77 Questions to ask about Technology

77 Questions to ask about Technology

Technology is a tool and as with any other tool the saying is true, “We make our tools and our tools make us.” Man makes hammers and hammers make callouses on man’s hand. Use a hammer too much and you’ll have blisters instead. We use our brains to create digital media and digital media shapes how our brains think.

French philosopher Jacques Ellul recognized the powerful effect of technology on the individual and the community and proposed 77 questions we should ask before adopting any given technology into our lives. If we were to answer these questions before accepting the use of a given technology into our lives…well it might have the potential to change our lives. At the very least we would be conscious of what kind of live we are choosing to live. As Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Continue reading “77 Questions to ask about Technology”

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Short Sermons?

T. G. Drummond

A few months ago I heard of a certain young gentleman, we shall call him “Sam”, who has advocated for 8 minute sermons in church, because that is the average attention span of Americans today.[1] I have not heard Sam’s arguments personally, but I imagine they go along the lines of this: the average American attention span is 8 minutes (or less), therefore any part of a sermon that goes beyond 8 minutes will fall on inattentive ears and be useless, so why even preach it? It will do no good and might do much harm in frustrating the congregation by making them sit on uncomfortable pews for longer than they can pay attention to, and will ultimately turn people away from the church. Continue reading “Short Sermons?”

Does God Care What Kind of Music I Like?

This question was posed to Ken Myers at the Edwards Institute 2011 Conference on Apologetics and the Arts. It is the subject of his fourth and last lecture, all of which can be listened to and downloaded here. Myers poses 16 further questions that need to be asked in order to answer the original question. I encourage any who listen to music to go through and ask themselves these questions (it will be helpful to listen to his lectures given at the conference first): Continue reading “Does God Care What Kind of Music I Like?”

Let the Reader Understand, Part 2

In my previous post, I outlined the rules for analytical reading of expository literature that Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren give in their book, “How to Read a Book.” In this post, I will outline the rules that they give for analytical reading of imaginative literature. Imaginative literature encompasses some of “easiest” (e.g. novels) and “hardest” (e.g. epic poems) literature to read. I put those descriptors in quotes because the genres assumed “easy” are often harder than they appear, and the ones assumed “hard” are often easier than they appear. Without further ado, here are the rules: Continue reading “Let the Reader Understand, Part 2”

Let the Reader Understand, Part 1

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

– Francis Bacon

Reading is perhaps one of the most significant activities a human can do. The capacities for language, rationality, and imagination are some of the characteristics that set mankind apart from other animals, and reading is one of the best way to cultivate those characteristics. It is even more important for Christians, because we believe that God wrote a book, thereby endowing the activities of reading and writing with a certain dignity and seriousness, and placing any who read that book under an obligation to understand it correctly. Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren have written a great book entitled, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. In it they give 15 rules for analytical reading of Expository books to help readers answer the four basic questions that all demanding readers must ask. Expository books are books written to communicate knowledge primarily in a propositional way; these rules do not apply directly to imaginative literature, however there are some equivalent rules for that genre as well which will take form the substance of a later post. Before proceeding to the rules, two qualifications must be made, first, many books are not worthy of this level of reading, the reader must read each book according to its merits; second, these rules describe an ideal performance of analytical reading which is the measure of achievement, such an ideal cannot always be reached but gives readers a goal to strive for and directions on how to proceed.

Continue reading “Let the Reader Understand, Part 1”

Does the Bible Talk About Church Music? Yes.

Colossians 3:16

Ὁ λόγος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐνοικείτω ἐν ὑμῖν πλουσίως, ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδάσκοντες καὶ νουθετοῦντες ἑαυτούς, ψαλμοῖς ὕμνοις ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς ἐν [τῇ] χάριτι ᾄδοντες ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν τῷ θεῷ

The word of Christ, let it dwell [continually] in you (p) richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another, [with] psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, in {the} grace singing in your (p) hearts to God.[1]

This verse has an incredible amount to say about how we worship God, specifically, how and why we sing in church. Corporate worship is an odd thing if you think about it, a group of people gathering together once a week to sing songs together and hear someone speak for 30-45 minutes from a text written 2000+ years ago. Yet it is what we are commanded to do, and singing is an important element of corporate worship. Churches show what they view as the most important elements of corporate worship by how much time they spend on them. In many churches, the amount of time given to singing is second only to the sermon, showing its place of high importance in corporate worship. However, while many Evangelicals would agree that preaching is a very important (if not the most important) element of a church service, many would not say so of singing. Statements such as, “it’s just a matter of opinion/taste” abound in the discussion of church music. Yet even the language of taste/preference implies a difference in the purpose that music is intended to achieve. Musicologists Paul Munson and Joshua Drake put it this way,

Consider the meaning of “taste” and “preference.” Are these not merely a sense that certain forms realize our purposes better than do other forms? Tim prefers a stationary bike so he can read as he exercises; Sally prefers a traditional bike so she can breathe fresh air and see the countryside. Tim prefers an orange for his snack so he can perceive its array of aromas, tastes, and textures; Sally prefers orange juice so she can quench her thirst. As with bikes and snacks, so, too, with everything: people with preferences may or may not be conscious of their purposes, but if they were to have no purpose at all—no end to attain—they wouldn’t have a preference. When Christians prefer different kinds of church music, it is because they disagree about what it is for. Different theologies of church music naturally result in different styles, as we search out the forms that most effectively realize our purposes.[2]

Continue reading “Does the Bible Talk About Church Music? Yes.”

Why write a blog?

T. G. Drummond

I admit that I do not think very highly of blogging. First, because it seems as if everyone and their mother-in-law think that they have something important enough to say to write it down and publish on the internet. Second, because as a medium a blog is not very conducive to deep thinking and civil discourse. Consider the following points 1) the writer can hide behind the veil of anonymity, 2) commenters can hide behind the veil of anonymity, 3) in most cases the only one to ever see the post before it is published is the writer, it is in no way peer reviewed and edited like academic books and journals. Third, there are so many blogs out there (especially of the religious type) that are so full of poorly researched and poorly written garbage that I hesitate to even write a blog because of its association with them. The fourth and final reason that I hesitate to blog is that the word itself is very ugly, “blog” sounds like some sort of swamp monster from a cheap sci-fi movie (journaling, essaying, chronicling, noting, observing, etc. would all be more beautiful than “blogging”).

So why then have I decided to write this (woefully named) “blog”?

  1. In order to incentivize myself to write more often (writing is the best tool I know of to order my thoughts).
  2. In order to hopefully get feedback from the hapless readers who are too kind to just click away after being bored to death by the first paragraph of an essay.
  3. In order that maybe someone somewhere might in some small way be helped by something I have said (probably accidentally, as the saying goes, “even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes”).

So, what should the unfortunate reader expect? First, the topics will be mostly within the realm of Christian theology and Biblical studies, because that is where my interests primarily lie (with some occasional ventures into apologetics and media ecology).  Second, that there will be no rhyme or reason behind the frequency with which I update the site, some weeks I may have both the time and the inspiration for 2 posts, and other months I might have neither.

There you have it, proceed to read these posts at your own risk. I know that your time is valuable and so shall try not to post something utterly unworthy of it (but no promises).