Connecting to the Material World

Ian Barns notes that our technologies are not spiritually neutral tools. Rather,

as we use them (either for good or for ill) we are drawn more deeply into a particular way of being in the world which shapes the kinds of people we are, the sorts of relationships we have, and also the way we conceive of and experience God.*

As we are drawn into a world of technological devices which offer us greater power, mobility, security, and convenience and their associated ‘mentality’ of instrumentalism, we become more and more disconnected from the ‘eloquence’ of the material world around us. Eloquent ‘things’ become disposable commodities. The example [Borgmann] gives is that of the hearth being replaced by the gas heater. A gas heater ‘disburdens’ us from the labour of collecting the wood, etc. and disconnects us from those practises through which we engage with the reality of nature, place and community.#

The consumerism of our world constantly works against the eloquence of the material world. Walking, bicycling, and public transit bring us closer to nature and relationships than driving by car. Walking to the market, buying fresh, locally grown produce, cooking it in our own kitchen, eating off of real dishes and cutlery, and washing them up in the sink connects us to the land, nature, and community in ways that a quick burger at the local fast food place never could do. I have many possibilities before me. Some of the choices take sacrifice. What will I choose?

*Ian Barns, “Living Christianly in a Technological World,” research paper (photocopy), p. 2, Photocopy Collections, INDS 582, Connecting and Relating, David Lyon, Regent College Library, Regent College, Vancouver.
#Ibid, p. 11.

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