Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The iPhone as cultural pornography

One fruit to rule them all?
The iPhone 5 release event in NYC; photo by thomasebunton/Flickr
Sometimes it couldn't be more blatant. My favorite nerd site, Ars Technica, ran two stories yesterday separated by a mere 17 minutes. Here they are in the order I saw them in my Twitter feed:
  1. iPhone 5 sales top 5 million during launch weekend (9/24, 9:17am)
  2. Foxconn worker riot closes factory (9/24, 9:00 am)
Line from the first story:
"Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
Awesome, how are they going to do that? Well...the second story has some clues:
TUAW speculates that the riots (at Foxconn) were in no small part caused by the recent long iPhone 5 production ramp-up; Engadget links to a (non-English) report discussing "practically compulsory" overtime related to iPhone 5 production.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Seeing the game: Constraints on virtuous online discourse

Image from Rob Annable/Flickr
My techno-linguistic-virtue brain has been working overtime today as I've encountered a few pieces online. First I came across this great little piece from author/church-planter, J.R. Briggs, offering 10 self-reflective questions for making status updates on Facebook. They are:
  1. What is my motive?
  2. Will this matter in a month?
  3. Is this wise?
  4. Is it worth it?
  5. Does everyone need to read this?
  6. Am I encouraging conversation or shutting it down?
  7. How’s my tone of voice?
  8. Is this honoring?
  9. Is this truthful?
  10. Could I be investing my time more wisely by doing something else?
While the list is a bit longer than you'd want to write down and tape next to your computer monitor for every single time you post something to Facebook, it nonetheless offers great reminders, especially the first question on motive. "What is this status update for? From what desires does it spring, and are those legitimate?"

Virtuous discourse is something I think and write about from time to time - so it's nice to see other leaders in the church encouraging the same. And then I saw this tweet from Adam Graber:
We must learn to see technology the way we see language, "as transparent conduits of meaning."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reforming Reformation: Non-coercive witness

Church ruins at Heptonstall;
photo by David Sykes via Flickr
In a review for what looks to be a fascinating book, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society by Brad Gregory, reviewer Kathleen Crowther summarizes a segment of Gregory's argument:
[In the wake of "sola scriptura"], the only way Protestant groups (and Catholics) were able to command assent to their particular readings of scripture was to back them up with political force; the "magisterial" reformers and Catholics managed to do this while the "radical" reformers did not. This led to "the coercive, prosecutory, and violent actions of early modern confessional regimes" (p. 160). Where caritas had once reigned as the central virtue in European Christianity, it was replaced in the early modern period by "obedience" to both divine and secular authorities. (Inner quote is from Gregory's book.)
Looking at the index, I know that Gregory makes use of Alasdair MacIntyre's work on the loss of the virtue tradition in Western societies after the Enlightenment, so his reference to the loss of caritas caught my eye, but so did the reference to confessional coercion, even violence, by Protestants and Catholics. Radical reformers, especially the early Anabaptists, were often the target of such coercion.

Now check out this working definition of "evangelical" by John Howard Yoder from The Priestly Kingdom:
I take the term in its root meaning. One is functionally evangelical if one confesses oneself to have been commissioned by the grace of God with a message which others who have not heard it should hear. It is angellion ("news") because they will not know it unless they are told it by a message-bearer. It is good news because hearing it will be for them not alienation or compulsion, oppression or brainwashing, but liberation. Because this news is only such when received as good, it can never be communicated coercively; nor can the message-bearer ever positively be assured that it will be received. (p. 55, emphasis added in bold)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Political Theology: Elected to be consumed

Challa bread photo by the.pinoyboy via Flick/CC license.
I have a new post up at Political Theology's "There is Power in the Blog"...blog:

Elected to be consumed

As I say in the intro:
I hope to show why...tactical abstinence from American politics and news media is not necessarily irresponsible, but can be seen as righteously “therapeutic” (in a Wittgenstinian sense) or as residing in what Mennonite writer, Tim Huber, has recently called a “holy silence.” I will do so by meditating on the word “election” in light of two different traditions. First, in the context of American politics, and then in the biblical/covenantal sense.
I also do a bit of eucharistic theology at the end and make reference to the Election Day Communion movement, started by a few Mennonite pastors.