Monday, October 24, 2005

Led by a Pure Heart, or Driven by Idols?

In a recent post, Doug Groothius writes "Against Multi-tasking". Decrying the worldy imperatives which seem to drive us to use modern technologies such as cellphones, laptops, iPods, etc., to "multi-task", thus distracting us from meaningful focus with the present moment, Groothius urges his readers to rebel against them. Doug's post inspired Dan Edelen of Cerulean Sanctum, who has written on similar themes before, to post his take on the topic, titled "Are You a Hamster?". And CJR of RunToWin blog provided some insightful comments on the both their articles in his post, "In Praise of Busyness?". This interesting dialogue sparked my own thinking on how blogging technology may be used for good, or for evil. I quote my own comments, in response to the Groothius post, below:

"I think Christians, especially, ought to question how much spiritual value multi-tasking holds. Our hearts are so easily distracted; perhaps we use multi-tasking as a way of making ourselves feel we are accomplishing something, when in fact we are just distracting ourselves from what really needs to be done, because of an uneasy conscience.

I'm all for using technology, but too often, technology seems to be using us. Still, like one of the other commenters here, I don't think that technology itself is the culprit.

For example, this blog that we are interacting through is made possible by technology, and provides opportunity for people who might otherwise never have met to engage with and hopefully edify one another.

I just came back from the first-ever GodBlog convention held this past week at Biola University.

One of the themes of the conference was that if Christians who blog do so thoughtfully and excellently, with a civility, humility and love that reflects that Christ is indeed Lord over our lives, then we can build a like-minded community that will be a powerful force for positive influence on our culture. Thus technology can be constructive if used properly.

Still, I agree... that if we who set about this mandate fall prey to the false notion that mere busyness equals significance and accomplishment, then what we end up saying on our blogs probably won't run very deep, (nor be very helpful)."

Building on CJR's argument that it is not modern technologies that keep us distracted from purposeful activity, but rather the propensity of the human heart, I would add that, in the right hands, guided by the right kind of heart towards right ends, technologies can be constructive.

"To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled" Titus 1:15, ESV

I think modern life, for those of us blessed enough to live in a materially-blessed nation such as the United States, presents us with the age-old temptations to spiritual laziness and complacency that the love of money and comfort has always presented. Except that many Americans are in a position to make such things into idols perhaps in a greater way than many other cultures in this world, who don't have our wealth and means, or more than previous generations, whose lives were more dominated by concerns of survival.

So we Americans have built a "system of living" that is based on the lies of the world-- that material wealth, physical attractiveness, achieving power, etc,-- is what brings true fulfillment and happiness in life. But such false notions of what true life is about is, of course, not limited to American culture. How do we topple such a system, so that we are freed to live the abundant life that Jesus promised?

By growing in our own discipleship and understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the kingdom of God, and by destroying any idols that dwell within our own hearts. I must ask myself-- what, or for whom, am I truly living; does my lifestyle, my behavior, and the innermost secrets of my heart reveal that I am really a lover of Christ, or of this world system?

It is hard to sacrifice the goodies I've come to take for granted, and even to expect and justify, as a sign that I am "blessed of God" -- so may God have mercy on me, that I may have a right relationship to Him and thus, to everything else in this brief life.

Brad H of 21st Century Transformation also has a take on this topic.

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