I was able to get a great deal of reading done over this long holiday weekend, so I think this will just be a week full of book reviews. I finished two books and have another that I'm just about through. I'll start off this week with a book that is on blog tour this week. Other reviews this week will be Love and War and Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion
I am just as guilty as the next person. I love my gadgets. It's genetic. My dad was always an early adopter of just about anything shiny and beeping. We had an Intellevision when I was a kid. My dad had a car phone back when noone had them and they were giant leather cases that sat between the front seats of the car and people called them "car phones" because they weren't really "mobile" yet. There are days when I realize the amount of content I've posted on Facebook is ludicrous. Clearly, this book is written for people like me. But it's also written for people like you (whatever category that is, depending on who is reading this).
Our world is a fast paced, noisy, distracting world. We have a strange yearning to be connected and reachable at all times. Try leaving your house without your cell phone one day. I'll bet more than 2/3 of you can't do it. Brandon left his iPhone in our car last night when Tim took him home and he was here at 6:00 this morning to pick it up. I would have been back last night for it, were it me. This is exactly what Challis is talking about. Our tech-addictions are distracting us, splitting our attention spans, changing the way we learn (not always in a good way), interrupting our time with God and others and just generally getting in the way of life as it should be.
Challis is not anti-technology. I would have hated this book if he were. A book like this could easily wander into the realm of complete separation from and fear of everything electronic. Thankfully, the author handles the subject with fairness and fact. He understands that it's simply impractical to avoid modern technology and that like in everything, we must approach it with wisdom and understanding. Challis explores a range of ways in which digital technology has changed the way we think, learn and interact, both positively and negatively.
Like anything else in our world, technology isn't inherently evil. There is alot of good in it. Technology saves lives, it enables us to connect with people around the world, it aids our studying, and much more. There is nothing wrong with having a smartphone or a tablet computer or a car (a car is technology, folks). It's ok to be on Facebook or to have a blog. In fact, Challis admits in this book that he has all of these things. The key is figuring out whether you own the technology or if it owns you. Is it enriching your life in a God-glorifying, wholesome way or is it damaging relationships, worship and concentration?
The irony is not lost on me that after I signed up for this blog tour and received my copy of the book in the mail from the publisher, I realized that I'd bought it a few weeks prior on my Kindle and had forgotten about it because I have about 200 books on my Kindle. Therefore, I read this book on something that is listed in the book as being one of the things we need to be careful to avoid being distracted by and addicted too. Perhaps this is a sign of addiction, but I don't think it's fair to lump ereaders in with other technology in the way that Challis does. My Kindle doesn't beep at me or ring when I haven't read my chapter(s) for the day or anything like that. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a book like any other book. Except that it's a money and space saving environmentally friendly alternative to paper books. Yeah, yeah. It's a gadget. But it's different. I may just be making lame excuses here. Feel free to call me out on this.
Anyway, I highly recommend this book to anyone currently serving in any form of ministry or to anyone who doesn't think they could leave their smartphone or laptop at home when they go on vacation or who can't go a day without checking on their facebook farm.