I thought it was about time I updated my reading on Christians and using the internet – it’s a long time since 1999! And so I dived into Digital Disciple by Adam Thomas (Abingdon Press, 2011).
I have to say there was a lot Adam Thomas and I do not agree on, but that’s ok:
- reading books that make you shout at them are always good – it makes you think
- Adam Thomas is a totally different generation to me, and perhaps that makes a big difference
- He is also coming from a totally different life experience to me, so will not necessarily draw the same conclusions.
This is not a book review, more some of my reflections on some of the points raised in the book.
The impression that comes across is that he starts from the place that the internet is bad, if not dangerous, or at least that there are many dangers intertwined with the good. I suppose the latter is a fair point to make, but personally I see the technology itself a neutral and the people and how they use it that are good, bad or indifferent.
Thomas claims (p 3) that the speed of innovation has stopped us from pausing and thinking hard about its effect on our lives. This is, I think, a generational difference. He is in his late twenties, the first of a generation that has never known the world without the internet. I am slightly (!) older than that, and so my generation had a choice to make as to whether to “get into” this internet thing or not. As far back as the mid 1990s my decision was that if this was something that people were going to get into, the church had better be there too – so for me there was a pausing and reflecting and a conscious decision. But I understand his point for those for whom the internet just is, but I doubt people agonise so much about whether they should read books, or use a phone to ring someone…
So, not surprisingly, I agree with his assertion (p 6) that the virtual world has added a new dimension to our lives and discipleship.
Much of Thomas’ focus on the internet is that of gaming and googling. Surprisingly there is not much focus on social media – by definition the more social parts of the internet revolution. He has concerns over exchanging “real life” for a “virtual world” and worries about that.
There seems to be no concept of the fact that the life encountered on line can be the only “real world” some can participate in, or the positives and life-enhancing opportunities the internet has brought for those of us for whom that is the case.
But what he does say (p35) is,
every connection holds within it a seed of holiness which is the potential to notice God who makes all connections possible
Amen to that!
He concludes the book with Psalm 139
139 You have looked deep
into my heart, Lord,
and you know all about me.
2 You know when I am resting
or when I am working,
and from heaven
you discover my thoughts.
3 You notice everything I do
and everywhere I go.
4 Before I even speak a word,
you know what I will say,
5 and with your powerful arm
you protect me
from every side.
6 I can’t understand all of this!
Such wonderful knowledge
is far above me.
7 Where could I go to escape
from your Spirit
or from your sight?
8 If I were to climb up
to the highest heavens,
you would be there.
If I were to dig down
to the world of the dead
you would also be there.
reminding us that the presence of God is in all creation – including all tech!
Has anyone else read the book? What did you think?