Monday, September 19, 2016

"He was once possessed"

.... This is far from a generic anti-technology, anti-Internet screed. There is profound religious insight in this essay. The gist of it is here:
In his survey of how the modern West lost widespread religious practice, A Secular Age, the philosopher Charles Taylor used a term to describe the way we think of our societies. He called it a “social imaginary” — a set of interlocking beliefs and practices that can undermine or subtly marginalize other kinds of belief. We didn’t go from faith to secularism in one fell swoop, he argues. Certain ideas and practices made others not so much false as less vibrant or relevant. And so modernity slowly weakened spirituality, by design and accident, in favor of commerce; it downplayed silence and mere being in favor of noise and constant action. The reason we live in a culture increasingly without faith is not because science has somehow disproved the unprovable, but because the white noise of secularism has removed the very stillness in which it might endure or be reborn.
Andrew says that if churches stopped trying to outdo the secular world with light shows and racket, and instead offered a place of silence from which to escape the noise of modernity, they might draw more people. Maybe he’s right. ....

We who immerse ourselves in information technology become a people who regard the world at the level of sensation. What does surrendering to this technology teach us about being, nature, and truth? It is not a neutral tool. As Andrew’s essay makes plain — and this is something he had to discover for himself from experience — the particular content of the data we take in is not as important as the form in which we receive it. You might even say that the medium is the message. ....

Ultimately, Andrew’s essay is a humanist religious testimony, bearing witness against one of the most powerful gods of our place and time. It is an essay about possession and deliverance. One lesson I take from the piece is that we don’t have to wait for genetics laboratories to abolish man, in the sense C.S. Lewis meant. We are doing it ourselves, one click at a time. [more]