Technology is exciting and developing at exponential proportions. I’m only 29 years old, and though my grandparents have seen more monumental technological developments within their lifetime, I still think the difference between my HTC EVO 4G (Android) and the Motorola flip phone that my family owned while I was in Jr. High is pretty astonishing. I’ve heard it said that there is more computing power in my pocket than there was in the shuttle that carried the first astronauts to the moon…But wait…that’s my phone I’m talking about. There have been such intense technological developments that making and receiving calls is only a small fraction of what my phone can accomplish. Because of my phone’s massive computing potential, it also brings with it the ability to be connected to the world in more ways than my grandparents would understand if I tried my hardest to explain it to them. And though this convenience of connection was supposed to make life, well…more convenient, it as often taken control of us to an idolatrous extent…
How can we live, harnessing the gracious benefits of technology, while approaching it with biblical discernment so as not to be used by technology, but to use technology for the glory of God?
Tim Challies, blogger, book reviewer, and independent web-designer, has done us a great service in thinking diligently, creatively, and yes, even theologically, about how we can effectively use technology and exist in a thoroughly digital world to the glory of God. His recent book, The Next Story: Life and Faith After The Digital Explosion (Zondervan, 2011), briefly traces the historical development of technology into the present digital age, then, with informed discernment, examines the pros and cons of digital technology, its effects on human communication and development, and its effects on our lives and families (particularly as Christians).
I deeply appreciated Tim’s writing-style in this book. He was informative, engaging, and honest about the benefits and dangers presented to us in a digital world. The sections I found the most particularly helpful included the ‘Introduction’ on becoming a “thoughtful” user of technology. In terms of being a “thoughtful” user of technology Challies notes, “We are looking for that sweet spot where our use of technology is not just thoughtful and informed, but it is informed by the Bible, by an understanding of God’s purpose for technology” (p. 16).
Additionally, Tim included a couple profoundly helpful “Aside” sections along the way. His first, entitled “Talk to Your Tech,” addresses the fact that we need to “seek to understand how a technology will change and shape us before we introduce it into our lives” (p. 61). He poses four helpful questions to ask of a technology before embracing it into your life:
- Why Were You (the technology) Created?
- What Is the Problem to Which You Are the Solution, and Whose Problem Is It?
- What New Problems Will You Bring?
- What Are You Doing to My Heart?
Particularly regarding the last question, Challies notes the need to be discerning in that while the certain technology may not be idolatrous to us, it has the potential of increasing the hold of another idol upon our lives. …Extremely helpful and timely insights here!
Further along in the book, Tim includes another helpful aside on the impact of technology upon the family. While some may react to technology all together and desire to separate oneself as much as possible, Tim gives advantageous insights and guidelines as to how we may use technology to the benefit of our family and, again, the glory of God. Challies introduces seven steps to consider when implementing a new technology within the life of your family:
- Fence (create healthy boundaries)
- Mentor (sit with your children as they use the new technology)
- Review (ask your children questions about how they’ve used the technology)
These “aside” sections, along with his segments on communication, distraction, and the effect of technology on truth and authority, make The Next Story an immensely informative, discerning, theological and practical guide to living well in an ever-changing and fast-paced digital world before the eternal and unchanging God. I whole-heartedly commend it to you!
Read inside (PDFs): Sample Pages
*The publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of this book. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.