Sunday, July 14, 2013

When Fact and Fiction cross

Recently, I finished reading From the Garden to the City by John Dyer and I am currently reading Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry and the two crossed as I was finishing the first and halfway through the second. The great thing about fiction is that it has a great way of embodying truth. (There are things that I am finding out about fiction that I knew in the experience of being moved and challenged by fiction but I just did not know how to articulate it. That is a matter for another post.)

John said in his book,

"It is my hope that the biblical and philosophical tools presented in this book will help us become better stewards of the technological tools God has entrusted to us, as we seek to live lives that honor him and the work of his Son."
Dyer, John (2011-07-14). From the Garden to the City (Kindle Locations 3131-3133). Kregel Publications. Kindle Edition. 
In his book, John gives us the bigger picture of technology, not just the "smart phones" "tablets" and "clouds" of today but going back to the basic tools used in the garden like a shovel. The things that we as humans create as tools to aid us in life since the beginning of mankind can be categorized as technology when we are will to look at the broader definition. John puts it this way, “the human activity of using tools to transform God’s creation for practical purposes.”

When I got to chapter 16 in Jayber Crow, I recognized something that we ought to stop and contemplate. We are a society of consumers. Christians are called to count the cost. It is difficult to block out the noise of our society. Every day we are presented with choices. Here in our western free society, we love the fact that we have so many choices. In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 30 the LORD says, "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.....Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days," (v. 15, 19, & 20) and in Matthew from the Sermon on the Mount the LORD Jesus talks about how we ought not to lay up treasures here on earth and that we cannot serve two masters and in the middle of that HE says this, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, if then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matt 6:22, 23)

I have been spending time in the Sermon on the Mount and these two verses have been puzzling to me and now I think that I have a clue. Could this be about discernment? If I can not see what is before me and take time to think about what I am doing and as some say "just go ahead blindly" then I am in great darkness. Even here Jesus lays out for us choices. I do NOT believe Jesus is saying that we need to be destitute and can't have our stuff but that we need to have our priorities in the right place.

Now we have arrived at the crossroads.

"Technology, then, is the means by which we transform the world as it is into the world that we desire. What we often fail to notice is that it is not only the world that gets transformed by technology. We, too, are transformed."

Dyer, John (2011-07-14). From the Garden to the City (Kindle Locations 548-550). Kregel Publications. Kindle Edition.

In Wendell Berry's book Jayber Crow purchases an automobile. If we can look at the automobile as a recent technology in the rural setting of Kentucky, the chapter describes how this purchase effects Jayber economically, socially, physically and mentally. (quite possibly spiritually but that is not touched upon in the chapter)
"In Port William after the war the idea that you could "jump in a car" and drive to Hargrave in only a few minutes was still fairly new. The time had been, and not long back, when people in Port William who wanted to go to Hargrave would walk down to Dawes Landing and take the boat."
"What I really got the car for was to participate in the night-time social life of Hargrave. I was already participating, but I was getting tired of riding down there on the running boards of cars and in the back ends of trucks, and then maybe having to walk home. And so I squandered some of my savings and some of my wages in the interests of living life more fully and abundantly."
"To be plain about it, I was lonesome. I wanted the company of women." 

I believe in the wonder and reflections of our Creator in the things we create - including both our historical and modern technology. I am just added my voice to the small choir that is telling the church to be wise, do not embrace every latest advancement without thinking and counting the cost and do not despise the ones who have created new and wonderful things or the things themselves. Let us discern, let us pay attention, let us choose wisely in a way that will bring glory to our Creator.

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