Dear Church Family,

Ask any fish to describe the effect that water has on him and he’ll respond, “What water?” Ask any of your neighbors to describe the effect that technological media has on him and he’ll probably respond the same way, “What technological media?” Of course, this is only true if you can get him to first put down his cellphone – or if you can put down yours!

Like the fish that takes for granted the water that it swims in, most of us have become so accustomed to an environment dominated by digital media that we fail to recognize how it affects us. Focusing on the content of what we take in, we don’t recognize how it’s form (the media technology of our computers and smartphones) influences the way we think and act – as individuals and as a society.

In the New York Times bestseller, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr writes:

Although even the initial users of the technology can often sense the changes in their patterns of attention, cognition, and memory as their brains adapt to the new medium, the most profound shifts play out more slowly, over several generations, as the technology becomes ever more embedded in work, leisure, and education – in all the norms and practices that define a society and its culture. How is the way we read changing? How is the way we write changing? How is the way we think changing? Those are the questions we should be asking, both of ourselves and of our children. (pp 199-200)

 

For Christians who seek to be a people of the word (Luke 1:2; 1 Peter 1:2-3), it is especially important that we ask these questions. We live in an age of distraction and a media-saturated culture that is dominated by the ubiquity of the moving image, immediate gratification, instant communication, and an obsession with the trivial. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for believers to find ways to “unplug” and to pursue sustainable habits of discipleship – as individuals and in our communities.

If you’re a fish, I encourage you to get back in the water so that you can get back to being a fish. If you’re a human being, I encourage you to get out of the technological-media-saturated water that you’re swimming in – at least briefly – so that you can get back to being human.

To help Christians to be better disciples of Jesus Christ (and to help human beings be more human!), on February 23-24, Providence Presbyterian Church will host a free conference entitled, “Christian Discipleship in a Media-Saturated Culture.” Dr. T. David Gordon, an ordained minister, professor of religion and Greek at Grove City College, and a leader in the field of media-ecology, will present a series of lectures on: the history of technology, the benefits and problems of new forms of communication, how digital technology affects the human brain, and the importance of pursuing solitude.

This conference begins at 7:00 pm on Friday, February 23rd and will run through Saturday morning, concluding at noon on February 24th. It will be held in the fellowship hall of Providence Presbyterian Church, 2900 Princeton Ave. More detailed information is available online: http://providencemidland.org/mrtc2018. This information is also available on the website, but here is a list of the specific times and topics for the conference:

Friday, February 23, 2018

7:00 pm - Lecture 1: Theological Introduction and Historical Survey: Six Moments from Socrates to Facebook

8:00 pm - Lecture 2: We Make Media and Media Make Us: The Reciprocal/Dialogical Relationship Between Humans and Their Tools (including their tools of communication)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

9:00 am - Lecture 3: Digital Media and Attention: How distracting digital media disrupt human attention

10:00 am - Lecture 4: Digital Media, Solitude, and Society: Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, and how the digital world suits us neither for solitude nor society

11:00 am - Q&A

This fourth annual theological conference, hosted by Providence Presbyterian Church, is a continuing effort to bring sound, biblical, and Reformed teaching to west Texas that’s relevant to the Christian life. Providence Presbyterian Church is a confessional and Reformed church, and part of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) which seeks to be “Faithful to the Scriptures, True to the Reformed Faith, and Obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.”

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch