Tag Archives: technology

Know-It-All Know-Nothings

In Chapter 2 of his new book The Next Story, Tim Challies writes about the changes wrought by the invention of the telegraph:

Gone was the idea of news as “functional information”. Very quickly arose the notion of news as entertainment. Instead of newspapers filled with in-depth analyses of local affairs, consumers demanded papers filled with interesting but irrelevant snippets of information, often from faraway places. “News from nowhere, addressed to no one in particular” gave people much to talk about but little to act on. It entertained and outraged, but demanded no response, no action. Neil Postman writes about the great loop of impotence this created: “The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.” People knew lots of facts, but had intimate knowledge of very little. Their knowledge about the world far surpassed their knowledge of the world.

Let us, as Christians, diligently guard against becoming mere know-it-all know-nothings. In both worldly and spiritual affairs, our goal should not be to gather vast amounts of trivia: an entire reservoir of trivial information is not worth an ounce of real, genuine thought – the kind of thought that produces action.

Shallow thinking will never take you anyplace worth going.

In the words of John Piper, “You don’t need to know a lot of things for your life to make a difference; but you do need to know a few great things, and you need to live for them with all your might.”

(This topic reminds me of yet another quote, this time from Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi classic Fahrenheit 451. Read it here.)

Cyber War

There have been numerous articles written about how the internet has reshaped the way we interact with people. A recent article in Christianity Today noted that,

…the invention of social media, like blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, created a radical departure in communication. In pre-2004 Christianity (that is, Christianity before Facebook was invented), only a small group of Christian leaders and teachers had access to the printing press—but today everyone has WordPress. In pre-2004 Christianity it was difficult to become a published author, but today everyone is surrounded by dozens of “Publish” buttons.

Blogging is not an occupation to be taken lightly. You are in a position of leadership. Your thoughts, your beliefs, are available to the entire cyber world at the click of a button. And because of this “instant access” capability, it’s very easy lose sight of the responsibility to weigh our words. Instead of carefully considering what we’re going to say before we say it, we just sizzle and pop like cheap Chinese firecrackers.

“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more
hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)

These days, its a popular pastime to hop over to a prominent blog (say Challies or Veith), read the latest controversial post, and then throw oneself heart and soul into the vicious bar fight going on in the comments section. Put on your boxing gloves and angry eyebrows, ’cause it’s gonna get really ugly, really fast.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but
the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

Now, don’t misunderstand me: I’m all for respectful, reasoned debate. And I’ve been privy to several comment-thread discussions that have been a real pleasure to read and participate in. But too often, what I see is not respectful, reasoned debate: it’s all out war. The participants aren’t concerned with engaging in a thoughtful discussion. They’re more concerned with humiliating, wounding, and retaliating against their brothers in Christ.

Whatever happened to Ephesians 4:15? “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

When we catch sight of something in the blogosphere that we disagree with – whether it’s a post or a comment on that post – we don’t need to act as if the world is going to end if we don’t immediately respond. In fact, oftentimes the best thing to do is to just walk away: don’t respond at all. Resist that urge to pick a fight. In those cases where a response is in order, do so thoughtfully, firmly, and lovingly, in a manner consistent with the character of Him Whom you serve. Christians shouldn’t look at a debate as an opportunity to beat each other up. They should view it as an opportunity to teach, an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to quicken each other’s beliefs and convictions. Measure your words, for “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21)

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps
himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)