I’m sure you are like me and wonder about the connection between our need for technology and our obsession with it. I’m part of the generation who opted to live in the library during my college years and even in my teaching years as well. All the answers were there and it took all day to plumb the card catalogue and then walk among the massive shelves trying to read the call letters and titles until you found your source. I remember searching for books in Harvard’s Widener Library, when I spent a summer there, and I had to follow colored tape on the floor between shelves leading to my destination. If your area of study was marked with red tape you followed the red tape, if it started with green tape, you followed that color, yellow the same, etc. Legend had it that many students got lost among the shelves and security would have to locate them. Once I secured the book, I followed the tape back to my area of study. That’s how massive the shelving area was! But today, much of our treasured scholarship is only one click away.
Rob Barrett, a former IBM researcher was once asked by his boss to outline default privacy settings. The only direction from the boss was, “Do the right thing.” This struck Barrett who concluded, “I don’t know enough theology to be a good engineer.” He asked for a leave of absence to study the Bible and eventually left the industry. His story, among others, is told in a recent study published by The New York Times and written by Linda Kinstler who was part of a group of 36 persons from different faiths contributing to the research of Shanon Boettcher on artificial intelligence and spirituality. Yes, those two fields merged into one!
Some of Kinstler’s respondents think that artificial intelligence is prompting the question: What does it mean to be human? But I would go further and ask: Do I believe in the power of digital devices over the power of God in my life? It seems to me that there is a clear line of demarcation between my spirituality and my laptop or cell phone or all the platforms I use on a daily basis. God is fundamentally mystery. God is the energy of love that invades every part of every person’s being. God cannot be proven by data or reached by mathematical equations. What I love about God is that this magnificent Being defies our limitations of theorems and arguments, but inspires us to use them for the good of others. The internet is a blessing, but God is the one who inspired it. The internet can calm our fears, assuage our grief, provide the answers, but it cannot lure us to an unimaginable heart and embrace us personally out of total, mysterious love.
One of the most beautiful and meaningful writings of the Hebrew Scriptures
attesting to the power of God over the fragile efforts of the human spirit is found in The Book of Job in the Hebrew Scriptures. I see it as a testament of what we need to consider when we wonder about God’s place in our all-consuming worldly concerns. In fact, I picture God picking up Job by the nape of the neck and asking, “Who do you think you are?” I simply love God’s humorous sarcasm: “Have you an inkling of the extent of the earth? Tell me all about it if you have!”
For this week, read the speeches of Yahweh in Job, chapters 38 & 39. Journal your reflections on this amazing piece of poetry and arguments on the human condition and God’s concern for all of it. Use, respect, love technology but go beyond it to pray.
In response to some of your requests, here is my list of things that bring me joy. I asked you to do this in my last blog. No particular order here,
–I find joy in family and community gatherings
–in spreading color on my painting palette
–in finding a scriptural passage that stops me in my tracks
–in playing with our dog and walking with her in the woods
–in greeting a beautiful day in any season, but especially summer
–in hearing a favorite musical piece: classical, country, or popular
–in spending time with a special friend
–in reading a good book and doing research
Remember to make your list. Shared gratitude is complete gratitude. May all of you, my faithful readers and Anonymous Angels fall in love with this coming week of summer days.