by Craig Detweiler
NOTE: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Christians are called to be sober-minded and intentional. The Bible’s writers exhort us to put aside childish ways of thinking and “old practices” of immorality and apathy in pursuit of a life that brings glory to God through all facets of our being—heart, soul, and mind. This is a high calling, to be sure; but for the Christian who desires Christ’s honor and the Lord’s will above all else, the challenge is welcome.
As are works and books that aid us along our path.
iGods by Craig Detweiler is one such tool. Part philosophical tome, part historical narrative, the book outlines concerns for the mindful person in the digital age, cautioning the reader against pure consumerism regarding the behemoths of the online landscape. This is a warning worth our attention, for the perceived demands of online media (like the very blog your reading, likely linked through a social networking site) tend to be making us less engaged but more entertained, living lives of increased information but diminished experience.
Because of the cultural context in which we find ourselves, iGods will prove a valuable conversation starter for any reader, particularly those who take an holistic approach to life, whether they are experiencing the digital sphere or reality.
And make no mistake, there is a difference; Detweiler points us to it and comments on how the former affects the latter, how both can be integrated, and why this is important. This is not light reading for one’s five-minute daily devotional; this is a “heady” book (some might call it a “thinking book”). Detweiler is not interested in simple practices or black and white solutions, he desires to navigate the grey (and do so well, despite prevailing attitudes or assumptions).
Even as Detweiler tackles the “worship” of technology itself as well as our implicit “faith” in the various sites to which we give so much attention and time, his tone is never terse, judgmental, or rigid. Rather, the author communicates the need for constant adaptability and grace, as if he knows that the practices he encourages will continue to change by necessity given the ever-shifting sea of devices and sites that claim our time, energy, and attention.
Dense philosophical musings bookend the work, and a wealth of topics receive useful attention between them. Every chapter, from the rise of Amazon to the programming of YouTube, is well-written and thoroughly engaging. It’s the type of book that makes one pause and think, “huh, I had not considered that” or “oh, I definitely act that way online (much to my shame)”, and so forth.
For the non-Christian, iGods serves as a vivid and accessible picture of the current digital landscape, and eventually the book will mark itself as a time capsule of the considerations wrought as a result of emerging “mobiquity” (“Mobile/ubiquity”; not mine, it’s in the book). For the Christian reader, however, the book offers more, for it rebuffs the generally accepted notions of online cultural conduct. Whereas the sites in question tell us to treat ourselves, post our thoughts, or build our platform, iGods suggests that the Christian may need to deny him/herself, share Biblical encouragement, and serve others’ interests. Of course, this are just a few rest stop the book visits along its tour of the information superhighway (if we are even calling it that anymore).
iGods is not for all readers, but I would highly recommend it for some. Indeed, it’s the type of work that proves that Biblical Christian thought is ever-relevant and applicable despite the endless change that happens around it. And we need those kinds of works.
iGods is available at Amazon.com and other booksellers.