Digital Liturgies

up: Books

Kindle highlights

What if the reality we need to face is not so much about how we overuse and overlove a valuable tool, but about what happens when a tool is no longer just a tool? Page: 3

Robert Bellah defines expressive individualism this way: “Expressive individualism holds that each person has a unique core of feeling and intuition that should unfold or be expressed if individuality is to be realized.” Page: 5

the key to their happiness, fulfillment, and quest for meaning in life is to arrange things so that their inner desires and ambitions can be totally achieved. Page: 5

Christian wisdom is about living a life that responds correctly to reality. Page: 20

The Fear of the Lord Is Wisdom, theologian Tremper Longman III describes biblical wisdom as containing three essential levels: the skill of living (practical), becoming a good person (ethical), and fearing God (theological). Page: 20

Holistic wisdom looks at reality and sees its author, majestic and sovereign and worthy of loyalty. Page: 23

a wise life is lived with, not against, the grain of reality that God has created. Page: 23

The first experience of shame in the history of the world was between Adam and Eve and their own bodies. Page: 28

By “good givenness” I mean the sheer reality that we exist in an embodied state and cannot do otherwise. Page: 28

“fearfully and wonderfully made” Page: 28

Therefore, true wisdom requires us to live within and accept our physical embodiment. Page: 29

nature of online presence itself powerfully reinforces the sense that we are not our bodies, that we have total control over our identity and our story, Page: 31

The doctrine of common grace prevents us from seeing human beings as simply the sum total of their worldview. Even parents who are evil can give good things to their children (Luke 11:13). Page: 44

If so, then when we look closely at the most important digital technologies of our time—especially the internet—we should expect to see traces of this posthuman vision. Page: 44

In other words, the mall is an epistemological (and moral) habitat. It is an environment where buying more stuff becomes more plausible, where the idea that happiness is a purchase away seems easy to believe and easy to act on. Page: 57

answer a big question at the heart of this book, namely: How are the heart-shaping effects of the web meaningfully different from the heart-shaping effects of other things? Page: 61

It is becoming the foundational medium, the superstructure of nearly every other experience. Page: 62

Second, part of what it means to be an embodied human is to be responsive in body and mind to the material world. We are shapable beings whose culture, habits, and worldviews form us into particular kinds of people. Page: 65

the internet is an especially powerful technology for creating these new patterns of belief and behavior in us. This is not merely an issue of the kinds of things we find online; it’s an issue of the form of the internet itself. Page: 66

could not do for contemporary people the most essential thing to bring about the gender revolution: separate the sense of self from the realm of objective reality. Page: 83

The confusion of transgenderism, thus, is really a symptom of a more general confusion about who we are. The logic of gender reassignment is organic to the logic of the internet’s self-creation and self-curation. Page: 84

The pornographic shape of the web is the best and simplest explanation. Page: 141

Note:Because it is consumption-based, giving power to the user. But what about online creating?

Part of it is surely a moral abrogation of duty on the part of tech companies to resist profiting by objectification. But it is also the web itself at work: Page: 142

Note:There is no “web itself”. All of the web is shaped by humans.

the web is ambient (meaning that it’s in our pockets all the time rather than on a TV or movie screen that we have to seek out in order to experience), Page: 158

Instead of delving deep into self-analysis and introspection to determine what we want our identity to be, we can receive an identity based on physical realities that are objectively true of us. Page: 160

convince you of two truths. First, the Bible lays out the wisdom we need to live faithfully and fruitfully before our Creator. Second, the internet is an epistemological and moral habitat that makes such wisdom seem like foolishness. Page: 166

Consider subscribing to a physical magazine or newspaper to cultivate the kind of deep reading that computers subvert. Page: 172

Note:This is personal responsibility hiding the missing structural societal political change. Instead of dealing with it personally, how do we redeem the internet as creators, citizens, believers?

Generally speaking, the more our attention is diffused over a thousand minute things—which is how our attention works when we’re deeply plugged into the web—the more scrambled and exhausted we will be. Page: 173

Note: Better one hour of a movie than twenty small distractions. Connects to time blocking and chunking.

(Prov. 9:1–6) Page: 179

It is not the already proficient that wisdom calls, but the “simple,” the one who “lacks sense.” Page: 179

This isn’t just truthful thinking or clever living. This is grace. Page: 179

Self-help is downstream of grace

Summary / Reflection

I appreciated the nuance that the form of the internet itself provides unique temptations, regardless of the content. The idea that the form of technology shapes society and individuals, regardless of the use is interesting. For example how clocks created the value of punctuality, or books creating “typographical thinking”.

I also appreciated how he formulated the idea of good giveness or embodiement, the fact that God created us that physical bodies and that this is good. The author then laid out how “the Internet” is a unique temptation for us to escape our physicality. It’s good to be aware of the allure of the internet to escape/transcend our limits.

But I felt similar to Webster in that parts of the book don’t really correspond to my experience of the internet. The chapters of shaming and outrage aren’t anything I experience in my corner of the internet. This is where his point starts to get a bit dilluted. Yes, the digital nature of the internet means that it is disembodied, non-good giveness space. That is inherent to the current form of the internet. But outrage and shame culture are specific to certain technologies and companies, based (as he points out) on algorithms. It’s not inherent to the internet. So he start by speaking broadly about the form of all of the internet, but then only picks a few tools where he extrapolates the “nature” of the internet from.

The blending together of various services and companies also makes for a conclusion that misses a perspective. Yes, personal responsibility how we engage those tools matters, and I go away from this book with a greater caution towards the allure of the digital. But now that the cat is out of the bag, what do we do with this? The buck can’t stop at person responsibility, but we need to engage with “the internet” systemically, politically, Biblical Worldview-y. How can we redeem it’s areas as citizens and believers?

In conclusion, this book presented a bunch of insightful ideas, but I wish it would have taken the step further to point us prophetically towards redeeming this digital tool.

After book club discussion: The first part is great. The second part and conclusion is diluted in its points.