Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Technology – Curse or Blessing?

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So what do you think about technology?  Is it a curse, a blessing or just neutral (meaning it depends on how we use it)

Do you find technology to be a good servant, or do you find that you are a slave to technology?

Does technology help us expand the kingdom or does it create a more superficial reality?

Does technology help to develop relationships and community or does it take us away from true community?

I came across an interesting conversation that a former chief scientist at Xerox had with a senior at Marin Catholic High School in regards to technology.

Before you read the article, who do you think wrote the following paragraph – the former Xerox scientist or the Senior in High School?

"Amazing technological advances can help bring some fun to your day (X-box, Tivo) but they also tear away from people communicating and bonding like they used to. Many teenagers sit on their computer surfing MySpace or on AIM instead of having actual relationships with their friends. Everyone rushes through the streets jabbing on their cellphone, iPods stuck in their ears. No one has time to be close to….well, anyone. The world is too fast paced. I believe everyone needs to slow down and take a good hard look at the world in front of them; you won’t be there forever."

And who do you think wrote these lines?

"The Net is enabling us to build and maintain dense networks of friends and colleagues that stretch the globe."

"I certainly agree with you in the profound need for not letting the virtual replace the physical–but let’s also recognize that there are many creative ways that it can augment it."

If you want to know you will have to read the article.  So what’s your take on technology?  If you want to look at my take, I recently finished a paper that I posted on-line that I wrote for grad school.  I think you will find it fascinating.  I basically talk about the nature of media, the laws of media as defined by Marshall McLuhan and his son, I get into analyzing recent internet technology, and basically how to engage in crucial counterforces

3 Responses to Technology – Curse or Blessing?

  1. Bob F. says:

    A hammer’s a neutral piece of technology — you can use it to drive a nail or split a skull. At least until everyone’s carrying a hammer and whacking at each other.

    Technology is by nature neutral as well. But the way the culture uses it influences our choices to use it for good or for evil. As my places of ministry embrace technology I see potential, and I also worry about becoming a slave to it (mostly because I’m the tech guy as well as the content guy).

    But I think that anything that becomes just assumed in work and life poses that danger of making one a slave. I sometimes worry that the weekly rhythm of curating and preparing for worship saps my time, energy and passion for living out my call in other ways.

    I found it interesting that the teenager seemed to want more balance than the senior scientist — it’s easy for us to accept ‘the way it is’ as we get older. It’s also possible that his place in life allows him more natural balance than many of us can assume.

    Either way it’s an interesting contrast between a modern “tech and progress” view and the relational, more holistic approach to life Shannon described. I’m not sure she’s completely representative of her generation’s views on technology…but I hope her voice is heard.

    So what’s my take? Technology isn’t the great Satan and it isn’t going to solve our communal problems. It isn’t impirically neutral but it is what we make of it. I feel like I need to monitor it more to see where it is feeding relationship and balance, and where it is fighting it, and avoid it where it isn’t helping.

    Thanks for posting the link!

  2. Jason Hesiak says:

    I have to say right out that, as I read that article, and in knowing in which direction we are heading because of the attitude that most of us hold on these issues, I had to hold in my rage (“It’s well beyond rage…” – Braveheart). I should also mention, however, that I have struggled with this very issue of rage over this very topic of technology greatly over the past months, and successfully holding in my rage was MUCH easier than, say, eight months ago.

    Anyway, I just read the following the other day from Brennan Manning in his book, The Importance of Being Foolish, (I will explain how it applies in a moment) “The more man knows about meterology, the less inclined he is to make the sign of the Cross during a thunderstorm. Airplanes now fly above, below, and around entire storms. Satellites reduce these once-terrifying events to photographs. What ignominy (if a thunderstorm could experience ignominy) to be reduced from theophany to nuisance!”

    “What does meterology have to do with the digital revolution?”, one might ask. Good question. Basically, my point is this. The brunt of Western history has followed the course of the conquestedors; and the things in our path to be conquered have been many, some great, some smaller. But, essentially, the basic idea of MODERN history was an undertaking to conquer the WHOLE world. The implicit essence of the beginning of POST-modernity is the assumption that modernity has ended, meaning WE HAVE CONQUERED THE WORLD. Of course thundersorms are now just one of the small ignominies of the world. The world is now a nuissance. Why live in it?

    “As you said, one of the challenges we all face today is maintaining a balance between the physical and the digital (pardon the expression) but actually the balance is between ‘the now’ and tomorrow and ‘the here’ and elsewhere. You are way too young to realize this, but this is nothing new. Wait ’til you are married and see what it is like to talk to someone who is only half there – no digital devices involved! We all zone out from time to time. In the past people complained about the emptiness of small talk at cocktail parties.”

    That “past” was DURING MODERN history – when some folks with some vision SAW WHAT WAS COMING!!!! Who has read “The Wasteland”, by T.S. Eliot? “Do you know Nothing. Do you see, Nothing.” “Remember, Phleobus the Phoenician/Those are pearls that were his eyes/He was once as handsome and tall as you.”

    Do you think God ever “zones out” of OUR lives? Do you desire to “zone out” of God’s life? “My God is the God of the living, not the dead”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jeeez.

    And one more thing. I wish we had enough sense to talk about the essence of technology, the soul (and how it relates to our soul), rather than all the exterior results (and how they “effect the world” (which we now think of as OUR world, since we’ve so conquered it). That goes for all of us (me included). “What is it to gain the world but loose your soul?” The destruction of such a way of thinking and seeing is already rampant, and growing.

    With due dilligence we see that technology, at its origin, is really simply the appearance of artifact in the world in direct connection and relation to that very artifact’s possibility for not appearing in the world. It was originally about life and death. Man’s making of an artifact was a confirmation of his existence, out of a truthful and in some cases healthy fear for his lack of existence (“There is no control in the day of death” – Ecclesiastes). The Tower of Babel would be one “unhealthy” example, to say the least. Anyway – Of course this original idea of technology goes back much farther than even the beginning of modern history, and has been almost entirely lost.

    But has it? Why are we afraid to BE with our friends? Why do we slip away into the deathly Neverland of myspace, TV and cocktails? Are we afraid of our life, or our death? The kenosis is hidng around every street corner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenosis). But none of us ever even just walk down the street with our own two lege, because, with ease after the power of technology, we’re always just driving down the freakin’ street in a motorized car.

    “The language is too strong. The people won’t understand. It is more prudent to render these dangerous maxims harmless. Pour as much wine as possible into the fiery wine of Christ. After all, he was Eastern.” – Brennen Manning, The Importance of Being Foolish.

    It’s funny, however – just this past week I had finally decided that I was going to get a cell phone. I may be reconsidering. Arrgh.

    Honestly – I get all worked up. Sorry for those of you who are intrigued by what I’m saying but are turned off by my language and my anger. There is a message. I wish I could have one on one conversations with you all to get at the workings of “technology” in our lives and our souls – we are all different. Such an opportunity would be filled with a bit more tenderness, I would hope.


  3. fresno dave says:

    great discussion.

    i just heard marva dawn on this:


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