Inception, the film directed by Christopher Nolan and released in 2010, is a clever and frequently unsettling depiction of a future society in which advanced technology has unlocked the capacity for humans to leave reality. The characters in Inception have the ability to create, alter, and even invade the dreams of other people thanks to a fictitious invention called a “dream-sharing” device. During the course of the film, the protagonists pay a visit to a researcher who possesses the knowledge necessary to develop a sedative that enables dream-sharing experiences that are even more intense and realistic. One of the characters questions another, “These people come here to fall asleep?” after seeing dozens of individuals sleeping on mattresses in the basement of the scientist’s house while connected to the dream-sharing gadgets. ” The researcher gives the following response: “They come here to wake up. The vision has materialized into a reality for them.

In the movie “Inception,” the authors made a significant revelation about human nature while using a setting that was based on science fiction. We humans have a tendency to exploit our technology in order to put the world that God has given us at a distance and to retreat into an alternative reality that is more to our liking if we have the ability to do so. Even though dream-sharing is the stuff of imagination, there are already highly developed technologies that give us the power to construct and live our own reality. These technologies give us godlike abilities. In point of fact, you most likely have one of these technologies either in your hands or in your pocket at this very moment.

The combination of the Internet, mobile phones, and social media has resulted in nothing less than a complete transformation of culture. They serve as the major point of interaction with the outside world for hundreds of millions if not billions of individuals. Through the use of the Internet, we now not only work but also study, listen, argue, discuss, play, and even worship. Shouldn’t we be asking questions like, “What kind of medium is this?” more frequently, given the radical novelty and enormous imprint of this technology on nearly every facet of our lives? Is there anything in this place that has the potential to influence me at a level that is nearly undetectable?

In point of fact, the responses to these questions might make us feel uneasy.

Our Paradise Constructed Online

The cultural critic Nicholas Carr released his manifesto titled “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” in the same year that filmmaker Christopher Nolan fictionalized a world of escape into dreams in his film “Inception.” The Internet is an intellectual technology that is dramatically altering how we think, read, and communicate. Carr’s argument is presented in a straightforward manner, but its consequences are absolutely mind-boggling. Carr contends that the majority of technologies (like the plow or microscope, for example) “stretch our physical strength” into the outer world, but intellectual technologies (like a clock, a map, or the Internet, for example) directly modify how we think. Because of this, the things that we believe and value undergo more profound and long-lasting shifts as a result of intellectual technology.

Any and all forms of intellectual technology. represents an intellectual ethic, which may be thought of as a collection of assumptions regarding the operation of the human mind or how it ought to operate. The intellectual ethic can be seen as the message that a media or other tool conveys into the thoughts and traditions of the people who employ it.

Carr goes on to demonstrate that the Web’s intellectual ethic can be expressed in a number of distinct ways. Skimming, superficial comprehension, and flimsy, impressionistic interpretation are all behaviors that we are trained to engage in through the use of the Internet as a result of its use of hypertext and distractions, whereas reading a physical book trains the human brain in the skills of quiet and focus. Because the Web’s architecture prioritizes constant novelty and different information (producing what Carr refers to as “the juggler’s brain”), it is exceedingly difficult to pursue one train of thought thoroughly or be present for one particular experience or time when using the Internet.

Carr’s approach helps us make sense of a situation that affects a large number of people. We have the impression that our smartphones, the applications we use, and the websites we browse are in some way interfering with our capacity to read a book for longer than a few minutes at a time. Even at the most euphoric of moments, we get the impression that our ability to lose ourselves has lessened. People increasingly seem to talk past one another and retreat into competing enclaves that reinforce their ideas, which has resulted in many talks taking on a tone that is angrier and more defensive than in the past. This is true even within the church. But we are frequently unable to identify the source of the issue, and as a result, we are frequently left in a state of confusion, where we feel both guilty and frustrated.

Unhappily, Christian responses to this conundrum frequently consist of settling for broad generalizations. Believers who are completely absorbed in the world of the Internet often only want the bare minimum that can appear to “balance” screen time with private devotions or the weekly Sunday service. This is similar to the situation of the young couple who merely wants to know how far is too far. However, this is not sufficient. The problem that lies ahead of us is not to figure out how to introduce a trace amount of Jesus into the digital dreamworlds that we create. It is to get you to wake up.

The Alarm Clock Sent by Wisdom

An exceptionally persuasive and timely wake-up call can be found in the book of Proverbs:

Is it not the call of wisdom?

Does not understanding raise her voice?

On the ridges that run alongside the path,

at the fork in the road, she decides where she stands;

positioned in the vicinity of the town’s entrance gates,

At the threshold of the portals, she shrieks out in a loud voice:

“To you, O men, I call,

And my call is to the future generations of mankind.

O simple ones, learn prudence;

O knaves, get some common sense! (Proverbs 8:1–5)

“There is one thing that all intelligent words and actions have in common, and that is a profound resonance with the reality that is centered on God.”

