Friday, May 18, 2012

The Call to Build Community by Marva J. Dawn

In reading from the book “The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call” by Marva Dawn and Eugene Peterson, I found some paragraphs worth sharing.
The most extreme leap in the breakdown of the social fabric came with the onset of the technological milieu.  Jacques Ellul states that technicization brought as drastic a breach as the
Fall, but that is a typical Ellulian overstatement.  Though nothing could be as decisive as human entry into sin, Ellul is right to recognize how terribly (and subtly) disruptive of the communal fabric our present milieu is, to a great extent because the very tools we work with and the toys with which we play pull us away from each other.
For example, consider dishwashers.  We might think they are great labor-saving devices, but we do not as easily notice how they have stolen part of our household fabric for intimacy.  When I was a child, my brothers and I did the dishes together and sang in three-part harmony while we cleaned them.  I won’t falsely romanticize that intimacy—we also whacked each other with towels—but the potential for enjoyable singing and good conversation was there.  We also sang together with our parents in the car on our way to Wisconsin to visit our grandparents; when we were in college (a time when lots of siblings lose touch with each other), my closest brother and I used to make up fugues on the train home for holidays.  The point is that we had established the practices of fellowship and nurtured them while we did dishes.  If a family uses a dishwasher, taking care of the dishes is usually a solitary job.  In addition, think of all the technological toys, like Walkmans and solo computer games, that keep us from singing with each other in our society.
Consider television sets.  We never owned one when I was small.  Instead we played games and various sports together.  These days if my husband and I go for a walk in the evening, we notice that in some houses as many as three different television sets are on in the some houses as many as three different television sets are on at the same time in different rooms.   What kind of camaraderie is possible in a family that spends its time so separated?
I am grateful for technological tools.  (I am not a Luddite!)  The problem is that we become too enthralled with their advantages and don’t ask good questions about how much they take away from us.  For example, computers are much faster than typewriters for writing books; I’m glad simply to punch “Print” after making corrections instead of retyping everything.  However, computers can also contribute to our alienation far more than we realize.

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