The Mac is Not a Typewriter

Posted on August 22, 2010

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There is an irony in posting this here. I hope you appreciate that by the end of this little entry.

I just finished The Shallows, a sobering account by Nicholas Carr of the way in which we are welcoming a frenziedness into our souls.

He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.

I want to link this with the Soul Care and the Roots of Clergy Burnout by Anne Dilenschneider published in the Huffington Post. Dilenschneider suggests a similar trajectory for pastor’s since the 1920’s, just as Carr does in his narrative.

Have a read and then consider this.

Remember the way in which coal miners would take canaries down the mine with them to test if the air was safe and to give an early warning of the rise of deadly methane? The canary would topple over being more sensitive to the changes in the atmosphere.

Pastors are a congregation’s canary.

Where our soul-health goes, so goes the soul-health of the congregation.

Pastors are a congregation’s lens – we focus and magnify the soul-health of the people of God.

There has been a recent rise in attention to soul-care. You see a return to an emphasis on Sabbath-keeping, solitude and silence as spiritual disciplines. Yet at the same time you see the rise of new online tools for spiritual formation which break up the deep thinking that such soul-care assumes and expects.

This is a tension yet to be addressed.

We did address a tension like this once before at the Reformation. 16th Century technology shaped the Reformation and the Reformation’s heirs in Evangelical Protestantism. We are people of the book. Our life in Christ is defined through the long scope of the Bible’s narrative as God reveals himself to the nations. Our liturgies and orders of worship of the printing press.

Where will we find contemplation, reflection, and rest for our souls now?

Where are we going?