So this is a bit off from what I had thought to write about. I had planned on posting about the current dilemma with the garbage workers and the mayor's office; it's a mess and I fully intend to write about in great detail but something caught my eye while I was browsing through some blogs that I don't normally frequent. This blog, my blog is listed on an Anabaptist Blog Roll; for those of you not familiar with any or all of those three words, Anabaptist refers to that great theological strain adhered to by the various Mennonite, Amish, Brethren & Hutterite groups that abound today and sundry other collections of Christians. A blog roll is simply a webpage with a list of blogs on it. Thus, the Anabaptist Blog Roll is a webpage with a list of blogs written by Anabaptists or pertaining to Anabaptism in some way or form. In that I am Anabaptist by way of being Mennonite and because I write a blog, I too am listed there. I had never really given much thought to it before but today, I thought to poke around a bit and see what else is listed there and I stumbled upon a blog written by several members of the Church of the Brethren. One article in particular really stood out to me - it was a quick excerpt from a longer blog entry written by the same author but on another one of his blogs (also listed on the anabaptist blog roll)....follow all that? I linked then to the original article and came away nodding my head in agreement and with a general feeling of hopelessness. Let me explain.
The article was more or less a tribute to one Art Gish, a Church of the Brethren theologian, writer, peace activist and farmer who died in a tractor accident on his farm in Ohio at the age of 70. It was centered though on a book Gish had written in the 1970's titled: Beyond the Rat Race and it used the themes of that book to more or less critique our own modern technology, especially the exploding internet/social networking technology and our Christian response to it...if there is any. I enjoyed the article, found myself in agreement with it and alarmed by the conclusions we could draw from it. The last paragraph of the blog entry though, really struck home as it's something I've been thinking about for sometime in my own work with the people of Los Laureles. The final paragraph reads:
From top to bottom, pledging allegiance to the digital age comes with serious implications that most people are not even remotely aware of. A consistent post-Christendom critique of this system in the tradition of Yoder and Hauerwas exposes it as a neo-Constantinian political-economic industrial complex. The poor rarely have voice in this system, as the economic and educational barriers to entry are high. Christians of means are lulled into a slumber by the flashing lights and excited voices, deaf to the despairing cries of a fallen world, deaf to even the cries of those closest to them. If what Gish states is true (and I think it is), that “(u)ncontrolled technology helped us get us into our mess and shows no sign of getting us out” (p. 118), then where to from here?
Our world is built upon and fueled by an ever-expanding and ever-growing reliance upon technology, we as a society can no longer function without the computer/internet. Yet the poor, the people I work with in Los Laureles and others like them, know little to nothing about technological advances beyond the television and cell phones. No one in the community knows how to operate a computer much less what the internet is and how it functions; computers for them make great seats and nothing more. With each passing year our lives become more enmeshed and more dependent upon computer/internet technology and yet the poor are completely shut out from these advances and entanglements because they have absolutely no means to acquire the technology and even if they did they don't have the means to educate themselves so as to learn the technology. Thus the more society "advances" technologically and the more this technology is required to participate and succeed in the economic system, the farther behind are left the poor. We are, through our lemming-like acceptance of every new technological adavnce that comes down the pike, turning the poor into a class of Amish-like Luddites, locked in against their will and without any true means of mass escape.
And there is no turning back as a society, we've bought into the social networking/internet/narcissistic dream and we're marching in lockstep towards that brave, new and certainly lonely world. Can anything be done then to bring the poor along with us? Should we even try? Yes they'll remain poor but at least they'll know how to carry on a conversation with another human being.