technology

What is Church?- A place to make meaning

November 4th, 2010 – by Patrick Nafziger

I have a shoebox in a closet.

It’s full of cards and notes I’ve received since leaving home.

I don’t keep everything–just the ones that really mean something. But by now that box is getting full. When I go to add a new card to the box, I notice it won’t close right anymore.

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The Theological Legacy of Art Gish (old books need love too!)

November 4th, 2010 – by Brian Gumm

On that day this past July when Art Gish was tragically killed on his farm in Ohio, I was on another farm a few states away in Iowa, reclining on a porch swing at my in-law’s, reading his 1972 book, Beyond the Rat Race (Herald Press; sub. page numbers are from this ed.).  It was my first substantive engagement with Gish’s writing, and that it was being done on the day he died was both humbling and sad.

The lives of Art and his wife, Peggy, are a contextual recapitulation of traditional Brethren nonconformity, and Beyond the Rat Race offers us practical and striking insights into living out our faith in Christ amidst a coercive and fallen world. For being published nearly 40 years ago in the late days of the Vietnam war and following in the wake of hippie culture and broader social upheaval, the book remains startlingly relevant. Indeed, the corrupting cultural currents that Gish identifies and critiques have in some ways become more deeply entrenched in American life and are therefore harder to discern and resist in rigorously Christian ways.

Especially eerie this side of the Internet is Gish’s passing remark about then-contemporary media theorist, Marshall McLuhan, who Gish saw as “(advocating) deeper devotion to electronic fragmentation for those disorganized by society,” then adding, “But we will not find reality by turning ourselves into an electronic package” (p. 117). What is Facebook and other social media on the Internet but a contemporary venture into just that? To say nothing about the foundational role of advertising on these networks!

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The Space Age

September 2nd, 2010 – by Laura Lehman Amstutz

A few weeks ago a former professor posted this article from the New York Times on his Facebook page “Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime” Here’s the synopsis: If we’re constantly “plugged in” to our digital devices we don’t learn as well as we would if we had space to process those things we’re learning. If we fill every spare minute with entertainment or news or work we aren’t really processing what we are experiencing.

The real irony for me was that I read this article off my phone while I was eating breakfast.

We are moving into a time where we aren’t limited anymore by the technology. We can’t say that we won’t check our email because there isn’t a computer nearby, the computer is in our pocket. Because the technology doesn’t limit us anymore it’s up to our own discipline.

Unplugging and creating space is a spiritual discipline and sometimes I wonder  if it’s one the church fosters. I recently heard of a pastor who uses Twitter during his sermon to get feedback as he’s preaching. Part of me is impressed by the ability to multi-task. And part of me is not sure this is the spirit the church ought to be fostering in this age.

If our brains need space to process and learn, how are we creating that space in our worship communities? Would we do better to create more silent space and reflective time during worship, rather than adding more video clips, technology, and powerpoints? Are we really an age in need of space?

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