When I initially heard about Tim Challies' newest book, The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion, I had no desire to read it. That is saying something significant considering I am on his site almost every day. I found his first book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, to be an enjoyable and beneficial read, but a book focused on technology simply did not spark my interest. Interestingly enough, a colleague who did not know I was a fan of Challies.com recommended The Next Story to me, and after receiving a free audiobook and hardback, I am thankful to have listened to and read Mr. Challies' lastest work. The Next Story is far more than a book about technology. This is a book about using technology in a God-glorifying way and a history lesson of how we often have not done that.
Part one of The Next Story covers three chapters focusing on God's intended use of technology, the relationship between humans and technology, and a digital history. Part two covers six chapters and is more practical. The topics of communication, mediation/identity, distractions, information, truth/authority, visibility and privacy are emphasized here. These are important topics that we should critically examine. We are constantly in front of screens sending emails, watching Youtube videos, blogging about life, uploading pictures, updating our Facebook statuses, surfing articles, and more, and it is having an impact on us. Mr. Challies addresses all of these topics in 200 pages (or nine hours of audio) with the use of Scripture. The Next Story contains much needed counsel to help us to discipline our use of technology.
Reading The Next Story has made me really reevaluate not only how I use technology, but how I communicate and spend time with others. I serve as a principal at an international school where I am constantly checking and answering emails. I have had my head buried in my iPhone or MacBook Pro far too often, and this has unfortunately carried over to my home. The overwhelming majority of us probably need to visit less websites, not look at our inbox so often, and turn off all the dings and chimes on our smartphones. I have made some changes in my life in an effort to prevent technology from owning me, but more improvements will need to be made.
I plan on reading portions of The Next Story again this summer, but at a slower pace and sharing what I have learned with the administrators and teachers I work with. I also want the middle school students at TIS to not only use computers to access information on the Net and complete their assignments, but to do so in a spiritually discerning way. The Next Story is a book that will help us in that quest. I have nothing but praise for this book. If endorsements mean anything to you, it should be noted that a number of prominent people including Bryan Chapell, President of Covenant Seminary, Michael Horton, Editor-in-Chief of Modern Reformation magazine, and Justin Taylor, Managing Editor of the ESV Study Bible, have only good words for The Next Story. I highly recommend checking it out.
Disclaimer: Zondervan sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. A positive review was not required.
Honestly, I wasn't really interested in reading a book about technology. However, technology is a huge part of my husband's life (as an IT specialist), so he asked me to order The Next Story after watching the book trailer. While I wasn't interested in the subject matter, I absolutely love reading books with others and discussing the ideas therein, especially with the love of my life. Since it was important to him, I decided to seize the opportunity and read along. I am so glad that I did!
The Next Story is an important book for all of us who are living in the world but not seeking to be of the world. As Christians, we should use technology in a decidedly different manner than those who are not living for the glory of God. Challies asks, "How has the digital explosion reshaped our understanding of ourselves, our world, and, most importantly, our knowledge of God?" (pg. 12).
He writes: "...every technology brings with it both risk and opportunity" (pg. 36). We must realize that technology, like all other created things, "is prone to draw your heart away from God, to distract you and enable you to rely on your own abilities rather than trusting God" (pg. 24). However, "it is not the technology itself that is good or evil; it is the human application of that technology" (pg. 25).
Challies wisely realizes that "...for most of us, avoidance [of technology] is not an option, nor is it necessarily the most biblical, God-honoring response...Our task, then, is not to avoid technology but to carefully evaluate it, redeem it, and ensure that we are using it with the right motives and for the right goals" (pg. 32). He writes: "We need to seek to understand how a technology will change and shape us before we introduce it to our lives" (pg. 61). It will change the way that we think with regard to content (what we think) and process (how we think).
Challies raises a lot of great questions; some of which he answers, while others are left for the reader to answer as a means of personal application. This isn't a book that legalistically dictates when you can use technology, for how much time, etc...though Challies does recommend that the reader set boundaries.
The Next Story deals with many practical issues including communication, distraction, thinking, and idolatry, all the while encouraging the reader to examine his/her heart and teaching how to apply the Gospel. Although Challies examines each of these topics (and others) specifically with regard to digital technology, the content of this book could easily be applied more broadly and is relevant to us all.
All in all, this book is an interesting and thought-provoking title and an excellent choice for those wishing to think Biblically about technology and living life to the glory of God. Highly recommended!
*Many thanks to Zondervan for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!
This was a fantastic book. I found it very thought provoking and challenging. The author presses the issue with technology not from the point of view of good or evil but how can and should Christians react / interact with technology. It's both theological and practical. The author challenges the believer to use technology in a manner that honors and glorifies God and enahnces the integrity and testimony of the Christian user. I rarely say this but this book is a must read.
Staying Spiritually sensitive in the Computer Age!
May 22, 2011
Tim Challies's punchline approach at stirring up a conversation on the influence of technology from a Christian perspective in his new book, The Next Story, is quite commendable. Exploring and accentuating on the pit-falls that abounds where this "digital bubble" is used without discernment,as opposed to the responsibility of taking charge of its harness and becoming the Master and not the slave.
The Next Story is a two part engaging read that sees Tim dissecting topics like technology, family,the real world and discernment; and offers the possibility of a fusion of both without distraction leading to the story after..