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Following Jesus in a Digital Age

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
June 19, 2022 1:13 am

Following Jesus in a Digital Age

Words of Life / Salvation Army

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June 19, 2022 1:13 am

In our final episode of our series, “Discipled by Algorithms”, we learn about Jason Thacker’s next book, “Following Jesus in a Digital Age”. This topic is basically what we’ve discussed throughout this series. To learn more about Jason’s work, purchase his books and listen to his podcast, click the link below.

 

Series: Discipled by Algorithms

https://jasonthacker.com/

 

https://salvationarmysoundcast.org/wordsoflife

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Hi, this is Bernie Dake. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Bernie Dake.

And I'm Cheryl Gillum. Sadly, this is our last episode in the series about technology and the church with Jason Thacker. We began this way back in May, so if you've missed any episodes, be sure to subscribe to Words of Life on your favorite podcast store or visit salvationarmysoundcast.org. To learn more about Jason and find his latest books, you can visit our website or jasonthacker.com.

In this final episode, we talk about his next book coming out in August, Following Jesus in a Digital Age. Welcome back to Words of Life. Jason, it has been such a pleasure to have you here. For our listeners, Jason Thacker is joining us for the last of seven episodes where we've been talking about his writing and the book that he's put together called The Age of AI, Artificial Intelligence.

I feel smarter for having just been in your company. And again, we're grateful that you're here. We've touched on so many things and I think there's still more, but in this episode particularly, I want to talk to you about following Jesus in a digital age and maybe even what might be coming out from your hand in the future.

Well, good that we're focusing on that because that's the title of my next book, which will be coming out in August of this year, end of August of 2022. And it's focused on following Jesus in the digital age. That's really the question that I get asked is, what does it mean to follow Jesus? And what does the Bible say about technology? I think often we kind of assume that whatever the... The Bible doesn't really speak to a lot of the modern questions we have.

It doesn't really speak to issues of AI like we've been talking about throughout this series or technology, because you can go to your concordance and you don't see AI, you don't see technology, you don't see a smartphone. But really what we do is we go back to this, especially from an ethical perspective and see these principles, this wisdom that the scripture is given. So I frame the whole book is around the wisdom tradition, specifically around the Psalms, the Proverbs, about how God calls us to live. And I open that book specifically talking about often I think we just assume that having the right beliefs means that we're good. As long as we believe the right things, that's fine. So we'll often focus on theology or doctrine and having the right beliefs.

What I'm gonna argue in the book is that, yes, that's true, but those beliefs have corresponding actions. They cause us to do something, which really is the nature of ethics. So ethics isn't that class that you had to take, that business ethics that was really boring or that class that seemed really disconnected from your daily life, like these really crazy ethical situations that really there weren't a good answer to. Ethics is discipleship, what we've been talking about through this whole series.

And so what I do in that book is kind of talk about the nature of theology, about having right beliefs and how that corresponds to having right actions. And that's really what wisdom is. That's what the wisdom tradition is, is calling us what does it mean to live in the age in which God has placed us? And for us, it's in the digital age. We live in a world inundated by technology. We're surrounded by it constantly.

And so what does it mean to take our beliefs and align those with our actions as we live out in this age, just live out what does it mean to be faithful and to follow Jesus in this digital age? And so in that book, I really talk about the nature of technology, which we talked about a few episodes ago. What is technology? How is it shaping and forming and discipling us? And then getting into specific questions around misinformation, fake news, and the nature of truth in the digital age, to get into questions about moral responsibility.

I think especially what we've talked about in the series is algorithms. And we always say, well, the algorithm made me do it, or big tech made me do it, or those people over there made me do it. And the Bible says something different about our moral responsibility. You referenced that a couple episodes ago, our moral agency, our moral responsibility. And that flows from who we are. It's made in the image of God.

And so what does the Bible talk about that? How do we shape up these conversations about tech? And then lastly, I focus specifically on our identity. Not only what does it mean to be human, but more so our identity in Christ. I think we're often driven in this age, especially social media age, to find our identity in the things we do, to find our identity in things we believe, to find it in our tribe or our groups or our churches rather than Jesus. And I think that's really one of the most important questions is where is our identity? Because we see this kind of polarization, we see this divisiveness, we see this tension within society.

It's us versus them. And that's where the gospel comes in and really upends our entire understanding of identity. And that's really what I try to focus on in this new book is kind of focused on really social media and kind of this age in which we inhabit and what does it mean to follow Jesus in the midst of that. I think this is a safe statement, but when we talk about social media, we're no longer talking about just teenagers or just young adults. This is affecting everybody because by and large, we subscribe to social media now. They have specific applications now for young people, which is a great way to protect what they're seeing and limit who's got access to them, of course.

But could you give us some ideas? We did talk about ways to really be responsible with these opportunities, but maybe just revisit the idea of being responsible with social media. I think you make a really good point is that I think for some listeners, they may say, well, I'm not really on social media, but you're actually still being formed by it and being shaped by it.

