This past weekend I was able to present a workshop called “Effects of Living in the Internet Age” at the Gracepoint Berkeley College Winter Retreat. It’s a 2.0 version and release of the workshop originally called “Digital Citizens of the 21st Century,” which was an amorphous though vaguely intriguing title.
In it I recommended a couple of books, so I wanted to highlight them.
Out of the Depths: Restoring Fellowship With God by Martyn Lloyd-Jones is a must read. It is short, but every sentence is golden. I tried highlighting and annotating while reading this book, and ended up coloring it. He uses Psalm 51 as a framework for outlining the very foundations of repentance, and what it means to relate to God. This is the book where the “fight for your soul” quote from my workshop and from Suzanne’s workshop on reflection comes from. I usually read this books once a year or so. It is always clarifying and centering, bringing me back to the very basic truths of the gospel, and the implications of professing to be a Christian.
Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life by Henri Nouwen is another short book that is full of gems of wisdom. Nouwen accurate insights on the very noisy lives we live – both the outer distractions of modern life as well as the inner distractions of our souls – make his invitation to cultivate the discipline of solitude all the more compelling. This is another book I come to again and again, especially as our lives only get busier and busier. If you can remove yourself from distractions (!) you can read this book in one sitting. It always jumps starts a prayer retreat or extended period of reflection over my life and in God’s word. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it, or if you haven’t read it in a while.
Love Your God With All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland is a more challenging a read than the previous two books. While Moreland is a philosopher, and this book focuses on the role of reason in our relationship with God, it is surprisingly more devotional than you might first presume! He challenges us to use the minds God gave us not only for the purposes of evangelism and apologetics, but in our worship and devotion as well. He challenges us to be people who can think critically and deeply in all areas of our lives.
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr is an engaging book and digestible book I recommend to people interested in starting to read about this topic. There are many out there, but I think this one is pretty even-handed in its presentation of the pros and cons of the Internet as a technology. What I appreciate about this book is that presents a history of our interactions with and adaptations to various technologies. At each juncture of history there was an outcry, and there were pros and cons — when we moved from an oral culture to a written one, when we went from the scroll to the codex, typewriter to desktop publishing, and so on. Full disclosure: I like Carr because he is much warier of the Internet than many others in his field. 🙂
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle, is the most recent of the books I’m recommending today. It is Turkle’s latest book, published in 2015, and currently my favorite of the books she has been writing in this field since…1981! Turkle analyzes the very conflicted relationship we have with all of our technologies, which enable us to connect, but also distance ourselves from each other, and from ourselves. She stresses the importance of being able to be alone and reflective about oneself (using Thoreau’s metaphor of the chairs…hence the cover image), before you can invite someone else into a dialogue, and then involve others in society. It’s a beautiful, chilling, and thought-provoking book that will cause you to rethink the way you interact with your phone, and with other people. Don’t read it if you don’t want to be disturbed and compelled to change some things. No joke!
Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? Do you have any thoughts to share, or other books to recommend?