AAR Meeting Book Display

AAR Meeting Book Display

Friday, October 1, 2010

Earbuds and blogsites

Starting, just yesterday, my first blogsite, I have already begun to think about the effects on theology if it is done on the platform of a blog. How does technology help and hinder the work of theology? 
There can be no hard and fast rules. Consider the iPod, “the most familiar, and certainly the most desirable, new object of the twenty-first century.”[1] Apple’s personal music gizmo, was announced in October of 2001, just one month after the September 11 attacks that brought down the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. Since then, the pocket-sized MP3 player has become a trendy success, both economically and technologically. Surely the introduction and proliferation of the iPod must register some effect on society, but what? Is it the popularization of musical eclecticism, the privatization of musical experience, or the deterioration of opportunities for interpersonal exchange (if everyone in public is preoccupied with the sounds coming through their earbuds, who will be available to entertain conversation)? Or is this just a new-fangled gadget, with no real import for anything beyond itself?
The example of the iPod goes to show the difficulty of measuring the effects of something new (in this case, technology) on a society. As Christian disciples and communities strive to stay faithful to the Bible and to the true worship of God, we will have to interact with, use, and sometimes distance ourselves from different facets of our culture. Christians of ages past had to negotiate the movie theater, alcohol, playing cards, and the like. In our generation, the iPod and Facebook present their own unique challenges.
The real question has nothing to do with restoring some lost utopia or sealing Christians off from the world in a “Christian culture” bubble. The real question is: how should those who claim Christian identity participate in every sphere of life? We all have multiple allegiances, multiple affiliations – social, familial, political, national, economic, and so on. How should we deal, as Christians, with competing allegiances and cultures? These are real questions. …

[1] Alan Jacobs, “Present at the Creation: Review of The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness, by Steven Levy,” Christianity Today.com (October 24, 2006), www.christianitytoday.com/books/features/bookwk/061023.html.

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