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Of Phones, Worship, Teaching, & Post-Modernism

telephone

These are what, to me, appear to be related points. It would be interesting if you connect the dots differently – or if you could add further points that resulted in a clearer or different picture. Let us know.

Last month, I received a request from Alex Davidson to try a BoringPhone for Lent, a phone that has “all the useful stuff, none of the distractions”:

It has the essential smartphone tools that we’ve come to rely on: Calling, texting, a camera, maps, music, podcasts and more.

The key difference is what the BoringPhone doesn’t have:  No social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram), no browser and no email.

And there is no way to install those distracting apps.


I didn’t add trialing the BoringPhone to my Lenten disciplines, but I think the primary points that the concept highlights is worth much reflection.

In our smart-phone culture, there is a noticeable drop in attention span. This flows on into worship styles, preaching, and education.

There is a noticeable increase in the need for everything to be whizz-bang-pop exciting. This struck home for me last year: people had paid good money to go to Mission: Impossible – Fallout. It is hard to imagine a more non-stop action movie. Yet, there were people on their phones – white rectangles glowing in the dark theatre, breaking the suspension of disbelief of moviegoers like me. This flows on into worship styles, preaching, and education.

There is a noticeable decrease in memory – short and longterm. Why memorise times-tables when you have a calculator with you at all times? Why learn Greek declensions when you can look them up anywhere? Why remember that you are meeting someone at 2pm when you have an alarm in your pocket. This flows on into worship styles, preaching, and education.

This dovetails with post-modernism’s critique of canons of truth. Why learn about this and not that? New Zealand’s education curriculum is at the far end of skills over content. Earlier this year Kiwis were surprised that even the Treaty of Waitangi isn’t in the required content of New Zealand’s education curriculum. If you want to know the date of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, or what its articles say – you can look that up. Knowing stuff is regularly put down in educational circles as “just-in-case education”. Advertisements for a particular educational institution contrast with knowledge for its own sake as “just a piece of paper”. Knowledge-for-its-own-sake subjects have long shut their doors at many of our universities. This flows on into worship styles, preaching, and education – including the education and formation of clergy.

A final thought I retweeted the other day: What if we began to treat our Bibles the way we treat our cell phones.

What if we

  • carried it with us everywhere
  • turned back to get it if we forgot it
  • checked it for messages throughout the day
  • used it in case of an emergency
  • spent an hour or more using it each day?

Add your thoughts in the comments below…

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One Response to Of Phones, Worship, Teaching, & Post-Modernism

  1. Carrying your Bible with you everywhere everyday and using it in this way is much easier when you download it onto your smartphone – along with whatever study or meditation aids your fine useful!

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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