Book Review – Twelve Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

Technology changes things. It changes people. It changes us. Books can also have that effect. Tony Reinke’s book serves up a wonderful 12 course meal for us that is educational, insightful, wise, and quite frank. Evangelical leaders, we need to read this book, together, and begin to formulate, together, a deeply wise approach to good and healthy use of “online technology” within the context of Christian life and fellowship.

Reinke describes how real-world landmarks of life like time, locale, friends, and interests are shifting or vanishing as the tsunami wave of online culture makes landfall, scouring our personal landscape clean. Our people are standing in a field watching cute cat videos on their smart-phones as the wave washes over them. Can we, together, grasp an anchor that will hold, enter an ark that will not sink, cling to a cross that will not fail, live for a Savior who will not forget; and in so doing help people learn to live transparently, intentionally giving themselves to one another in friendship and love instead of in selfies and likes?

Reinke offers several principles for diagnosing your use of technology; good and bad, healthy and dangerous. These principles will endure far beyond any specific software that is mentioned. Facebook will eventually go the way of the once absolutely necessary phrase – “IBM Compatible PC”. The principles will remain relevant, useful, and applicable long after Facebook has killed the book and simply become Face (or more likely Me).

Reinke is no knee-jerk Luddite alarmist. He is an active user of technology and writes from that experienced viewpoint. He stays balanced throughout, raising challenges of technology sabbaticals and regular evaluation of your use of tech (including asking those around you), as well as the incredibly radical suggestion that you put the phone down during family meals to enable you to focus on and delight in your loved ones face to face.

One extended quote to give you a feel for the passion and insight contained:
“We cannot continually chase the lure of public praise and affirmation by self-replication. Such a desire will kill us spiritually, and Paul signaled why. In God’s economy, approval is something we must wait for. Those who feed on little nibbles of immediate approval from man will eternally starve. But those who aim their entire lives toward the glory and approval of God will find, in Christ, eternal approval. The stakes are that high.” p.77

I recommend this book to any and all who are interested, and to all Evangelical leaders regardless of interest. The algorithms of online addiction are real. They are at work within your congregation. We must respond, together, dear brothers and sisters with a robust Christian worldview.

Please, let’s go for pie and coffee and talk it over.

Dave Sherrill

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