Mark D. Roberts

Here are links to two thoughtful and thought-provoking articles related to the impact of technology on our lives. One deals specifically with implications for the church. The other shoots for a broader target, but has many implications for the church and its mission.

The Face-to-Face Gospel and the Death of Distance

The first article appears on the Christianity Today website. It is an interview of Al Erisman by Tim Stafford. Erisman, who spent over thirty years as an executive for Boeing, is now a teacher at Seattle Pacific University. He is the co-founder and editor of Ethix magazine ( Erisman is one of the most thoughtful and insightful Christians I know when it comes to the conversation about faith and business.

Here is one excerpt from the interview:

That brings us to the fifth layer, where we consider what technology has done to
people. We all see that people have shorter attention spans, read less,
and try to do two things at once and get distracted. Churches see both
the positive and negative aspects of technology every week. It is great
to deal with people who can instantly respond to needs since they are
always connected. It is challenging to deal with a congregation that is
text messaging in church or gets distracted when the sermon goes longer
than 20 minutes.

We need to think about the communications challenge
similar to a cross-cultural challenge. A missionary would not go to the
Philippines without trying to understand the language and culture of
the people there. So is it important for both church leaders and
missionaries to understand the culture of the digital generation.

‘The Shallows’ by Nicholas Carr: The Internet warps you

A couple of years ago, technology writer Nicholas Carr stirred the pot with his article in the Atlantic: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Now Carr has published a book that appears to underscore his affirmative answer to this troubling question. Here’s an excerpt from The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains:

The news is even more disturbing than I had suspected. Dozens of
studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, educators and Web designers
point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an
environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted
thinking and superficial learning. It’s possible to think deeply while
surfing the Net, just like it’s possible to think shallowly while
reading a book, but that’s not the type of thinking the technology
encourages and rewards.

The review The Shallows in USA Today is more of an introduction than a review, an appetizer that gets you ready for the main meal, which is Carr’s book. That appetizer was enough for me. I’ve purchased The Shallows and am looking forward to reading it. In the meanwhile, however, I need to hurry on and check a few more blogs.   

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