Posts made in August, 2014

In God’s Image : Author and Professor : Craig Detweiler

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in In God's Image Interview Series, Interviews

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of recommending iGods, a book that explores the history of some of our modern ubiquitous technology as well as its affect on our lives. The book’s author, Craig Detweiler, became head of Biola University’s Mass Communications department during my last year in the screenwriting program, and he continued to hold that position when I returned to the university as a staff member two years later (we have since both moved into new employment).

Though we never developed a relationship while we were both on the same campus, Craig always seemed approachable, and I always heard of his doing excellent work for the school. Given this Biola connection, I contacted him during Stronghold‘s release, and we have corresponded here and there since that time. Following my recommendation of iGods, I asked Craig to participate in 3LC’s ongoing “In God’s Image” series, and he took some time to share with thoughts on his work, his goals, and his faith.

1. Define yourself in one word (Disciple, Christian, American, Man, etc.)

Human

 

2. Why do you choose that term?

My goal is be fully human (since only Jesus was also fully divine).  If I can live into my humanity, then hopefully I will end up closer to who God’s created me to be.

 

3. In two sentences, tell us about your most recent book, iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives—what it is and for whom its intended.

iGods is an effort to push the pause button on our electronic devices long enough to think carefully about how they impact our everyday lives. It was written for every harried student, frustrated parent, and stressed out human struggling to keep up with all the texts, tweets, and updates that barrage us.

 

4. What led to the writing of iGods? Was it a specific event or was it a more general decision based on the culture?

I was looking for a book that offered a theology of technology, that would help me figure out what digital discipleship might look like.   At the end of my search, I decided to craft my own response to Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

 

5. How has your writing and teaching required you to sacrifice?

You definitely lose a bit of sleep writing a book. I tend to write best when things are quiet in our home (between roughly 10pm and 2am).   And of course, my family also pays the price when my brain is thinking about the book rather than about them.   A book or a cell phone can easily become a distraction and even an idol.

 

6. What is your primary goal as an educator? What about as an author?

I love how Jesus ended so many of his stories by addressing them to people with eyes to see and ears to hear.   My work as a filmmaker, teacher, and author aims to awaken the senses and broaden hearts and minds.

 

7. What is your largest hope for those you teach? What about for your readers?

I try to give them permission to become the people God created them to be. They often just need a little encouragement to love the things they’re already passionate about and pursue the dreams that they’ve held themselves back from pursuing.   As a writer and teacher and filmmaker, I try to create the things I wish I’d heard or seen.

 

8. What are two key ways in which you believe iGods can benefit readers today?

I’m trying to offer a bit of perspective, to get us thinking about how code might be preconditioning us to act in way we hadn’t realized.   For example, when Facebook encourages us to ‘update status’, aren’t we subconsciously upgrading our status—creating posts that make us look or sound better?   And when Twitter invites us to attract followers, aren’t we actually turning our friends into our audience?   In both cases, we are becoming performers, playing to a crowd. Such outer-directed behavior may push us away from the God-directed callings we’re meant to pursue.

 

9. How have you seen God’s goodness and faithfulness in your work with your current students at Pepperdine University? How about with your books?

As a college professor, I’ve seen how technology has accelerated anxiety and undercut students’ sense of rest.   So I’ve tried to respond with a theology rooted in my current students’ context.   What are their questions and what do they need? The response to iGods has been so much wider and far more enthusiastic than I expected. Evidently, the book really connects with challenges that people are grappling with. I even won an award from indie publishers as one of the best books on pop culture this year!   iGods may not stand the test of time, but it is certainly timely today.

 

10. How can readers learn more about you and your work?

Just because I question social media, doesn’t mean that I’m not part of it every single day.   Look for me on Facebook or Twitter or blogging as “Doc Hollywood” for patheos.com.

 
 
 
 

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Just Crossed a Deadline, So I Am Back…sort of.

