Book Review: 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.

A Christian seeking to think through smartphone use, and indeed any social technology, would be well served to give this little book a thoughtful read.

Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. (2017: Crossway)

While it is common to find Christian books that fall short of, or meet their stated goals, It’s rare that I find one that transcends its own stated purpose. The clickbait-titled “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.” is one such book.

This may be a function of my own very low expectations on beginning the book, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find that, instead of being a string of barely related pseudo-facts, the book is a tightly reasoned, astute and solidly Biblical examination of the issues raised for Christians by the now near-ubiquitous use of smartphones.

While the book does actually match its title, and gives 12 things that happen to the Christian through their use and ownership of a phone, it does so with clear knowledge of the science, philosophy and cultural theory bearing on the subject. All of this knowledge is then brought under the direct tutelege of a consistent reading of scripture, providing a useful guide for Christians thinking through the use of mobile phones.

All of this is to simply say that the book meets its stated goal.

More than all of this, however, by being a biblically astute, thoughtful and honest examination of the themes of media in the smartphone age, it seems to do what Neil Postman did for media theory in his seminal work “Amusing Ourselves to Death”; it gives a model for thinking through the issues (though, spoiler alert, Reinke pointedly critique’s Postman’s views from a Christian perspective).

It remains to be seen if Tony Reinke’s work will match the longevity and use that Postman’s work received well after its release, and after the technology it spoke of has lost its cultural pride of place (the Biblically-oriented Christian community is much more of a niche market). However, a Christian seeking to think through smartphone use, and indeed any social technology, would be well served to give this little book a thoughtful read.

Recommended.

(Book Review) Nancy Pearcey trains Christians to think.

Nancy Pearcey, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism and Other God Substitutes, 2015, David C. Cook Publishing

With the cottage industry in Apologetics books coming out after the short-lived “New Atheist” revival of the early 21st century, it has become easy to find books at the local Christian bookstore dealing with “worldviews” and cataloguing the staggering number of “isms” associated with these worldviews.

While there is a great deal of value in being able to quickly label, and thus find information on, a given worldview when talking to people who have a different one, it can also become quickly intimidating for Christians to try and understand the massive number of different idea-systems out there, much less learn to effectively and lovingly talk to people who hold these worldviews without the crass oversimplification that has become endemic in western culture of late.

This is why Nancy Pearcey’s book is so refreshing. While it does include a great many good responses to actual worldviews, they are only as examples in the main point of the book; a system for Christians to deconstruct other worldviews from a Christian perspective. Following in the vein of Greg Koukl’s influential, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, Finding Truth is less a listing of other people’s ideas and why they’re wrong, as it is a practical manual for understanding worldviews accurately and ideally without oversimplification.

Using principles gleaned from Romans 1, Pearcey helps the Christian reader to first look at what other people actually believe, and then to think through what the other worldview finds as central, and finally to positively and negatively critique the worldview. This is done in a way that avoids both the error of identifying so much with non-Christian worldviews as to simply capitulate to them, and the (decidedly unchristian) error of imagining that every non-believer is simply dumb.

Where other books on the topic of worldview throw the answers at you, Pearcey trains the reader to seek the answers in the interaction of the worldview in question, and the truth of the word of God. Instead of giving you fish, she trains you to fish. This book will be very useful, both to the trained apologist, and to the average Christian as we navigate the world around us, whether the fashions of thinking remain secularism, or shift to something else. Very highly recommended.