Feb 28, 2011

A Digital Disciple

Nifty: I'm the Digital Disciple for the day. I look forward to seeing how this site might grow. The purpose is to help Christians working with digital technology connect with each other.

Technology Supporting Thinking

I've been interested in the nature of technology for some time, which I can trace back to both my near life-long fascination with computer technology and to all the thinking I had to do as a PhD student in engineering.  Though my particular focus here is the intersection of technology and theology, I have been trying to read about the nature of technology - what is this thing that I work with so much?

To pursue that, I went to the campus library a few months ago and started searching the database on some keywords that I thought would get me close. Taking the resulting little scraps of paper with some call numbers, I set out for the shelves. As an aside, I think this is one area where search engines like Google fail. They are designed to take you to exactly what you want to find. In my case, I don't know exactly what I wanted to find but I was able to find some books that, according to the library's information in their database, looked close. Then, I could park myself at that bookshelf and browse through the books around that one that I found. I picked up several books that way - perhaps 1/3 of which were not part of my original set I went to find.

Anyway, I've been reading through them (or just returning them after finding them not helpful or indecipherable) and will bring up some of them in the future here. My point in bringing this up is to point out I used a database (a very modern tool) to find books (a very old tool) that are organized by subject (an in-between tool - using call numbers by subject). Technology is great!

Feb 25, 2011


We take a break from our regular blog posting to ask you to wisely recycle your electronics as part of caring for the earth. Here are five suggestions on places to take your old electronics. Our county now offers electronics recycling at our local recycling centers, so that's another option for those in Jackson County, NC.

Feb 23, 2011

God Designed the Problem and the Solution

I must give credit to Dr. Andrew Peterson from one of his lectures in his RTS Virtual course Disabilities and the Church for pointing out this passage and its teaching on technology.

Take a look at Isaiah 28:23-29. The prophet describes certain agricultural tasks, noting that there are different ways to process different crops. In verse 29 we find that the matching of crop to technology (particularly seen in verses 27-28) is from God. How is this so? After all, people invented the tools and techniques.

Feb 18, 2011

Cyclic Reaction to Technology

Go read this article in Slate about historic reactions against new technology.

I think it brings up a good point about how there are legitimate concerns about "older" technology, but that we may or may not see the terrible consequences predicted by early criticisms of a new technology.  Sometimes we just have to wait and see how something plays out.

That said, we can still use some discernment and caution today.

Feb 16, 2011

Where Does our Skill Come From?

Given that we engage in technology, and that some engage more than others, where does that skill come from?

Exodus 28:3 is just one place to look of many that make a similar point. Here, we see that God has given the skill needed to make the priestly garments for Aaron and his sons. It is not that these "skillful" folks didn't learn and practice, but that God ultimately gave them their inclination and abilities.

Maybe this is obvious to you, but for me as an engineer, this fact can get obscured. When going through my undergraduate degree, it is easy to think that engineering is about all the various science, math, equations, graphs, and other skills you need. It seems to come from professors, textbooks, standard tables, or bare scientific laws. Or perhaps, an engineering student may credit his or her math-oriented brain for being able to take this all in and apply it in a useful way.

It is humbling to point, not to the collective wisdom of man on statics, calculus, and power curves, nor to our own seeming brilliance, but to God as the source of what we are able to do in technology.

Feb 14, 2011

Pitfalls of Twitter for Ministry

From an article about social media in general:

One of the things I learned is that technology and social media present me with a glaring paradox in my own life: Social media have the ability to make me feel connected and isolated. I found that this isolation, or loneliness, is often rooted in disconnection with those we are in physical relationships with, and as we spend more time fostering online connections, the chasm widens.

Go read the whole thing

Feb 11, 2011

Virtual Confession - There's an App for That

Saw the news this week about an app for the iPhone/iPad that assists Catholics in performing confession.To be clear, you cannot actually engage in confession through the app - it is only an aid, particularly directed toward those that have not engaged in it for some time. A couple comments on this and on some comments the Pope made...

Feb 9, 2011

Against Virtual Church

I'm a big fan of technology. I think it is absolutely amazing what we are able to do with it in terms of transportation, communication, medicine, and so many other fields. However, there are some things that are not improved by technology, even if they are possible.

Being part of the local church is one of those.

Feb 7, 2011

Review: The Soul in Cyberspace

I read The Soul in Cyberspace a while back and it still makes me think about how we use Internet technology.

A major point of this book is that much of the information technology we employ now (more even than back in 1999 when it was written) disembodies us and decontextualizes information. And, this is bad. Bad for deep understanding and bad for community (among other things).

Feb 4, 2011

Technology shaping Christianity

This is a three year old article, but it is an interesting take on how different Christian leaders view technology. Some comments on each person's statement:

Feb 2, 2011

Technology Required for Worship

There's plenty of ink and pixels spilled to discuss how we should "do worship" in the church. One can tune in to some of the megachurches that broadcast their work to see what technology they use. Here's an example - an iBand.

I confess my church worship experience is very limited, so I don't know if that is extreme or mainstream. In thinking about technology in our current church, we use instruments, some fluorescent lights, an audio system, various printed pages (a bulletin, a hymnal, etc.), chairs, and probably other things I'm leaving out.

However, not everywhere in the world has these things, nor have they always had some of these ( like an audio system). So what is the very basic technology required to have church? I would include only three things:
  • Bread making
  • Wine making
  • Some vessel for holding water
  • Some means of storing and reading text
As best I can tell, that covers everything required. The church administers the sacrements, so we need bread, wine, and some thing to hold water. We could probably even leave out the water vessel if the church is close enough to some body of water or a spring. Finally, some means for storing and retrieving the text of the Bible is necessary for worship. We don't need anything else to pray, sing, read scripture, administer sacrements, preach, or pronounce benedictions.

I don't think that all technology above and beyond this is bad, but this should make us consider what is really essential and central to worship.

What do you think - did I leave any technology out?