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Discerning Use of Technology
July 26, 2013 | Brian Cole
Discerning Use of Technology
As we continue to apply our approach to different difficult topics at the intersection of faith and science, The Colossian Forum recently facilitated a forum on discerning the wise use of technology at Lee Street CRC. This was the third of a four-part series at the church. Rob Barrett, TCF's Director of Fellows & Forums, began the forum with an interactive presentation that focused on discerning use of technology. In it, he described that many people feel themselves to be falling into unhealthy patterns of addiction to social media and living with constant technology distractions. There are also significant tensions between generations as the old and young adopt these technologies differently. The main presentation depended heavily on video clips to convey the grounding idea that technologies provide help for living better. But how can we use technologies well if we are unclear about our goal for living well as Christians? Without such a vision, we risk coasting along, falling prey to living lives shaped by worldly forces, which have different goals for our lives. Facebook has a vision for the good life that has us in touch with everyone all the time (through Facebook, of course!), which can simultaneously lead to us being out-of-touch with the folks right in front of us. The end-point of living on our smartphones is not necessarily positive, a point well-articulated by clips from Sherry Turkle at MIT, who has observed people using technology for 30 years. The Amish provide a helpful counterexample as they continue their tradition of purposefully discerning and living out their technological choices. Rather than seeing themselves as unlimited and infinite, they admit that they cannot have both the kind of family life they discern as good and a television in their homes, so they choose the limitation of no television. The end-point of this way of life is a community of Christians willing to release things in order to live well. This was strikingly demonstrated by their willingness to forego vengeance after the Nickel Mines shootings. The effect of sacrifice for a higher good is profound, as well illustrated by Jesus’ willingness to forego his divinity and become nothing, as described in Philippians 2. Throughout the entire forum series the discussion time had proven crucial for moving the ideas from the presenter’s words and context to the concerns and questions of the forum participants. Following the discerning technology presentation in the main sanctuary, forum participants spent 45 minutes in discussion around tables in the fellowship hall. These discussions focused on different technologies, their promises, and their actual usefulness for living the Christian life well. Teenagers were happy to explain all the advantages of communicating by text-messaging to the dinosaurs around the tables. And indeed, there were many ideas for discerning ways that texting could help Lee Street live out its mission of “making mature disciples.” The older participants then had an opportunity to share the value of letter writing and suggest to the younger participants ways that a hand-written note can demonstrate love for another. There was a clearly articulated need at the end for moving from forums that intervene momentarily into people’s lives to patterns of sustained engagement with TCF’s ideas. A church leader remarked, “We hear a presentation like this once in a blue moon, but the other message—that we can have it all—bombards us every hour of every day.”
TCF Sponsors Respectful Conversation on American Evangelicalism
May 1, 2013 | Brian Cole
TCF Sponsors Respectful Conversation on American Evangelicalism
The Colossian Forum is sponsoring a virtual conversation on the www.respectfulconversation.net website, hosted by TCF Senior Fellow, Harold Heie. The title of this conversation is "American Evangelicalism: Present Conditions, Future Possibilities." This conversation will last for 7 months, with one month devoted to each of 7 pre-announced sub-topics, which will include Evangelicalism and the Broader Christian Tradition, Evangelicalism and the Modern Study of Scripture, Evangelicalism and Morality, Evangelicalism and Politics, and Evangelicalism and Higher Education. After postings by “primary contributors” on a given topic, readers will have the opportunity to submit “comments” in a moderated forum. If you are interested, you can subscribe to receive all the postings for this conversation in your email in-box by going to “Email Subscription” on the web site. To date, 28 Christian scholars have agreed to be primary contributors to this conversation, including Randall Balmer (Dartmouth College), Amy Black (Wheaton College), Jeannine Brown (Bethel Seminary), Peter Enns (Eastern University), John Franke (Yellowstone Theological Institute), Stanton Jones (Wheaton College), Ben Mitchell (Union University), Richard Mouw (Fuller Theological Seminary), Soong-Chan Rah (North Park Theological Seminary), Sandy Richter (Wesley Seminary), Sarah Ruden (Wesleyan University), Mark Sargent (Westmont College), Corwin Smidt (Calvin College), Theodore Williams (City Colleges of Chicago), John Wilson (Books & Culture), and Amos Yong (Regent University). This conversation is also co-sponsored by the Center for Faith & Inquiry at Gordon College and Eastern University.
The Colossian Forum Receives Grant for Project on Evolution and The Fall
February 19, 2013 | Brian Cole
The Colossian Forum Receives Grant for Project on Evolution and The Fall
The Colossian Forum has received a $303,732, three-year grant from The BioLogos Foundation for their project, Beyond Galileo – to Chalcedon: Re-imagining the Intersection of Evolution and the Fall. This project is led by Dr. James K.A. Smith (Calvin College), Dr. William Cavanaugh (DePaul University) and Michael Gulker (President - The Colossian Forum). The Colossian Forum was one of 37 winners out of 225 applicants to the Biologos Evolution & Christian Faith grants competition. This project gathers a multidisciplinary team of leading scholars to pursue a communal research project on evolution, the Fall, and original sin, asking a pressing question: If humanity emerged from non-human primates—as genetic, biological, and archaeological evidence seems to suggest—then what are the implications for Christian theology’s traditional account of origins, including both the origin of humanity and the origin of sin? The integrity of the church’s witness requires that it constructively address this difficult question. The team believes that cultivating an orthodox theological imagination can enable Christians to engage these tensions without giving up on confessional orthodoxy. So its confessional methodology is as central to the project as its topic. The team embraces the church’s ancient wisdom in the Council of Chalcedon as a model and template for how to faithfully grapple with contemporary challenges. The team believes the resources for such theological imagination are carried in the liturgical heritage of the church—in the worship practices and spiritual disciplines that enact the biblical story in ways that seep into our imagination, helping Christians see creative ways forward through this challenge. Research will be shared in a culminating conference and resulting scholarly book. In addition, the fruit of the team’s research will also be “translated” and distributed for pastors, Christian educators and students through forums, web publishing, and curricula. For more information about The Colossian Forum on Faith, Science and Culture, visit http://colossianforum.orgsite.2016. The Biologos Foundation Announcement – http://biologos.org/blog/evolution-and-christian-faith-grantees-announced. Contact: Brian Cole, Director of Operations Telephone: 616-328-6016 Email: bcole@colossianforum.org