Culture At Large

Technology and Spirituality


Rachel S. at Alas, a blog discusses a study in the Journal of Marriage and Family on cell phone use and families:

[A] study by sociologist Noelle Chesney...indicates that cell phones are detrimental to family relationships. I am becoming increasingly anti-cell phone for this reason. The need to have to be constantly available is incredibly stressful after a while. I think it may be a good idea for families to turn off their phones at certain times of the day as a method of dealing with the invasiveness of this technology.

Although Rachel writes about this issue with a secular focus on the work/family issues that women especially struggle with, it seems to me that the spiritual ramifications are also worth considering. If technology permits interruptions in our home lives and rare moments of solitude, how do these intrusions impact our spiritual lives? With cell phones, blackberries, and laptops that can accompany us everywhere, are we giving up time for prayer, quiet reflection, or fellowship?

Similarly, in this article on a new Christian humanism ("humanists: people who are unreservedly committed to human life at its fullest, and people deeply pained by human life at its worst") in Christianity Today, Glenn T. Stanton of Focus on the Family criticizes what he calls the "iPod society":

Finally, true humanism will demolish the iPod society—not the device itself, but the social atomization that it represents. When I was young, people held boomboxes on their shoulders, broadcasting to everyone else in their world. If nothing else, you had to interact with the boombox owner to ask him to turn it down. Now we all live in our own, individually selected, iPod worlds. But true humanism will drive us to rediscover community, where we share with each other our fears, joys, and lives.

Technology is supposed to be a tool to make our lives easier, but we often allow it to cause stress by distracting and pulling us in many different directions. Should Christians be wary of these technological trends that can alienate us from each other and from God? Can we voice a uniquely Christian perspective on the dangers of misusing technology?

Topics: Culture At Large, Science & Technology, Technology, Theology & The Church, Faith