The E-book Crisis and Political Christianity

By Caleb Keith

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I am technologically progressive. I encourage advancements in technology. I enjoy improvement and sometimes I want old ways of doing things to die off. For instance, I hate DVDs and CDs. I think that both of these outdated technologies are crude, limited, and useless since the advent of digital media. On the other hand, there are certain technological advancements I despise, and concerning some things I prefer the old ways of doing things. I can’t stand driver assist technologies in cars, and when I bought my car I insisted that it be a manual. This is because at the root of it all my love of technology isn’t about progression but about things just working well. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it, but if it is broke fix that shit ASAP.

The biggest conflict I come across when it comes to either “adapt to new” technologies or “stick to the classic” approach is whether to use paper books and notes or their digital counterparts. With school starting back up in just a matter of weeks, it is time again for me to buy books. Each book will be a mental debate as to whether I go paper or digital. I ponder things like…which one costs less? Do I see myself reading this book more than once? Is the class general education or for my major? These are the deciding factors. Because when it comes to books, I don’t care if they are either digital or paper, just how they work. Paper books are heavy, damageable and often more expensive. E-books suck for taking notes and highlighting, additionally they don’t capture my attention well. Even though I want heavy paper books to be a thing of the past, I find myself always coming back to them. Anytime I think that I will read a book more than once, or anytime I want to write notes in the margins, I will choose paper. When it comes to textbooks or novels, digital is the clear winner, being both lighter and cheaper.

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My views regarding politics seem to mirror my e-book crisis. You see, no one particular view just works. Liberals care about social justice and the environment, but advocate for the slaughter of unborn children. Conservatives fight for financial responsibility and national security, but are often warmongers. Both groups have clear benefits, but both also fight for atrocities and evils. Because of this I find it deeply troubling when the church, and Christians alike, directly correlate the values of the church to one political party. Civic law is not God’s Law. The constitution is not equivalent to the Ten Commandments. The Word of God just works and politics doesn’t. This is why things like the legalization of homosexual marriage, government funding for abortions, and the ever-increasing police state (while atrocious) shouldn’t be a surprise. This is also why the church should not associate itself with any particular political view.

I can’t favor digital books over paper ones, as they each have a time and place where they ought to be used. Similarly the church ought not stand with one political view, but rather focus on serving its mission across the political spectrum. When the church stands with a political view, it opens itself up to being dragged through the mud with the rest of the political garbage. The church’s operating paradigm shouldn’t be conservative, it shouldn’t be liberal, but it should be focused on what all of Scripture points to; the death and resurrection of Christ as our Savior. How then should the church deal with atrocities like abortion, social injustice, and war? The only answer I see is through more clearly teaching the idea of vocation. Vocation is the role and duties in life we have been called to as Christians. Each person has several vocations that may change or transition throughout life. I have a vocation as a student, as a husband, as a son, as an employee, and even as a citizen. As citizens we are called to speak out, obey the laws, and to even vote. It is not the church’s job to lobby, make laws, or vote. Instead that duty is passed on to its members. Those members can be conservative, liberal, or something in between. How they speak or vote is not a representation of the church, but rather is a representation of how one’s faith informs their worldview. The church needs to preach Christ, without taking a stand on every political situation. Christ, unlike digital and paper books, and unlike politics, just works. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.

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