017: How the Garden of Eden and Technology Connect with Dr Craig Detweiler


Shownotes – Episode 017: How the Garden of Eden and Technology Connect | Interview with Craig Deweiler, PhD | Author of iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual Lives

technologyDr Craig Detweiler is Professor of Communication at Pepperdine University. His interest in technology and the development of a theology of technology to some degree was piqued by his children’s fascination with devices. It was trying to discern how God felt about technology. Where do it come from? Where is it going and how do we as a thoughtful people respond?

Living from God’s Center in the Midst of a Technologically Connected Life

Living from God’s center is about being rooted in a particular way. In the garden of Eden the tree was in the center of the garden, this one area that was in the sense to be untouched, revolve and rotate around. In taking that forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve kind of displaced God from the center of their life. Living from God’s center is putting God back in the center of our lives. It is allowing us to connect with that deep rootedness.

With these phones now we are kind of constantly on and constantly connected, which is great if people needs to reach us if there is a problem, if there is an emergency. But, it’s very difficult if we never kind of have a break in our life, if we kind of feel the constant distraction, the constant pull of updates. So how do we bracket that mobiquity, that constant availability in a way that allows us to reconnect with God, to find our center. What prompted the book is that need to make space in our lives that is sacred, that isn’t interrupted by urgent calls and prompts and texts.

Sacred Time and Technology

By sacred time Dr Detweiler means to be truly focused, to be fully undistracted, to be available to God, to receive knowledge and wisdom and insights. That can happen anytime. Jesus demonstrated this in his ministry, kind of on the road as he went with the disciple. Nevertheless, it is constantly tuning our minds and our hearts to the spirit, to slow ourselves down enough to make room for the Spirit to speak. That’s hard when you have the sense of, I might get a call, I might get a text, got to answer it right now. That tearing in of the urgent is very corrosive to depth of life, to assist in spirituality that is so necessary if we are going to go the distance in the ministry.

There are many distances where Jesus literally pulled away from the crowd to kind of recharge his battery to reconnect with his father, to clarify his calling. With our mobile phones, with our smartphones we are actually constantly connected to the crowd. The crowd is always there before us. How do you take a break from the crowd. Uhm, there is wisdom sometimes to be found in the crowd but there is also a lot of chaos, a lot of dis-information that is also been passed through this network. How do we discern what is true and good and beautiful amidst all the clamor and all the chatter that is happening online.

How Dr Detweiler got to this way of living from God center

He tried to look at the phone companies that tend to dominate our digital life. He studied Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook and just thought about the claims that they are making upon our life. E.g., with someone like Google, it would be in the sense you are what you seek. If I want to deal with God then I had to think that we are who we are in him, you are whose you are. He also went back to scripture. God isn’t anti-technology We see that with Adam and Eve. It is God’s given gift but when we assign power or primacy to the technology then he feels we’ve displaced God in that center of our world and sort of put technology at the center of our world rather than God.

The aspect of idolatry is embedeed in the title of the book, iGods. To what degree technology has become an idol? Basically, when we order our day around technology, when it is sort of the first thing that we checked in the morning and the last thing that we checked in the night, then we are kind of undercutting the whole notion of praying the hours as monks and nuns have across the centuries. They created technology like bells to know when they work and when they pray. We are kind of always working, kind of always on and we rarely pause. Can we turn those cellphone off or create prompts on those cellphones that help us to put them down long enough to pause and to pray and to recharge and connect with the God?

Advice on living from God’s center in the light of the technology with which we are surrounded

technologyThe notion of 24-hour Sabbath is a rhythm that was set forth in the bible. The idea of powering down in order to power up with God is something that all of us need to take seriously as we depend more and more upon these devices to order our private and our public lives. So how do we retake that power? I think by turning off just long enough to re-center ourselves. It could be for an evening, for a meal, it could be for a whole day. It might even be for the whole weekend once in month. Even the next generation—a chance to disconnect from their phones as a way to reconnect with God.

Not everything needs to be responded to in the moment. Let’s just step out a little bit and allow the spirit to lead and to guide and to give us wisdom on how to proceed and how to prioritize. Not to respond to whatever is the loudest or the fastest or to most frequent. Hopefully we will learn to be a little bit slower, quieter, gentler and deeper in our response to culturing prompts.

Recommended Resources

iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives by Craig Detweiler
Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E Hummel
“Tyranny of the Urgent” – Excerpt
Books by Andy Crouch
Books by Kara Powell

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Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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