And case in point, I have a friend who talks about their grandmother who lives in a nursing home, who's never been on a computer, doesn't even own a smartphone, obviously is not on social media, who will routinely tell her grandson, my neighbor was on Facebook and saw X. And so it's funny that even if we try to isolate and try to pull ourselves away and not engage in these tools and these technologies, we ended up still being influenced by it. And that's really what I'm talking about is even shaping the nature of truth and how we understand reality. But in terms of these practical habits and some of the things that we can do specifically, I think is one is we've talked about in previous episodes is we tend to, technology causes us to seek efficiency and speed above all. It's as fast as we can get something and react in real time to something. And sometimes we just need to slow down. And what that means is simply maybe putting down our device or reading articles or slowing down or listening to a podcast and not multitasking or reading a book and not multitasking or being with our kids and not multitasking or doing our job and not multitasking. I don't remember the phrase you used, but you have a tech-free table as an idea.

That's a good practice to get into. Yeah. It's something that we for years weren't doing. And one day my wife and I looked across the table and we were like, we can't do this. Not only are we on our devices, but our kids are on other devices. So we tried to put them down. It was hard for a few days to be real honest.

They weren't very happy about it, the children that is. And they started to kind of get used to it as, oh no, we're going to have conversation. But then other times is maybe putting down our devices or charging our phones and other rooms instead of next to our bed and using a regular alarm clock or having honest conversations with people who can challenge you and kind of push you on things to say, well, how are you doing in X, Y, and Z?

And we typically in the church have seen that through accountability groups or small groups. And I think that's especially important as we kind of move forward in the digital age is that we need people who can check us. And we're hoping to have a vacation in the next coming months. And I'm thinking already I'm going completely dark. I'm going to literally take, probably not even bring some of these devices, much less have them on. So I'll put a regular watch on instead of a smartwatch.

Just trying to disconnect. Living on the edge. And not knowing every breaking story or every controversy that's going to hit social media in real time.

And that's okay. Because I think we live and there's an author named Alan Jacobs who talks about how we live in this kind of onslaught of information, this information age, and we're simply given and exposed to more information than we can ever hope to process. And he says that the way he talks about it is that information processing is like battlefield triage. We're just running from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next, just trying to like take care of the, put out the fires. And one of the things I think we can do and being inundated by information is slowing down, disconnecting, maybe getting our news from a couple trusted sources rather than maybe always social media or reading an actual newspaper or a magazine rather than always getting the sound bites on social media.

Little things, little practices just to have better habits. And this doesn't mean we reject technology. I think there's kind of a misnomer, especially within the church that we just have to reject technology outright. It's all bad.

No, we've already talked about that. It's not all bad. It can be really good gifts of God, but taking a more balanced wisdom filled approach is to know that technology is forming, it's shaping us. And maybe it's shaping us in ways that aren't very reflective of Christ.

Maybe it's more reflective of the world and the culture around us. And so having those kind of categories, I think help us to kind of realize that the things we do online are part of our real life and we are responsible for those things that we do. I think there's a tendency for us to divide our online life or digital life from real life. You've heard the adage of, well, he's really nice in real life if you meet him.

He's a jerk online, but he's a really nice guy if you meet him. And that should not be the way it is with Christians. That's not who we are. Who we are is the same online and the same we are in real life and in person. And so our goal is to kind of align those things as we follow Jesus into the digital age. So for me, the idea of a tech-free table and being present with each other is so important. A wise man once told me when dealing with the first loss that my wife and I had experienced as a couple, her brother had passed away and I called an elder, a friend, a mentor and said, what am I supposed to do? And his advice to me was just be present.

It's a ministry of presence. Now take that forward, even into the workforce. There's something to be said about someone who can look at you with their eyes and smile. And, you know, we always, I always like to say teeth and eyes. That's what sells things.

You know, that's, that's how you get, get influenced because you're actually engaging in some form of relationship by simply being present. I want to encourage our listeners to take that to heart and also to check out Jason Thacker's book, the age of AI. You've done a good work here and there's more to be had this summer. We heard there's another book coming out, which we talked about following Jesus in the digital age. You can find these resources anywhere you buy books. Will there be an audio version of the book that's coming out? So I haven't heard from the publisher yet, but maybe this podcast will push them along a little bit. Well, there is an audio version available for the age of AI. If you want to check it out in that format as well. Jason, tell our listeners how they can find you at all the places.

Yeah. The easiest way to go to my website is jasonthacker.com and that'll list out all the books and forthcoming resources we have, including a new Bible study specifically on following Jesus in the digital age. It's alongside the book. The book comes out in August of this year, August of 2022.

Really excited to get that in the hands of folks. So you kind of start to think through this isn't a book that's written for academics. This is a book written for everyday people.

Just like me and you to think about better and have more wisdom as we approach a lot of these type of questions. So you can go to my website, jasonthacker.com. I also host a podcast called the Digital Public Square Podcast.

You can find it wherever podcasts are hosted. And that's really the best way through social media, the books, a lot of writing. I also have a weekly newsletter that I put out with various articles, kind of addressing a lot of Christian ethics in the public square. Amen. Jason, God bless you. Thanks again for joining us and to all of our listeners, God bless you.

We hope to see you on the next episode of Words of Life. The Salvation Army's mission, doing the most good means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support.

And we'd love to hear from you. Email us at radio at uss.salvationarmy.org. Call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at P.O.

Box 29972, Atlanta, Georgia 30359. Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or share your testimony. We would love to use your story on the air. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes or your favorite podcast store and be sure to give us a rating. Just search for the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes, extended interviews and more. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. This is Bernie Dake inviting you to join us next time for the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-31 05:12:19 / 2023-03-31 05:18:28 / 6

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