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Writer's Diary

Hi All,

Thanks for sticking with the blog despite my dereliction to post regularly this month. Truth be told, I have a fair amount of content in the pressure cooker, but I was on deadline to revise To Retreat From Romance by August 16, and that took the bulk of my writing time, effort, and energy the last few weeks. That being said, I have reviews, interviews, and articles on deck for the coming weeks. Please stick with me and check back!

Additionally, I don’t know about you, but the world has had a hold on my heart these last few weeks. ISIS, ISIL, ASL, Ferguson…the issues of our day are truly tragic. Frankly, it’s in days like these that I feel equal parts depressed and hopeful.

The pain of those in the situations must be horrific, and I am saddened by not only my inability to affect real change but my ineptitude at participating in the small change in which I can. These matters are complex, difficult, and tragic; and I wish I could do more. At the very least, I know that I should do more than stand on the sidelines and say nothing.

Thankfully, others with more compassion than me have been moved to action, and they’ve done powerful things. And I take solace in the fact that all of these hardships are part of a grander, larger narrative that God is integrating into a story of human redemption across time. I know that sounds cliche, but it has helped me through some of the harder moments of these current events. Sometimes I just need to hold onto that truth.

I hope this finds you well, and I look forward to posting some new pieces in the coming days.

Thanks again for stopping by my corner of the internet,
C

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Recommendation: Book of God by Kingstone Media

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Reviews & Recommendations

Book of God is my second review for Kingstone Media, whose comics, Jonah and Job, I recently recommended. I was provided a free e-book version of this graphic novel for the purpose of this article. 

If you know me personally, you know I have a few eclectic tastes–one of which is films that eschew standard narrative storytelling to provide a different viewing experience (Koyaaniquatsi and Slacker being the two best examples I can offer off the top of my head). Well, I would place Book of God in a similar vein.

The graphic novel is unlike any other I’ve encountered to date (though I’m hesitant to claim it’s the only one of its kind). It’s almost a docucomic–a seeming shot-for-shot storyboard outline for an interesting 4-part documentary series on Biblical historicity. And it works. The panel-to-panel movement creates an easy read, and the insert drawings of historical persons and events serve as perfect cutaways while narration continues.

Speaking of which, the narrator is an unexpected but welcome departure from the usual individual one might see in this type of thing–that of a silver-haired, white man in a gray suit. Rather, Book of God features a semi-casual but well-dressed African American who presents an avalanche of information without ever coming across as cliche, kitschy, or dull (not to say that an Anglo presenter would not work, but such a character would feel more obvious or assumed).

Inasmuch as I liked the look and feel of the narrator, I also loved the fact that he was both nameless and title-less (a choice I had used also for the protagonist of my novel, Stronghold). Doing this made the narrator truly feel like a sort of everyman or, at the very least, a layperson who could not only grasp and retain the information presented but also communicate it well. This is a subtle but powerful cue, because it informs the reader’s feelings that they too can understand and convey the book’s wealth of facts. We are not led to feel like the audience of a doctoral lecture but rather a presentation by a fellow student who is sharing with us some of what he has learned.

And make no mistake, Book of God teaches the reader a great deal. The presenter deftly covers dense information regarding the Bible’s contents, its development over the ages, and its reliability as a truthful and well-preserved collection of documents. This not only gives one an interesting history of the Bible but also a strong foundation on which to build an apologetic for its value.

These multiple virtues–the unexpected but relatable narrator, the wealth of information, and the application of it to form a baseline apologetic make Book of God not only a old graphic novel but a wildly ambitious one. The result is a great primer on Biblical historicity, particularly for the reader who would be unwilling to dive into a more exhaustive, scholarly tome.

I find Book of God more endearing the more I think about it; and it’s a book I’d recommend to anyone looking for a brief but informative look at the Bible and its path from ancient writings to modern collection. Beyond that, Book of God also explains why the Bible carries the weight and value that it does both as historical treasure and spiritual library. And that’s something worth sharing as well.

You can buy Book of God in both paper and ebook formats, directly from Kingstone or via the amazon link below:

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