This would be a grave error on our part to believe, despite the fact that it may be tempting to believe that the intellectual ethic of the Internet is so far removed from the experience of the biblical authors that they offer no way to lead us. Lady Wisdom sends out a summons to the digitally dormant and invites them to a feast at her home. This is exactly the kind of invitation that we require in this day of screen addiction since we are sorely lacking in wisdom. After all, wisdom is nothing more or less than the practice of leading one’s life in line with what is actual. The God who actually exists and the world that he actually created demand of us that we “live with the grain of reality” rather than struggle against it. This is how some theologians have phrased it. Every wise speech and deed have one thing in common, which is a profound resonance with the reality that is centered on God, despite the fact that living wisely has many distinct dimensions.

The verses in Proverbs 3:19–20 make it very obvious that there is a connection between wisdom and the actual physical world:

The Lord, in his wisdom, laid the foundation for the earth;

It was through his wisdom that he created the heavens;

Because of his expertise, the depths were exposed.

and the dew is brought down by the clouds. (Proverbs 3:19–20)

And in Proverbs chapter eight verses twenty-seven through thirty-one, Lady Wisdom sings a wonderful song about how her handiwork is indelibly inscribed on the creation:

During the time that he was creating the heavens, I was present;

When he drew a circle on the surface of the ocean, he was thinking.

as he established order in the heavens above,

when he put the fountains of the deep into operation,

when he determined that the sea had reached its limit,

in order to avoid the possibility of the waves disobeying his command,

During the time that he was laying the groundwork for the earth,

Then I was working alongside him like a skilled craftsman.

I brought him joy on a daily basis, and

delighting in his presence at all times,

joy in the world that he had inhabited

and taking great pleasure in the offspring of man (Proverbs 8:27–31)

The term “wisdom” refers to more than just a collection of memorable sayings or instructive phrases. The “master workman” through whom the entirety of the “actual” universe was created is wisdom. Wisdom takes pleasure in the inhabited world that the Creator has created as well as in the humans who spread the glory of the Creator across the cosmos. To put it another way, wisdom is being acutely aware of the sheer marvel that the world and the people it contains are gifts from God.

“Wisdom is having a profound awareness of the sheer marvel that God has created in the world and in people,”

I’ve come to refer to the disembodied character of the Web as a set of “digital liturgies.” Just like a church service, the Web is a spiritual habitat that works on our minds and hearts to incline us to think, feel, and believe in certain ways. Carr’s insights about “the intellectual ethic” of the Internet were applied to the biblical teaching of wisdom, and this is how I came to apply Carr’s insights to the biblical teaching of wisdom. Why is clear thinking so difficult to achieve? Because the digital liturgies of diversion and novelty are limiting our capacity to comprehend significant, un-Instagrammable truths, and this is a problem. Why is it that it is so simple to feel more united with personalities we encounter online than with the ones who are actually present in our homes or churches? Because the digital liturgies of tailor-made identities and managed timelines tell us that we should only be able to be what we choose to be, the reason for this is that we should be able to be only what we choose to be. Because we are so engrossed in these technology stories, our natural inclination is to turn the fantasy into a reality.

The Different Routes of Opposition

How can we use our intelligence to fight against this?

To begin, we have the ability to consciously organize our lives in such a way that gives priority to the people, experiences, and things that are grounded in the material world. The practice of morning devotions may appear to be archaic, yet it is a tradition that has been handed down from holy people who have witnessed its transformative effect. In a world full of fleeting things, God has given us words that will last forever to serve as an anchor, to convict us, and to console us.

We also have the option of consciously freeing our relationships from the confines of the digital realm. A phone conversation or lunch date brings us closer together than a direct message or a “Like.” After spending the day in front of a screen, we will feel far more refreshed by reading a good book or engaging in a hands-on pastime than we will by spending hours streaming content or skimming the web. We are put on the path of knowledge when we go outside without the purpose of using the experience to garner later praise on social media. This helps us to remember that the world that God created is much larger than our own minds can comprehend.

Second, we have the ability to consciously develop the habits of profound thinking and eloquent communication that are harmed by the Internet. Before the most recent news headline or theological controversy drives you to Google in search of quick reads you can use to jump into the fray, you might want to give some thought to spending a few weeks working through a book or meaty essay that will actually enlighten you. This will give you more time to reflect on the material and give you a better understanding of it. Redirect your efforts toward the kind of comprehension that is required by John’s high Christology or Paul’s precise theology, and resist the temptation to seek admiration by being the fastest, brightest, or most sarcastic online critic.

Finally, we may turn our attention to the more tangible steps that can be taken to ensure that the realm of the Internet continues to play a supporting role in the rhythms of our everyday lives. Andy Crouch, author of The Tech-Wise Family, recommends taking regular breaks from technology. These breaks should consist of at least one hour per day, one day per week, and one week per month, during which time you should consciously abstain from engaging in the most immersive and addictive online activities. In his book, “Digital Minimalism,” Cal Newport outlines a more stringent “digital detox” that can help us relearn which technologies genuinely support our ideals and which ones merely keep us hooked. This can help us remember which technologies actually serve our values. Find a strategy that is applicable to the stage of life that you and your family are currently experiencing and that will assist you in leaning more toward the counsel of God than the unreality of the internet.

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