Published Aug 30, 2022
By academic training, I am a historian. My natural inclination, therefore, was to commend to you an old book, or at the very least, a book about old things. Instead, I am commending to you a book about cutting-edge technologies for which the ink on your copy will be barely dry. Why? Thacker’s work highlights the way that we are abandoning the old things because of the technological devices that have become like artificial appendages to our bodies. You are aware of the ways that angst and suspicion have replaced respect for authority or that salacious lust has replaced the bonds of family. Thacker shows us some more fundamental changes that underlie those and many others. The design of the hardware and software around us shapes us toward efficiency, falsehood, self-absorption, and division. Thacker contrasts these against corresponding biblical values: wisdom, truth, responsibility, and our true identify in Christ. Technology can make of us efficiency-drones, sometimes while making us less efficient (email is supposed to be more efficient than putting a stamp on an envelope, but how much money, time, and effort do you spend fending off the deluge of spam that email has created?). The biblical alternative is not inefficiency, but wisdom. Instead of the “more, better, faster” of efficiency, God often calls us to patience with delays, contentment with less, and “down-time” in contemplation. In similar ways, technology enables liars to lie to us more effectively, makes us expect a world tailored to our own preferences, and invites us to an identity often based upon those lies and suited to those preferences. God instead calls us to embrace truth, to build a life tailored to others’ needs, and to find our identity (and our unity) in Christ. These forces are not only changing our world, but they are also changing our churches. Yes, read The Baptist Way (the book I almost chose to review) or The Pilgrim’s Progress, but also consider Following Jesus in a Digital Age as a lifeline to rescue us from a world in which those other books seem like relics of an age passed by.