Getting Past Wonder

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Thinking back on my childhood, I vividly remember the first time I got lost in a public place. I was about five or six years old. My family went to an open-air fruit market not too far from our home. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car, I immediately went into sensory overload. The place was full of people. More than that, the colorful array of fruits and vegetable seized my complete attention.

“What’s that purple thing?”
“Why is that celery red?”
“What’s that smell?”

I was also a boy with a healthy appetite (my clothes always came from the “Husky” section of the Boys Department). Therefore, seeing all these foods sent my mind racing…

“Are those strawberries? Maybe Mom will bake a pie!!!”
“Whoa – did that guy just eat one of those grapes? Can I have some?”
“Look!!! That lady is giving out samples!!!”

I was so caught up in a mixture of known favorites, new choices, and tempting possibilities that I lost track of where I was. As I ran from booth to booth, trying new fruits and marveling at things I had never seen before, I became separated from my parents. I spent the next 10 minutes doing what any sensible child would do in this situation. I started screaming my head off! My parents didn’t hear my cries, but an older woman who heard me figured out I was lost, and helped me eventually find the rest of my family.

Now that I’m older, I can successfully navigate a fruit market on my own. That doesn’t mean I still don’t get caught up in wonder over new things. Instead of food, now it’s new technology.

New mobile apps, social media sites, and online services spring up on a daily basis and excite our imaginations. They give us the opportunity to do things we’ve never been able to do before. Beyond just adding convenience, these new devices make us feel like we are living in “The Future”.

BTW – The Future = an always clean, minimalist utopia that has every cool thing you’ve ever seen in a sci-fi movie. It’s a place where everything either floats, is made of glass, or wears spandex.

I’m enthralled with the idea of living in “The Future”. And apparently I’m not alone. The rate at which society is eagerly adopting new technologies and services is astounding. Facebook grew to from 1 million members in 2004 to over 1 billion users in 8 years. Google’s web-based email service, Gmail, has grown from zero to 425 million members in roughly the same time period.

When the iPad was released in April 2010, it invented a new category of device – the Tablet. In just two and a half years, more than 100 million iPads have been sold. For comparison, the largest library in the world (Library of Congress) only has 34.5 million books.

Along with these new devices, we have become just as smitten with new apps and services. In less than four years, the Apple has sold 35 billion iPhone & iPad apps from it’s App Store. Google has sold 25 billion apps through its Android apps store in roughly the same time period.

In less than a decade – we have all fallen hard and fast for “The Future”. We are fully caught up in the wonder that these new devices bring, along with the potential that they bring to our lives.

While it may be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on my part, I can’t help but be concerned that our feeling of wonder when it comes to new technologies may be preventing us from keeping track of what’s important. We consumers tend to focus more on what these new devices can do for us, and not enough on what they may be doing to us. We are eager to sign up for the newest service so we can gain a new convenience, but we don’t spend enough time thinking about what we may be giving up.

The goal of this site is to hopefully get those in the Christian Church past the point of wonder when it comes to technology. To get beyond the “gee whiz/that’s so cool” initial response, and begin to thinking critically about how these new technologies are impacting our relationship with Christ and each other. Posts on this site will be directed at provoking thought and discussion about the direction technology is taking both the Church and society. We also hope to look at the impact these new technologies are having on the Church’s ability to fulfill its mission.

I hope you will join us…

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2 thoughts on “Getting Past Wonder

  1. I have seen the future of technology and the church. IT IS BRIGHT! Technology is not separating man from God. Man’s sinfulness is separating him from God. If it were not the new Blackberry, it would be the bow and arrow. Man can always find ways to see what God intended for good and turn it to evil. However, I see churches every week who are using social media to connect with those who cannot make it to church, live video streams to take Christ outside of the building and iPads / iPhones as a way to increase communication amongst believers (of which I am one). Like a hammer, technology can be used to help or to hurt. Everyday I see the good that God is doing with technology. I choose to pick up the technological hammer that God has put in my hands and “build homes for His children.” Like you, I hope others use “their hammer” (whether it be an iPhone, app or medicine) to bless the lives of others. Keep writing; I’ll keep reading.

    • Thanks for your comments.
      I would suggest that the tools we use shape us, both physically and mentally. For example, a person who rides a bike everyday to get to school would eventually develop stronger legs and better cardio. The tool (bike) has shaped the user. I would also suggest that we tend to view the world around us in terms of the tools we have to address it. Imagine that the only tool you’ve ever used in your life is a hammer. Your first instinct when coming upon a screw would likely be to pound it like a nail. The tool (hammer) has defined the terms with which you’ve engaged the world.

      If this is the case, then we (both the Christian Church and Society) must begin to look at how the tool that is modern technology is shaping us, irrespective of what the tool is being used for. The purpose of this blog is to start that discussion.

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