Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Knowing and Not Knowing
Throughout the history of public theological debate, there was one constant—those debates only took place between a few select people—Moses, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, and so on—who gained respect through a lifetime of scholarship.Joe says it's why he does not write about theology - this is reason why not to write about a lot of things.
Yet Facebook and Twitter do not encourage this kind of self-restraint. In fact, they encourage an opposing value system. Social media relentlessly asks us to publish our personal opinions on anything and everything that happens. There is no time for reflection in prayer, no place for discussion with other flesh and blood image bearers, and no incentive to remain silent.
We convince ourselves that by answering the questions social media asks us we are standing for truth alongside the great leaders of the church, but slowly and subtly as we respond to the prompts of our phones rather than our Bibles we begin to worship the false gods of immediacy, distraction, and celebrity in the Temple of Lord Zuckerberg. If you don't think the value system of technology affects you, ask yourself, If it was 2003 and some author wrote some book questioning some doctrine would I have felt compelled to publish my thoughts?
The result is that a million heresy charges isn't cool any more. You know what's cool? A billion heresy charges.
There is an accompanying phenomena that troubles me. The idea here is that genuine thought and expertise will be recognized in the crowd and rise to the top. But so often it is technique that is recognized and not expertise. Thus someone that knows technical means to get links and be read rises tot he top, even if what they write is drivel. Likewise someone who writes in an entertaining fashion, even if what they write is drivel, often finds a measure of success that eludes many with much more meaningful to say.
Blogging, et. al. has resulted not only in a lowering of publishing standards, but in a lowering of consumer standards. In removing the role of study and criticism from the consumption of written material, we are left subject to the whims of "popularity." It is true that this role of filtering what we consume has been abused in recent years, often filtering out much that is good for the sake of advancing an often wrong ideology. But now what we consume is often not just wrong - it is mindlessly wrong.
Yet the freedom this technology creates is a good thing at its core, provided, getting back to Dyer, we work to elevate ourselves. Are we seeking to be better people? Is our writing an exploration as opposed to an expression? Are you in prayer and study?
You should be.