As I was co-hosting a segment of the Christian Farm and Homestead on Preparedness, Preppers and Agrarians this past Friday we got to talking about technology and Scott Terry, the shows host, mentioned an article I had written on the subject. I decided that since it was on my other blog (For His Glory) I would update the post and put it here. A common assumption with many that look at people moving towards an agrarian lifestyle and asking questions about technology is that that we dislike technology and are seeking to do away with all of it. Below is my older post that has been updated.
How often do we take technology for granted and just accepted it? How often do we look past the present and never truly contemplate the impact technology will have in the future? Do we own technology or does it own us? These, and more, are questions we need to ask when faced with any new, or for that matter, current and past , technology. This is not a matter of seeking to avoid all forms of technology or simply calling all technology bad as we need to realize technology comes in many forms. The clothes we wear, the utensils we use and many other things that we utilize in everyday life are all a result of some form of technology. No, what we need to do is look at all technology with an eye to its impact on us and on the world that God has called us to steward and doing so from a Biblical perspective. The truth is this is what we should do in all areas of our lives since if we are to glorify God in all we do, and we are, then we should view all activities, technology included, in that light.
While the Bible does not necessarily speak directly to a particular technology we can ask ourselves how any particular technology will affect our lives in light of how God would have us live and glorify Him. For example; when we see a technology that will work to divide a family we can know that whatever the technology is it needs to be seriously scrutinized and either minimized in its use or avoided all together. One of the issues that was not dealt with by Christians during the industrial revolution was the affect it would have on the family and from our perspective today we can say it had a decidedly adverse affect. If a technology will take over ones life, as so many tend to do and often without us realizing it, and leave little time for God then we need to deal with that so as to avoid its impact of our walk with God.
One book I highly recommend with regards to getting one to think about technology and our interaction with it is Michael Bunker’s book Surviving Off Off-Grid ( e-book format). Even if you feel you have no desire to live off grid or do not think that society will crumble Bunker asks some probing questions that should make you think about your relationship with technology and as may often be the case its hold over you. The world often puts forth that to question technological advances is somehow being backward and ignorant. However, the issue is not just about whether one accepts a certain technology or not but whether we have thought through the implications of its use. These implications are not to be limited to the present but also to its impact on future generations as well. We are often a shortsighted people who are much like Esau (Gen 25:29-34) who for present gain sacrificed the future.
If we are honest with ourselves we will have to admit that with all the promises of technology saving us time and effort we are as busy as ever, maybe busier. We have been duped by the allure of what we are told technology can offer and have bought into a lie. A lie that says leisure is just around the next technological corner but what we will find around the corner is another corner and another marvel to buy and another marvel to consume our time and affections. What happens is that once ones appetite for technology is whetted you then begin to work all the more to be able to get that next time saving advance all the time giving up the present for what you think the future may hold.
We live in a consumer-based economy and thus technology needs to be in a constant state of change so as to always be creating the possibility of selling one more item, one more gadget. We need to be vigilant so as not to get caught up in this trap of consumerism and seeking to keep up with technology, which will never happen since as soon as you buy the latest wonder it will be obsolete and you will need to buy the next one. What is constant in all of this is that the more we rely on technology the more we are apt to be enslaved by it rather than us enslaving it. We become dependent on whatever it is and should it cease to exist, or dare I say not work, we are left befuddled with regards to how we are to move forward.
When it comes to any technology what we need to do is to stop, take a breath, and ask if that technology is being used by us or are we being used by it. If tomorrow the Internet was to go down many would be lost. If we had no electricity for a day, weeks or even months what would we do? I am not even talking about survival here but what would be our mindset. Would we sit in front of our TVs or computers pining away for it come back online? Would we be lost since all our “friends” are on Facebook, Google+ or some other social network and we realize we have no personal contact with “actual” people? What would we do with all our free time, would we remember how to read, how to talk to family or could we even find the kitchen?
Let me confess; I have made connections with people on Facebook that I do consider friends and I have corresponded with people via my blog and other connections on the Internet. But it was so much more meaningful when I could actually meet these people face to face or at a minimum was able to talk on the phone with them. Technology has allowed me to learn and share insights that would have taken longer and been more difficult if it had not existed. I can see the good that has come via technology. However, I have to admit I have not been as discerning as I should be in monitoring my use of technology as I have, as many of us have, been sucked up into the black hole of “technological acceptance.”
As I write this article on my laptop to be posted over the Internet I wonder if I am a hypocrite in questioning technology. I would say that I would be if I was saying all technology, at anytime, was wrong. What I want to stress is not the total abandonment of technology but that we need to seriously ask questions about the technology we use and how we use it. As I have already said we need to ask what the consequences of any technology could be. We need to be constantly aware of our reliance, and often-total dependence, on technology and work to avoid such situations. If you live in the city or have a job that is technology driven it may be difficult to not be dependent. We need to ask if we have a plan for what to do if for some reason God decides to pull the plug? What will we do when He moves to show us that we need to rely more on Him than Microsoft, Mac or Dell. Most of us do not have any plans and until the last few years I had not even contemplated such a scenario. Michael Bunker’s book, and a few others I have read recently, have made me begin to think about these things more deeply.
I alluded to this previously but one example of technology, and its associated mindset, being blindly accepted without much reservation was the Industrial Revolution. When we entered the Industrial Revolution Christians did not ask the questions they should have and we have thus paid a heavy price. We as believers did not ask what God would have us do by looking at the affect the Industrial Revolution would have on His people. The following articles make some very good observations with regards to the impact of technology on mankind:
Reforming the Family – Rev. Brian M. Abshire
Machines and Family (Pt 1 of Series) – Howard king
Industrialism: Rooted in Greed (Pt. 2 of Series) – Howard king
Efficiency vs the Family – Scott Terry
This all said what should we do. Throughout this article I have suggested questions we need to ask but we need to go further. One action we have taken as a family, and need to do more often, so that we recognize our dependence on technology is often more than our dependence than on God is to take a technology fast for a week. During that time we work to minimize our use of the technology we have come to so rely on. Apart from work, as I do have to make a living and am sure my employer would not want to go along, there will be no computers, thus no internet. We only use our phones for emergencies and with regards to cooking are limited to our stove and now that we have a wood burning stove will be able to limit that as well. Actually before we did our first fast even making the decision to do so showed some of our over reliance and desire for technology in our family as there were some in the family that balked a little. It was not until we talked about curtailing our use of technology that we realized how dependent we had become on it.
In taking part in a “technology fast’ we desired to grow closer to God. Not necessarily because of the lack of technology but because of the time we had that was no longer absorbed by the technology we use could be directed towards God. Let me say, if this is done simply to say we have avoided technology I think we miss the point. No, we want to do this so that we can realize how dependent we have become on technology, often at the cost of our dependence on God, and work, by God’s strength, to rely on Him as we should. Also, this, as with all things needs to be done for His glory and that needs to be at the forefront of our minds.
As we seek to better evaluate and discern the myriad of technological advances around us I pray this evaluation will lead us to grow closer to Him as we limit and/or remove those things that while seemingly good often end up impinging on time with Him, with family and with ones church.