As a self confessed gadget-freak and techno-taster I approached this book with huge digital multi-layered delight. Watson vividly explores how the digital era is affecting minds, changing behavior and ultimately, shaping the future.
I had already heard of the author through his work with the trend report What’s Next?, and so was expecting good things. I was not disappointed. The rise of the screenager, connectivity addiction, multi-tasking mayhem, the threat to creative thinking, electronic euphoria, ambient intimacy….are amongst some of the fascinating subjects covered and brilliantly treated with insight and interest. Each topic is laced with examples and questions and particularly provoking is his coverage of the effects of the digital age upon our ability to think deeply and initiate creative free play. In a world where the search engine is Queen (and will soon know us better than we know ourselves), where information constantly flows at us and where digital gratification is instant and relentless, what is there left for us to do or initiate? And, is more always better? In a culture of ‘rapid response, we are so continually available that we have left ourselves no time to think properly about what we are doing’.
There was so much in this book to inspire and caution me but I want to highlight a few associated thoughts in relation to worship. As a worship co-ordinator I spend a lot of time leading a musical expression of worship…resourcing and facilitating creative space for seekers to dwell in the presence of God, imbibe the spirit, deepen faith, gaze upon God, be transformed, engage with life.. and as I read some of Watson’s observations, I realized again how the digital age is challenging and diluting some of the precious jewels of our worship environments. Let me look at 3 aspects…
1. Shallow Thinking
Because we live on hyper-activity mode, our thinking has become more shallow and divergent. A worship encounter requires a deep and at times, contemplative pattern of attentiveness rather than a drive-through, log on/log off approach. Are we able individually to be intentional about taking time to think deeply with Christ and are we able to help create an environment for a collective deep engagement with God when the mass default thought pattern is shallow and fast?
2. Rapid Response
Web culture is fast, fragmented and NOW. How can we become disciples of Christ who are able to wait and be persistent and patient and not simply expect rapid responses? Maybe we give up or move on too quickly?
3. Screenagers want instant digital gratification
There is a consumer mentality approach that we can easily take into our relationship with God…so that God is like a drinks machine…we press a button (sing a song) and out pops the can!! (emotional receiving)
How can we develop a culture that is content in the waiting zone, like the Psalmist – HOW LOVELY IS YOUR DWELLING PLACE – even when no apparent instant reward is in sight….!!
The cultural identifiers that Watson highlights are vital when we think about developing a culture of God-seekers….journey takers not hot-spot tourists!
SO.. have we noticed any of these effects? Maybe we have identified a short attention span during prayer or meditation, or the inability to journey into the depths of an encounter with God? Maybe it’s the ‘what’s next’ words that transmit invisibly, but oh so loudly, from the congregation every 3 minutes? IF we believe that dwelling and abiding in the presence of God is important and IF we are sincere about nurturing focus and deepening the journey….how can we learn personally to do this despite our digitally-carved behavior and how do we encourage others to spend quality time searching the heart of God above Google?
Those are just a nano shuffle of thoughts that struck during reading this excellent book…but OVER TO YOU..Does any of this resonate? And how can we contend for the precious jewels of a deep worship encounter? …..individually or together!
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