Chris Haw writes a fantastic piece over at The Other Journal called The Christian and the iPhone: A Primer for Black Friday. I can only describe reading the article this way: Haw looked inside my brain, made sense of the mess, and miraculously managed to make it coherent. Here’s the opening:
I have managed thus far to resist my desires to buy an iPhone through the lucky confluence of several factors:
(1) I cannot afford one.
(2) In light of the economic state of the world in the last four hundred years, my affection grows almost daily for the economic lifestyle of conservative Anabaptists like the Amish and Bruderhof community, who seem to be among the most economically radical and cutting-edge within the church.
(3) I have spent a few years reading and thinking about the writings of Wendell Berry.
If I had written it myself, I would have included (4) My wife has one (she really needed it for her job), and after the initial intrigue wore off, I can’t come up with a single reason why I need one.
5 responses to “The Christian and the iPhone”
My reasoning is somewhat different. I think the iPhone and the smart phone in general are still their infancy stages. About five years for now (maybe less) there will be nothing less than the iPhone as the standard for phones. It will be the ‘base’ model. My suggestion for Christians is that they do not overspend on the newest technologies. These new technologies will eventually become standard if we simply wait for them. For instance, blue ray will eventually totally replace DVD (although I think that the digital revolution and the combination of TVs and computers together will make any sort of player with discs irrelevant), but we should not be the first buyers of these new products. An immense amount of money could be saved in the church by using older technology that is still good, just using what was new a year ago. We can use the rest of that money for our communities instead of commodities.
Danny: Did you read the article? Because Chris Haw talks about a Catholic theologian named Christine Firer Hinze who promotes a late/slow adopter policy when it comes to new technology. Sounds about like what you’re saying, which I think is a healthy minimum baseline.
Speaking of the Amish, the question they always ask first, especially regarding technology, is “How will it effect our community?” Obviously, the answers vary from community to community, but this will help in understanding why some things are used and some things are not. Perhaps if we were to ask the same simple question our decisions might be different. The question is discussed by the community, decided and then adopted by the community.
One of decisions we face routinely in the “English” community is that of developing good farmland into tract housing. Is the question of effect on the community ever fully vetted? Ever walk down the street to the local gathering place and find half the people with iPods stuck in their ear and the other half staring into a laptop? How does that effect community? How about chain stores and local merchants? We seem to let others – sometimes in faraway places– decide what our community look like. Churches are complicit in this. Where is the sense of questioning what builds community and what diminishes it? Is our culture of individual rights actually desecrating our ability to function as community? Are we just a collection of individuals or something larger?
Michael: Yes, the Amish are wise (and too rare) in asking that question.
Great questions in your second paragraph. We allow far too much to happen to us, rather than being active in ensuring that what occurs in our communities will bring them life.
Thanks for the comment.
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