catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 1, Num 2 :: 2002.09.27 — 2002.10.10


Tuning in without tuning out

Is technology good?

My husband and I can go for months in which we do not turn on our television. When this happens, we generally feel more content and motivated and joyful.

I heard a report on NPR the other day about a grade school in Oregon where kindergartners through eighth graders learn all of their subjects without computers. The founder of the school claims that these children’s imaginative play is more original and creative than the imitative play of children who sit in front of computers or television every day.

But is technology bad?

Television producers in South Africa are using an HIV-positive character on Sesame Street to teach children how to deal with the rampant AIDS epidemic that is killing their parents, siblings, and friends.

culture is not optional would not exist as it is without internet technology and we firmly believe that this medium will be integral to the influence of Christians on twenty-first century society.

As with most issues, it is not possible to put the many elements of technology into tidy black and white boxes. Too much or too little can be a bad thing and just the right amount can do immeasurable good.

I was thinking about this principle last Sunday as our pastor was explaining the Parable of the Sower. He analyzed the various types of soil and then said that we have a choice about which soil we will be. When confronted with the truth of the Word, we can be hard-hearted, we can be too concerned with other things to make time, we can be initially interested without following through. Or, in an ideal situation, we can receive the Word and let it change us.

As an avid gardener, this parable took on new meaning for me once I learned a little bit about soil science. The number of and proper proportions for soil nutrients can be dizzying, but they need to be in proper balance to achieve optimum plant growth. A plant also needs the proper amount of organic material, evidence of living organisms, in order to thrive.

Like plants, we need balance in order to thrive. This may seem like an obvious lesson, but it’s one that, to look at most of our lives, goes unheeded. I tend to get so busy that I start to lose track of time, forget obligations, and resent my responsibilities instead of being joyful about my tasks. The seed becomes a victim of the weeds. It took one of my uncles many years to internalize the necessity of balance. His marriage eventually failed because he and his wife did not balance their own responsibilities with time for one another.

But balance is not only a useful idea as it applies to our daily living; balance also applies to our approach to culture. If we reject culture completely, we minimize our effect on culture and maximize our reputation as naive and irrelevant. If we accept culture completely, we again minimize our effect on culture, while maximizing our reputation as hypocritical and thoughtless.

The approach to culture that we as an organization see as being most appropriate is one of discernment. This attitude allows us, as Christians, to analyze various aspects of culture, determine what is positive or negative in the context of our worldview, and respond practically in order to promote what is truthful. In the case of technology, this indicates that we should not abandon television or R-rated films altogether, but that we should strive to determine how these media can serve the God of all creation who is love, who is truth, who is beauty in perfection.

Technology can be good or bad, but is usually both at once. We need to be wary of total rejection and total acceptance, instead using the information we have and the brains God has given us to determine what is truthful. We then need to make our lives a tangible witness of that truth in the way we spend money, create art, and make daily choices.

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