, I will be sharing in a couple workshops on the Theology of Technology (thanks to my good friend, Juan Carlos Campos Arenas). I’ve been gone from Chile for nearly 20 years. During those 20 years, technology has exploded. I now have thousands of books on my 13″ MacBook Pro, which weighs between 3 and 4 pounds! If it is stolen, and I have to get a new machine, I’ll still have access to all those books. I have benefitted personally from the technological explosion. I like it! Yet, it comes as a double-edged sword.

Detweiler muses about the history of the computer (technological) revolution, and what it may mean to our theology:

Our theology once shaped our understanding of technology, but now we wonder how technology may alter our theology. From each tech company profiled in this book, we can deduce a creation narrative. They follow a similar path, from humble beginnings, when the founders were seen as foolhardy, to the early test launch when a few more believers came on board (as additional investors). . . . The narrative shifts when the scoffers are ultimately defeated by those they previously dismissed (think Apple versus Microsoft). The scrappy outsiders become esteemed insiders, establishing a new standard. They liberate the public from a life of dull servitude into greater clarity, purpose, and practice. Whole Earthers that tried to drop out of the system now run the system, with so many of us directing our MacBooks toward Google’s searches and Facebook’s newsfeeds.

Some will recognize the similarities to the biblical narrative, where a creator God aligns with a marginalized people to take on established kingdoms and principalities. Jesus undercuts the established practices of his time with an upside-down ethic that supports the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. Such a counter-cultural power rearrangement was bound to create resistance, but despite the appearance of defeat, Jesus and his band of devoted followers rise and overturn the dominant people and paradigm. The outsiders become the insiders, the powerless are given access and authority. It becomes easy to see how faith in technology becomes an alternative religion, a way to reverse the curse of the fall, to provide comfort to hurting people, to offer us a glimpse of eternity. American optimism has morphed into faith in technology. The only problem–technology cannot save us.

I’m not certain how to take Detweiler’s comparison, but I find it intriguing. I have just completed a semester in which I taught the Epistle to the Hebrews. If I could summarize that epistle to a few words, I would say: “Jesus is Better! Jesus is Everything!” Technology is great, but it cannot save us.

During the summer months, I’ll continue to work on these ideas. Do you have some input? Please share with me.

On another point, tomorrow is my 60th birthday, and I will be doing the Joplin Memorial 5K run. My training did not go as well as I had hoped, but I will cover the 3.1 miles in the morning, before heading off to Aurora, MO to watch my grandson, Nathan, play soccer.

On still another point, I don’t have the money together to purchase my tickets to Chile yet. If you would like to help me, let me know.

I’ve created a Google Doc where you can express your interest in helping me get to Chile and back. Click on THIS LINK FOR MORE INFORMATION.

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