February 20, 2009

Some Conclusions

Last night we got together for our Disputation. There was a good mix of folks, and, even though we all agreed that we are pretty new to the practice of sustained discussion about serious topics, we did all right. Rather than try to summarize everything that was said during the evening, I thought I would share with our readers some of the conclusions that emerged from the discussion.
1.Technology is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. For sure, there is a whole lot of it; not only that, but, nowadays, it comes at us pretty fast, and most of us are only familiar with the very basics of these devices that play such an increasingly big part in our lives. Nevertheless, we could all give lots of examples of the good things that recent technologies have enabled us to do.

2.However, we also agreed that there are many aspects of these technologies that bring out the worst in people. In the book, Bauerlein talked at length about how these technologies foster and support perpetual adolescence. But we also discussed the economic pressures that these technologies produce, and the other evils they suborn, such as gambling, pornography, and anonymity.

3. We spent a good deal of time considering what impact these technological and social dynamics will have on the Church. Everyone who participated in the discussion was Orthodox, and everyone expressed relief that the Church does not automatically embrace each new technological development and the social configurations that emerge from those developments. But many of the people present voiced concern over how the Church would be changed even when apparently benign technologies are adopted for apparently good motives.

4.While everyone agreed with Bauerlein's analysis in regards to our culture, no one was especially impressed with his solution—basically, he calls on older people to encourage younger people to interact with the larger culture and to find their identity within the greater traditions of our culture. However, as several of our disputants pointed out, that involves suffering—delayed gratification, hard work, and humility—and one of the main characteristics of adolescence is an aversion to any sort of suffering.

5.In spite of our pessimism about Bauerlein's solution, the overall tone of the disputation was positive. Just about everyone present agreed that we are being inundated by a wave of technology and that a good deal of the energy behind that wave is coming from what Holy Scripture calls 'the world'; eventually, that wave may, in fact, wash us away, but we all agreed that greater is He that is in us and in the Church than he that is in the world.

If you weren't able to participate in the discussion in person, then please join us on-line (and, yes, we are completely aware of the irony in that invitation; but, then, part of the joy of the Faith is embracing the absolute and irreducible absurdity of our life in this world). We would love to hear what you think about all these issues, and we would love to have you show up in person for our next disputation. Check the web-site calendar because we'll be posting the date there in the next few days. Or just wait until your spring issue of The Lamp Post arrives; we will be putting the finishing touches on that number in a week or so.

fr. aidan

No comments: