Sunday, September 19, 2010

 

Sunday Reflection: Technology and the Church

One thing that is surprising and good about Minneapolis is that we have not one but three public radio stations-- one specializing in classical music, one playing alternative and new music, and a third with the usual news-and-talk format. On the third of these, they happened to be interviewing William Gibson on Friday, and he said something I have been thinking about for a few days: "We become our technology."

There is some truth in what he says, because so much technology has to do with communications, and it is through communications that we define ourselves to the world. The form of communication, the technology, plays a role in shaping the message itself, as well as the audience. If you write letters, the message will be slow, well considered, and limited to the person you are writing to. If you write on a blog, you may change what you say to make it less personal and more concise, while if you tweet you will carry those attributes up a little.

So what of this and faith? If we become our technology, how does the faith aspect of our identity survive that transition?

My own view is that as technology broadens our audiences while shortening and depersonalizing what we say, faith becomes less a part of what we convey, less a part of the portrait of ourselves we paint for the world... unless we try very hard not to let that happen.

Upon reflection, I find that exactly this happened to me. When I began blogging, there was almost no mention of my faith. In part, I will admit, it did seem too personal a thing to share with whoever might be reading.

Obviously, I changed my mind and began devoting Sundays to faith issues. To have faith survive as part of how I described myself to the world in this new medium, I had to be more intentional about that project. In the end, I think that is the answer: Like so many other things, technological change requires us to be affirmative in making faith a part of what we do.

Comments:
I'm pretty sure everything I know about the intersection of technology and faith can be summed up by the existence of the lolcat Bible.
 
The fact that there are people out there that spent time to create such a thing shakes my faith to the core.
 
Neuromancer is one of the greatest cyberpunk pulp novels of all time.
 
Makes as much sense as any of the other creation myths - all come from the perspective of the person (or cat) that writes them. Ceiling cat is as rational as the Jehovah or Great Turtle or Jove or any other mythical being.

Lee
 
yes I recognize the meaning behind creating something like that, just don't understand the person who would spend time to do it. And when did we as a society decide cat's, when they can communicate, can't spell or use correct grammar? They seem like smart animals to me.
 
Neuromancer is one of the greatest cyberpunk pulp novels of all time.

Seconded.
 
I'm sad to report that Neuromancer is probably getting the Hollywood treatment.

And while I do not share Gibson's inherent pessimism about the world and capitalism's unimpeded trajectory as an economic system, he is basically correct. In the age of Twitter, what room is there left for a person of letters? Even political discourse gets shortened to tweet-length much of the time.

Where I disagree is that I do not think that this is the fault of the medium (which is a dumb, passive thing) or the fault of the audience (same reason). We only become our technology to the extent we forfeit our own agency to define ourselves.
 
Lane--

I think that's what I was saying... that we forfeit our identity only if we aren't intentional in maintaining it.
 
Right; I meant I disagre with Gibson, not with you.
 
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