[Editor’s Note: This is the second week of From the Garden to the City Blog Tour.]
The downtown intersection of digital technology and Christian theology has been increasingly busy (one imagines sleek futuristic cars on tracks), and John Dyer’s new From The Garden to the City may be the smartest vehicle for clear thought that I’ve seen yet. (For some other recent models, you think of Tim Challies’ Next Story (pretty much a Volvo—all about safety), Shane Hipps Flickering Pixels (SUV—cool, but too easy to roll).
We’re jumping in to Chapter 1: Perspective, and the quickest way in is to check out four quick quotes:
Alan Kay famously described technology ‘as anything that was invented after you were born.
This is why new soccer mom’s can fret about their kids texting all day, but don’t notice that they themselves used to chill on the Princess phone for hours, writes Dyer. Bingo. Older technologies fade into the environment and don’t seem so techy to us.
Why is this obvious point so often missed?
I had a seminary professor complain about those new fangled video projectors as “inappropriate technology in Church,” but was unable to take my point that his favorite hard-bound hymn and prayer books weren’t different. Dyer illuminates this common blind-spot that plagues much of the Church’s critique so far (including some prominent writers on this very topic). Nice job.
Every single believer from Moses to Martin Luther… encountered God’s word by going to church and listening… they almost never had a chance to read it…
Yes yes yes. Historically, the Church thinks of God’s Word as God’s VOICE—something to be heard. (Fun detour: do a study on Jesus’ use of the word “hearing”). This has implications for the way we think about the doctrine of Scripture (my research is on this).
Pay close attention the influence of technology…
Easier said than done. The problem is that we’re the fish in the water of it all. McLuhan said that only artists are able to “reverse the figure and ground” to truly see how the culture is today. Are we artists?
We are returning to a culture of spoken words rather than the printed text
Sort of. Professor Walter Ong writes about “secondary orality”–the kind of Talking that appeared after Writing. Today? I think we’re in a “tertiary orality”–the kind of Writing that looks like Talking. Confusing? The key to understanding is that once a new technology is around, the old one is forever changed.
What do you think?
[Next week, we review chapter 2: Imagination]