My friend, Greg Gilbert, is guest blogging at Between Two Worlds this week and he asks some questions regarding theology and technology. Yesterday I read a great transcription of a talk Neil Postman gave to the German Informatics Society in 1990. For those of you not familiar with Neil Postman, he wrote a stellar book called Entertaining Ourselves to Death – which is a look at how entertainment has impoverished our thinking. This talk is related to this book as it is entitled, “Informing Ourselves to Death.”

An acquaintance of mine, Josh Sowin, peaked my interest in Postman by his numerous posts on him. You can find those here.

I have included some stirring quotes that capture the essence of what Postman spoke about.

Neil Postman, German Informatics Society, 11 Oct 90, Stuttgart

“Anyone who has studied the history of technology knows that
technological change is always a Faustian bargain: Technology giveth
and technology taketh away, and not always in equal measure. A new
technology sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it
destroys more than it creates. But it is never one-sided.

The invention of the printing press is an excellent example. Printing
fostered the modern idea of individuality but it destroyed the
medieval sense of community and social integration. Printing created
prose but made poetry into an exotic and elitist form of expression.
Printing made modern science possible but transformed religious
sensibility into an exercise in superstition. Printing assisted in
the growth of the nation-state but, in so doing, made patriotism into
a sordid if not a murderous emotion.”

Thoughts on technology??

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Your Father Who Sees Your Real (not contrived) Status

I recently came across a witty, but hauntingly truthful sentence from Will Ferrell. He said, “May your life one day be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook.”

Why haunting, because it rings with a lot of truth to it. Too many folks have abdicated real life for the fantasy of cyber fellowship. Media is not ethical in nature; how it is utilized determines the ethics behind social media. Therefore, it is foolish to condemn all social media because it is social media. Merely because someone uses Facebook for unsavory ends does not mean that the medium is, itself, unsavory.

I fear people have not thoughtfully engaged in how to capitalize and use the medium (just like we have used radio, television, and the telephone) as a means to spread the glory of God’s fame. However, there are many of us who have swerved off-kilter to the other side of unthoughtfulness. I am reminded about Jesus’ admonition to his disciples that they be careful not to practice their righteousness in order to receive men’s praise (Matthew 6). If we were able to peel back the layers of various Facebook posts or tweets, we might find that our lives are more boring and less connected that we would like to imagine.

More than anything this is merely a caution, not a rebuke (unless, that is, you find that you are guilty). Do you find an insatiable desire to post your latest picture of yourself smiling broadly with your BFF at the trendy restaurant? Maybe your desire isn’t insatiable. Perhaps it’s merely a matter of course. You have so wedded your life to the cyber-world you can’t imagine actually engaging flesh and blood without pixelating them. It is is a sad state of affairs when we constantly glance at the floor (checking for the latest update) rather than look our companion in the eyes.

Let’s be careful to have integrity on the world-wide web. Is that dinner you had at Applebee’s really the “most awesome of salads I have ever eaten”? Is that trip with your friends “better than any trip I have had in my existence”? What are the other 999 friends of yours to think who took a trip of a similar value just last week with you?

Yes, be careful. God knows your true status and he is patiently waiting for you to rest in that status.

Religious Lethargy

Some may see this video and think “lethargy” is the wrong word. You may see this and think fervor, ecstasy, ridiculousnous, stupidity, or hedonism is the correct word. About the end of this video I began crying in the middle of a Starbucks – nothing too crazy, but my anger turned to pity and fear.

I am so glad that there are people who desire to make encounters with God emotionally-charged. I wish there were more churches that sought to affect the emotions at least a little bit. So many congregations will view this video and have an allergic reaction so that they will never have any kind of excitement in their services. I will post later as to what are some problems with this, that I see. For now, just view it and leave your impressions in the comments section:

You Spin Me Right Round Jesus


Free Church Database

I came across a free church database system today. You can use it to track your church’s attendance, giving, etc. It actually looks like a it may be decent tool, and the “free” part is particularly good for smaller churches with the need, but not the finances. (My church bought a new database system a couple years ago, and we paid a ridiculous amount of money for something that probably does about the same thing.)

If anybody puts this to use, drop us a comment and let us know if it’s any good – www.churchmetrics.com.