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12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You Paperback – 30 April 2017
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About the Author
Tony Reinke is a journalist and serves as senior teacher and host of the Ask Pastor John podcast for desiringGod.org. He is the author of Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books; Competing Spectacles; and 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.
John Piper is founder and lead teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God; Don't Waste Your Life; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
- Publisher : Crossway Books (30 April 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1433552434
- ISBN-13 : 978-1433552434
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 1.42 x 21.59 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 147,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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According to Tony, our phones distract us, they push us to ignore flesh and blood people, they feed our craving for immediate approval, they undermine literary skills, they offer us a buffet of produced media, they distort our identity, they tempt us toward unhealthy isolation, they lure us to indulge in visual vices, they cause us to lose a sense of meaning and purpose, they feed our fear of missing out (FOMO), they cause us to treat one another severely and they make us oblivious to our place in time. In other words, they expose the dark and hidden idols of our hearts! They distance us from God, making Him irrelevant! As Tony puts it, “The more distracted we are digitally, the more displaced we become spiritually.” I will look at a few chapters that really stood out for me.
The chapter on distraction (chapter 1) brimmed with precious truth. In it, Tony argues that we use digital distractions to keep work away, people away and even thoughts of eternity away. He points out incisively that our digital addictions are often “welcomed addictions” - we want to be distracted on purpose! In the chapter on ignoring real people (chapter 2), he shows us that true joy is found in embodied fellowship, as opposed to disembodied interactions online (where anger is often the viral emotion on display). In the chapter on craving approval (chapter 3), he shows us why the approval and affirmation we seek online is oddly absurd. He gives two reasons: First, seeking approval from man makes faith pointless because faith seeks primary satisfaction in Christ. Second, our authenticity is not determined by man’s approval, but by God’s. He rightly says, “Those who feed on little nibbles of immediate approval from man will eternally starve. But those who aim their entire lives toward the glory and approval of God will find, in Christ, eternal approval.” In the chapter on losing our literacy (chapter 4), Tony reasons (through Oliver O’Donovan) that the digital age has shattered our concentration into a million pieces! Our short attention spans make deep reading tougher than ever. This, he points out is not illiteracy, but aliteracy – “a digital skimming that is simply an attempt to keep up with a deluge of information”, thus making it difficult to separate eternal treasures from transient ones. We however are called not to chronic scrolling, but deep lingering over eternal truths!
The chapter on loneliness (chapter 7) was another dark reminder of the persistent reality of the hyperconnected digital age. Tony’s words sting, “Our smartphones are portable shields we wield in public in order to deter human contact and interaction. When we step into an occupied elevator, we grab our phones like security blankets.” Ouch! He accurately points out that smartphones are causing a social reversal: we want to be alone in public but never alone in private! It’s tragic, but true! Profound insights in the chapter! In chapter 10, Tony looks at our most common fear – the fear of missing out (FOMO). It is a fear of disconnection and missing out on people’s personal affirmation of us, amplified all the more when we suffer or feel lonely. But this fear, he correctly points out, is nothing compared to the fear of eternally missing out. In Christ though, that sting is thankfully removed!
Does all this mean that we need to ditch our smartphones? That’s what Tony comes to in conclusion. “It is just as idolatrous to blaspheme a phone as it is to worship a phone…The solution is for us to wisely enjoy the smartphone - imaginatively, transcendentally, as something that should deepen wonder.” Tony calls for careful examination of our heart motives as we interact online. He calls for disciplined restraint and more importantly to use our phones for the glory of God. He calls us to be so deeply satisfied in Christ that the momentary pleasures of this life may fade in comparison to the eternal treasures found in Him!
This is such a wise, balanced and timely book. Chapter after chapter is intensely convicting and at times deeply disturbing. It was as if Tony was looking incisively into my heart, exposing my deep idols. This kind of rebuke is much needed though, and I am sure if combined with repentance and faith will produce heart transformation. Read this book and take Tony’s warnings to heart (I hope to do the same, though I know that I would need these reminders often). More importantly, let him guide you to reorient your affections and desires back to Christ and so find your joy in Him. To that end, I highly recommend the book to both young and old!
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