Last week I posted my notes on the first weekend of the second annual Ecclesia and Ethics Conference. This is my summary of Saturday’s second weekend:
Loren E. Wilkinson was the first presenter. He spoke on “‘Jars of Clay’ or ‘The Black Mirror’: The Incarnation and the Technology of Virtuality: wherein he spoke about “The Black Mirror”, “Steam Punk”, and “Trans-Humanism” in light of the Incarnation and the Gospel. It was a very, very thought provoking talk on the line between being human and incorporating technology into our daily life. It put the fear of Google Glass in me!
Brandon Cox presented on “The Nature of God and the Nature of Social Media”. He shared some of the ideas present in his new book, Rewired: How Using Today’s Technology Can Bring You Can to Deeper Relationships, Real Conversations, and Age-Old Methods of Sharing God’s Love.
During the break-out sessions I had the privilege of moderating Michael Burdett‘s “Attention Online: Christian Praxis and Internet Living”; Arthur Keefer‘s “Principles of Pedagogy with Jesus and the Insufficiency of Online Theological Education”; and Joseph Wolyniak‘s “Private Browsing?: Assessing the Pillars of Pornography in the Digital Age”.
Burdett’s presentation reminded me a bit of Schuurman’s last week. He provides some disturbing information regarding how our time online impacts our attention spans, our ability to read, our analytical thinking skills. In response, he invited us to engage the Christian practices of fasting, Lectio Divina, and silence and solitude. Honestly, in part, my Lenten fast this year focuses on online activity and social media for this very reason. The Internet is become one with our minds and this isn’t always good.
Keefer attempted to move us past the pros and cons of online education focusing instead on what the goals of an institution in light of Jesus’ pedagogical example in the Gospels. What are the intended outcomes? Now that the intended outcomes have been considered one can ask whether or not online theology education works.
Wolyniak talked about the pornographication of our society, especially via the Internet. He asked, “Where does this come from?” He finds that our modern addiction has its genesis during the Early Enlightenment. He showed how the history of pornography paralleled that of technology which helps explain our situation today.
The day ended with Ben Myers‘ “The Ethics of Looking: Patristic Reflections on the Cyber Gaze” which I also moderated. He talked to us about Tertullian’s address regarding the “spectacles” and Christian participation. While we think the eyes are passive observers, Tertullian connects the action of the eyes with the spirit of the person, and therefore “looking” is a moral act.