Mar 14, 2011

Review: Devices of the Soul

Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines by Steve Talbott is one of the books I found in the library during my browsing. I find he makes many similar points to The Soul in Cyberspace, though he does not work from a Christian foundation. I'd summarize the main point of this book as: we must be cautious of our habits and attitudes of our souls in the use of technology, lest we become accustomed to conforming to them rather than being human.

I'll focus on one way he works this out is related to disabilities. One may have some disability, but that may push you to have a different perspective on the world and indeed grow in ways others do not. Chapters 4 and 5 on this issue are really thought provoking. He shares an instance of a man who was blinded as a child, yet went on to be a major leader in the French Resistance in World War II.

My thought while reading these sections was on suffering. How do Christians view suffering? Do we run from it, like most Americans, that seek ever more comfort and security? Or do we understand that it is something that comes and that God uses it for our good (Romans 8:28)?

I suppose if I were disabled in some way, such as losing a limb, I would want the best technology available to replace the functionality I had. But, all things work together for good as scripture says. Perhaps the decision to get a prosthetic is not one we should make automatically, but thoughtfully. Is this change in life for my good? Undoubtedly. Is it more for my good if I do not use some technology to replace that functionality, but rather learn to function in different ways or be limited in one way and grow in another?

Though not written from a distinctly Christian viewpoint (the author states he was raised in a Christian home, but he makes no statement on his current beliefs), this is a thought provoking book about technology and how our beliefs should shape our view of it.

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