Monday, April 16, 2007


Information, Learning, and Technology

Russell over at the Eagle and Child is wondering about communication technology and intellectual depth. He concludes:
The challenge for us is not to bemoan the new technologies. It is for us to learn to use them wisely and to use them well. The challenge for us is to write and speak in ways that are engaging. If we are going to snack (and to make snack food), it is up to us to snack on friut and granola rather than chips and fries. Just like in our dietary choices, snacking isn't so much the problem as what we snack upon. (Yes, Mom, I remember all those warnings about "empty calories" in cookies and chips).

Technology doesn't save us, only Jesus does. However, we must also remember that Jesus calls us to be salt and light, using technology in redemptive ways. The Holy Spirit empowers us to learn how to be wise in our intellectual snacking and in what we offer up as snack food in this new technological realm.
There is a more generalized corollary to his musings that has intriqued me for a long time, and I still don't have great answers. Paul says
Rom 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. [emphasis added]
This verse would appear to indicate that the path to the tranformation offered in Christ is an intellectual one. Dallas Willard writes about this exstensively in "Renovation of the Heart." Does this mean genunie transformation is not available to those that are intellectually limited?

I don't think so, the transformation offered by Christ is a spiritual one at base. My closest encouters with Christ, and therefore definitionally the most transformative experiences I have had, have come when I was able to reach a sort of absence of intellectual activity. But down that path lies many dangers as well, where emotionalism substitutes for transformation and false prophets and charlatans are often found.

Could it be that the new communication technology will enable a balance between the intellectual and the experiential? Can we harness it in ways that are both emotionally evocative and intellectual stimulating, acheiving the kind of wholeness that God intends? Can it be used to reach those we have previously written off as unreachable?

Which rings me back to Russell's conclusion. It's not about the technology it's about how it is used. I would argue that more, it is about WHO uses it. That is to say, are we transformed enough to use it in a transformative manner? Therein lies the magic.

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