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A Few Musings about Technology in the Church

This morning, our newspaper ran a front page article about a church that “goes high tech.” A very successful church, but I don’t think this pastor comes across very well. Maybe he was unfairly represented, but he did say, “When we started doing all that [online] stuff, some of the older people [said], ‘I don’t know how to use the World Wide Web,’ . . . We’re like, ‘For the five or six really old people, we’ll print it out for you.’ ”

That makes me cringe.

A relatively famous friend of my father’s just recently responded to an email he had sent . . . over two years ago! In said response, she lamented, I should have been born in the middle ages, when letters arrived on horseback and never more than two a year. Then maybe I could keep up.

Sounds like Wendell Berry’s famous (or infamous) essay about why he’ll never buy a computer. After its publication, he had a chance to respond to his critics and subsequently wrote that, due to the backlash against him, “I can only conclude that I have scratched the skin of a technological fundamentalism that, like other fundamentalisms, wishes to monopolize a whole society and, therefore, cannot tolerate the smallest difference of opinion.”

Yes, dear reader, I am aware of the irony that you and I are reading this challenge on a computer.

Furthermore, I frequently use the computer and a Smart Phone email to communicate because of their relative ease. This is important; I’m not knocking it . . . perhaps the deep question is our attitude towards technology, rather than our immediate use of it

At a recent conference about social networking in the church, a dear friend and respected colleague, after listening to positive aspects of new technology and carefully considered warnings, stood up: “Are we making people feel less than if they do not have access to these technologies?”

I’m not suggesting that we hearken back to the Middle Ages. Clearly, our situation is much more complicated. We’re never going back.

But let us try to remember that, with the steep learning curve, not everyone is able to or – for that matter – wants to keep up. And so, regardless of the medium, let this be a call to making every word count. Because every person counts.

About Andrew Taylor-Troutman

I am a pastor and a preacher, a writer, a husband and a father. My professional and personal lives are deeply involved with story-telling: stories that are silly and poignant or profound and commonplace. Stories that are tear-jerkers and belly-shakers. Stories about my son, Sam, and the congregation I serve, New Dublin Presbyterian Church. Each in its own way, these personal narratives shed light on the great story that God is writing with humankind and all of creation.

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