It felt as impossible as unscrambling an egg, this separating my culture from my Christianity. I’m on a journey to find what is mandated in the Bible and what is mandated by tradition, for the second doesn’t hold the weight for me that the first does.
That may be why I found Flickering Pixels so interesting. Author Shane Hipps explores how the technology of our culture affects how we think. And that affects how we believe.
Until the invention of the printing press in 1440, people lived in largely an oral society. Most were not literate and, within the church, were dependent on the priest to read and interpret God’s word to them.
That fostered community, for information largely came in group settings. Societies were interconnected, talking to one another, depending on others.
The printing press changed society dramatically. When Gutenberg began a new industry – that of churning out books and pamphlets and newspapers – people learned to read. This didn’t happen instantly, of course, but in the over-500 years since the printing press was invented, cultures have been radically altered.
Information could be found individually. Not longer did we need to depend on a priest to give us God’s word: we could read it for ourselves. The age of the printing press encouraged independence, logic, analytical thinking – all skills gained from reading.
Today we are moving into a digital age where the internet, cell phones, and televisions are king.
Hipps shows us how those change us. We understand how sound bytes have altered elections. We have seen how visual images have reigned in marketing and campaigns.
Where once a person had to learn to read to gain information, one need only have access to a TV or radio today. Little skill is required.
As we march forward into the digital age, how will the internet affect our culture? Hipps commented that our knowledge is becoming a mile wide and an inch deep as we can surf sites, almost overwhelmed by the easy access to ideas, opinions, information.
Hipps does not advocate withdrawing to a cave in the Egyptian mountains in an attempt to avoid the digital culture. He suggests that Christians can understand how the new technology affects us.
God is the creator and master of communication. Texting and tweeting don’t throw him off track.
Hipps’ book is a fascinating read and an important one for Christians who want to engage our evolving culture. You’re reading this on a digital outlet – a blog – so find a copy of the book and see what Hipps has to say.