Skip to main content

BookTuesday: The Next Story

BookTuesday this week features a book received from Zondervan Publishers by the Internet-famous (at least in some circles) Tim Challies. It’s Challies’ book about life and faith after the digital explosion entitled The Next Story. You should know that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for the review, although I’d likely have bought it anyway.

Here’s what it looks like:

The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion

I have had difficulty getting this review written for Tim Challies’ book, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. Why? Well, my Blackberry has been buzzing, I’ve got a few comment streams on blogs to keep up with, and then there’s the podcasts to listen to in the process. Plus, since I’m paying for unlimited Netflix streaming, I’ve got to have a movie going in the background.

Now, if that sounds nothing like any moment you’ve ever had, then you could probably skip this particular book for a few months. If you’re decently in control of your technology use, you can wait a little while too.

What is Challies up to with this book? Why should you read it? Is it ironic that this book is available for Kindle and other e-readers? Is it wrong that a man who became famous blogging and made his living doing web design to write about how we should view technology?

Let’s answer those questions:

1. Tim Challies is presenting recommendations of how to utilize technology without being dominated by it. The primary perspective that he holds is a Protestant/Reformed Christianity, so be prepared to see references to God, Jesus Christ as Lord, and the Bible as authority. If you hold the same beliefs, that’s not a problem, but if you don’t, you might bog down a bit. There’s still valuable information for you, but some of this just won’t make sense to you.

Challies is striking at two targets in this book. The first is the “technology is evil” target. In the early chapters of the book, he addresses what is good and useful in technology. The second is the “I want every thing beeping at all times” target. This target receives the bulk of the words here.

A large portion of the method here is to raise awareness of the issues underlying the technology we use. He is not trying to state that we ought to all use cell phones or ought to avoid them, nor even whether you should answer your phone during church. Rather, he wants the reader to ask this question: “How is carrying a cell phone at all times changing the way I think about life?” Then, address the question of when you should or should not answer the phone.

2. I’m going out on a limb and saying that you should read this book. Even if you are one of the aforementioned non-technology people, you should read this book. First of all, you cannot escape the technology. Even the Amish occasionally use the telephone: you cannot escape it. The Next Story will help you build a moral and theological grid about how to use the technology.

If you’re addicted to your iPhone, iPad, and MacBook or the various other devices, you need to read this book. It will help you think about what is happening in the world around you and the mindset within you because of these devices. You may choose to continue your prior behavior, but you will at least know what you’re getting into at that point.

3. It’s less ironic that you can read this on a Kindle than on an iPad. A Kindle’s at least a uni-tasker (as Alton Brown would describe single-use tools), so you don’t develop the mental-fragmenting from it. However, it is kind of funny to think of losing ourselves to technology and reading about it on a technological device. It supports the idea of the book: these advances are here to stay---so what are you going to do about it? Gutenberg perhaps had detractors that preferred calligraphy: but who has read a hand-copied book lately? (Ph.D. nerds excluded.)

4. If we exclude people who have used technology from writing books, we’ll never learn anything. Actually, Challies has a good blend of work in publishing, web design, ministry, and internet interaction that provides a good viewpoint to this book.

This book helps put together a viewpoint that helps us not fear the coming technology. It is also not a wide-ranging futuristic view, addressing deeply artificial intelligence or raising fears of SkyNet and Terminators, but rather a book that says: this is what is now. This is what is most likely for the next several years. Now, what are you going to do with it?

Worth the purchase.

Doug

Free book provided by Zondervan in exchange for the review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Abraham Lincoln Quoted by Jesus! Mark 3

Mark records a curious event in his third chapter (link). If you look at Mark 3:25, you'll see that Jesus quotes the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. After all, one of the highlights of the Lincoln years is his famous speech regarding slavery in the United States where he used the phrase that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." This speech was given in 1858 when he accepted the nomination to run against Stephen A. Douglas for Senate, but is still remembered as the defining speech regarding slaveholding in the United States. I recall being taught in school how brilliant and groundbreaking the speech was, how Lincoln had used such wise words to convey his thought. Yet the idea was not original to Lincoln. Rather, it was embedded in Lincoln from his time reading the Bible. Now, I have read varying reports about Lincoln's personal religious beliefs: some place him as a nearly completely committed Christian while others have him somewh…

Independence Day 2017

I don’t know if Thomas Paine will be aggrieved that I paste his thoughts from Common Sense here, from the electronic edition. It’s a Public Domain work at this point, so hopefully none will be bothered that I am not paying for it...I think there is value in seeing the underlying reasons of Independence. I find a couple of things noteworthy in his introduction:First, he speaks of those who disagree and, while calling those out, holds the strength of his affirmative argument will be enough to straighten them out. We could do well to think more like that.Second, his final sentence should be a required view: the influence of reason and principle. Not self-interest masquerading as principle. Not party propaganda disguised as reason.That being said, not everything Paine said is right. If he and I lived at the same time, we’d argue religion over a great deal. However, the idea of “natural rights of man” follows from the idea of humanity as a special creation—that all are created equal and en…