There is much about our current situation in the twenty-first century for which we are and should be thankful. We have technologies that allow for communication, travel, comfort, health, and luxury to a degree never before seen in the world. These are blessings from God, and we are thankful for them.
With our new technologies (and technology seems central to each of these features of our life and culture), however, has come a degree of anxiety. Many thoughtful people have recognized a danger in our technological age. Their fear is that, rather than serving as a means to some greater end, technology will become the great end in itself. More specifically, our fear as Christians is that, rather than helping us to worship God, technology will become the object of our worship.
Christians and secular thinkers who have written about this problem have identified some parallel trends that “technopoly” will bring in its wake.1 Among them will be a widespread superficiality, a disregard for tradition, and an increasing materialism that will replace worship and religion.
As a response to these trends, I offer the following paraphrase of Habakkuk 3:17-18 from the Scottish Psalter of 1880. I hope that its words will pierce our superficial thinking and feeling; that it will remind us of the value of our Christian traditions of worship (especially the tradition of “singing Scripture”); and that it well help us to worship God as more valuable than any material goods.
What though no flowers the fig-tree clothe,
Though vines their fruit deny,
The labor of the olive fail,
And fields no meat supply?
Though from the fold, with sad surprise,
My flock cut off I see;
Though famine pine in empty stalls,
Where herds were wont to be?
Yet in the Lord will I be glad,
And glory in his love:
In him I’ll joy, who will the God
Of my salvation prove.
He to my tardy feet shall lend
The swiftness of the roe;
Till, raised on high, I safely dwell
Beyond the reach of woe.
God is the treasure of my soul,
The source of lasting joy;
A joy which want shall not impair,
Nor death itself destroy.
Set to the beautiful tune “Wiltshire,” in Hymns of Grace and Glory, #632.
1. Postman, Neil. Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. Highly recommended reading! For a specifically Christian approach to technology, see Challies, Tim. The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.