For some time now I have been dabbling in a study of technology and, more specifically, how technology affects our humanity and spiritual lives. There are some great books out there on the topic. I would suggest iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives by Craig Detweiler; The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies; From the Garden to the City: the Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology by John Dyer; and Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology by Derek C. Schuurman. These men know of what they speak.
But what I find interesting when I teach on the topic, is how quickly it brings up attitudes and feelings. We go from talking about the advantages and disadvantages of iPads and Smart phones, to talking about the people who use (or don’t use) them. It’s fascinating to watch how quickly the heart can override the mind and how rapidly fear or pride can slip in.
On October 20, 1956, C. S. Lewis wrote a brief letter to Michael Edwards. Earlier Edwards had written a not-so-brief 50 odd page letter to Lewis looking for some guidance on how Christianity regarded various aspects of life, such as technology. The third of his four short paragraphs reads,
“Of course enjoying equipment or motoring is not a sin. The point I wanted to make is that excessive excitement about gadgetry and the belief . . . that the possession of, say, wireless & aeroplanes, somehow makes one superior to those who lack them & even justifies one in conquering such people, is bosh. My motto wd. be ‘Have your toys, have your conveniences, but for heaven’s sake don’t start talking as if those things really mattered as, say, charity matters.’”1
When talking about technology God wants to hear the love.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:2 (King James).
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 800. Italics in original.