Billy Graham on Technology as a Pointer to Christ

Billy Graham is an amazing communicator, and his 1998 TED talk on technology and faith (embedded below) is no exception. In it he is witty, articulate, and convicting.

His basic message is simple: technology brings amazing benefits to humanity, but it’s failure to alleviate the brokenness of the human heart ultimately point us to our need for a Savior.

What I appreciate most about his talk is that Graham did not give it to a church audience who would immediately agree with him. Instead in his audiences are some of the greatest technological minds ever gathered, many of whom are no friends of religion. It’s a classic example of how a speaker can appeal to an audience’s sensibilities, gain a sense of trust, and then finally address the person of Jesus Christ. Continue reading Billy Graham on Technology as a Pointer to Christ

Top 9 Posts of 2009

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15097772@N08/3469571036/

  1. Read the Bible: Greek and Hebrew Reader’s Edition – Happily, this post that demonstrates my occupation (web programming) and my thinking about how use technology well was by far the most popular post this year.
  2. On the Tornado, Piper, and Godwin’s Law – My goal in this post was to show that the speed of Internet communications often leads to misunderstandings and angry words.
  3. BibleTech 2009 – Technology is Not Neutral: How Bible Technology Shapes Your Faith – This presentation on oral, print, and digital Bible technology was one of the first I gave in 2009.
  4. Why Johnny Can’t Preach Review – This is a great little book that introduces media ecology and applies it to preaching. He next book is called “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hyms”
  5. TwitterVoice3D – Again, I’m glad that a programming project would make it in the top posts list. Here, I tried to visually and orally demonstrated how out of control and disconnected Twitter can make us feel.
  6. Stop Bringing Your Bible to Church – An experiment in experiencing the Bible orally instead of in print or on screen – just like believers did from Moses to Luther.
  7. Pornography Is Not Just About Lust – Exploring the emotional power of images and story. Cross posted at www.XXXChurch.com
  8. Dostoevsky’s 1984 Saved Him from Our Brave New World – Combining the introduction to Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death with Dostoevsky’s prison time.
  9. How to Become a Technological Idiot in One Easy Step: Think Like a Christian – Why does Christian moral thinking sometimes prevent us from thinking well about technology?

Thanks to all you readers for making these posts popular! If you have a favorite posts that wasn’t here or something you’d love to see covered here, please let me know in the comments.

Happy New Year!

How to Become a “Technological Idiot” in One Easy Step: Think Like a Christian

The Right/Wrong Dichotomy

BucketsOne of Christianity’s greatest strengths is that it is deeply concerned with morality. However, when it comes to thinking about technology, this strength often turns into a major weakness.

It’s great for us to be thinking about how to please our Savior, redeem the world, and earn more crownage (2 Tim 4:8), but sometimes this leads us to putting everything we encounter into either a “right” bucket or “wrong” bucket. Then, when something comes along that’s neither clearly moral or immoral, the only “bucket” we have left is the amoral “how we use it” bucket.

If this is as far as we can go, then our moral thinking has put a major limitation on us.

All Hail McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan wrote,

Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot.  (Understanding Media, 17-18)

Continue reading How to Become a “Technological Idiot” in One Easy Step: Think Like a Christian

D. A. Carson on Technology Culture

Themelios - Volume 33, Issue 3In the latest issue of the online journal Themelios, D. A. Carson’s editorial is largely concerned with technology. Here’s a choice quote:

Scarcely less important than speed of access is the Internet’s sheer intoxicating addictiveness–or, more broadly, we might be better to think of the intoxicating addictiveness of the entire digital world. Many are those who are never quiet, alone, and reflective, who never read material that demands reflection and imagination. The iPods provide the music, the phones constant access to friends, phones and computers tie us to news, video, YouTube, Facebook, and on and on. This is not to demonize tools that are so very useful. Rather, it is to point out the obvious: information does not necessarily spell knowledge, and knowledge does not necessarily spell wisdom, and the incessant demand for unending sensory input from the digital world (says he, as he writes this on a computer for an electronic theological journal) does not guarantee we make good choices. We have the potential to become world citizens, informed about every corner of the globe, but in many western countries the standards of geographical and cross-cultural awareness have seriously declined. We have access to spectacularly useful information, but most of us diddle around on ephemeral blogs and listen to music as enduring as a snowball in a blast furnace. Sometimes we just become burned out by the endless waves of bad news, and decide the best course is to turn the iPod volume up a bit. (emphasis mine)

The entire article is largely a reflection on his book Christ and Culture Revisited more than a piece on pure technology, but it is very good. Here is the conclusion:

I shall not here review the Christian resources God has kindly lavished on us to enable us not to conform to the pattern of this world. If we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, then we must be reading the Scriptures perennially, seeking to think God’s thoughts after him, focusing on the gospel of God and pondering its implications in every domain of life. We need to hear competing voices of information from the world around us, use our time in the digital world wisely, and learn to shut that world down when it becomes more important to get up in the morning and answer emails than it does to get up and read the Bible and pray. We may also learn much from church history, where we observe fellow believers in other times and cultures learning the shape of faithfulness. We begin to detect how easily the “world” may squeeze us into its mold. We soon learn that adequate response is more than mere mental resolve, mere disciplined observance of the principle “garbage in, garbage out” (after all, we are what we think), though it is not less than that. The gospel is the power of God issuing in salvation. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and living in the shadow of the cross and resurrection, we find ourselves wanting to be conformed to the Lord Jesus, wanting to be as holy and as wise as pardoned sinners can be this side of the consummation. (emphasis mine)

HT: Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds.

Great Quote: Sigmund Freud

Freud had some great observations about how the technology of his day (wired telephones and railroads) were affecting his world. This quote summarizes his feelings:

“If there had been no railway to conquer distance, my child would never have left town and I should need no telephone to hear his voice.”

I love how Freud encapsulates one of today’s most fascinating phenomena: we create technology to help solve problems created by technology. This seems to beautifully capture the human condition.

(Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: W. W. Norton, 1961, p. 38.)