"Habits of the High-Tech Heart"
by Quentin Schultze
I commented on the powerful beginning to "Habits..." previously. Schultze delivers more prophetic slaps to our frantic lives as his book progresses.
The overall message of the book thrusts wisdom back upon our techno-Babel blinded worldview: Tradition, especially religious tradition, provides the foundation and framework for virtuous life, wisdom, purpose, direction, community, and moral relationships. More could be said here in summary of the book. Interestingly Schultze does not play technology off against tradition, as if to find the "better" of the two. Rather, he examines the moral vacuity of now traditional techno-visions of a utopian electronic world and shows how amidst all their blather, they really are deluded deluding false prophets. Instead of tossing baby and bathwater out onto the street, Schultze hints at the possibility of using technology wisely, building your life upon religious tradition (which I understand to mean the Bible and the God of the Bible, with His Christ, in life by the Spirit) so that the things of life, the affairs and to do lists that order our days, are filled with virtue and moral excellence. Here are a few quotes from later sections of the book:
"Living contemplatively is one way of regularly reminding oursevles that we are not God and that we will not become more intimate with God merely by tracking the latest information about God."
"If we are not careful, even prayer can become just another instrumental technology to employ when everyday modes of control do not work. Prayer slips into machine logic."
People, he says, "need more meaning, not more information."
I found the book very challenging. I know I need to change my habits, my valuations, and my time structure in light of the call of this book, a call back to the basics.
The book could be better. Chapters 1, 2, 7, and 8 capture the message of the book sufficiently. The four middle chapters move slowly and bogg the reader down. In addition, the Christian reader, the God-centered discerner, must insert in nearly every place "living virtuously" appears the phrase, "living for the glory of God." Schultze appears to be writing for a wider audience, but waters this down too much for me. He offers hope for those enslaved to informationalism, but the hope is itself vague.
Nonetheless, the message strikes true. Living for the glory of God cannot be equated with living as efficiently as possible, maximizing time. Redeem the time, God says. He does not say, maximize your efficiency. Redeeming the time may mean sitting and listening, holding a child's hand, writing a letter, meditating on scripture with an open-ended time frame.
I recommend the book to all who live immersed in e-mail cultures, computer snob, techno-savvy communities, or who find themselves drawn to the elusive "more" offered by all things techno.
(aside: I hope I have not communicated any sense of disdain for that musical genre known as techno, for which I have the highest respect as long as the artists therein root their musical industry in a virtuous and traditional bedrock both personally and as regards their discipline.)