Jeff Haanen

Category

Technology

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Faith and Work Bible Study

Friends, a happy Labor Day to you!

To celebrate your work, I wanted to give you a gift: a free Bible study on Faith and Work.

The study is structured around people’s stories. In a series of articles, I highlighted the way people are living out their faith in the workplace.

Each study has a brief story Bible study participants can read at home. After each article, and before the study, we encourage you to Pause and Reflect on what the story might be telling you about God’s call for your own work.

The Bible study is structured around six sections: Introduce, Discuss, Explore, Apply, Closing Thoughts, and Prayer. It also has additional Resources.

Here are the weekly topics for “His Story, Our Stories: Encountering God Through Our Work”:

(1) “Light for Electricians,” (Creation)

(2) “Investments for the Kingdom” (Calling)

(3) “Showing Hospitality to Strangers and Spring Breakers” (Fall)

(4) “Productivity and Grace: Management and Labor at a Denver Manufacturer,” (Witness at Work)

(5) “A Well-Designed Journal Can Change Your Life,” (Culture)

(6) “A Growing Charter School Planted in Rocky Soil,” (Organizations/Companies)

Enjoy!

Looking for more material? Visit Scatter.org.

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EconomyTechnologyWork

Your Smartphone is Neither a Cancer nor a Cure-All

A balanced, biblical take on the devices we can’t seem to live without.

I remember the day I got my first smartphone. Upgrading from a “dumb phone,” I was dazzled. Crisp and clear pictures. Email and calendar in one place. Ready access to Twitter, Facebook, and any search engine I wanted. In the words of the AT&T ad, I could now “move at the speed of instantly.”

But as the months went on, I realized my smartphone was not a neutral tool that would leave my life unaffected. My days started to change—sometimes drastically. It began with email. I started checking it almost obsessively. Wake up, turn over, check email. Get coffee, check email. My daughter would ask a question. “Hold on, honey, I’m just finishing this email.”

Then came social media. I could now post pictures directly to Facebook. Yet rarely did I consider whether my 300 “friends” needed to see my weekend family adventures. Twitter became my news source. Even though I clicked on dozens of articles, I noticed I never read them through. My thoughts started to fragment into smaller and smaller pieces. Oddly enough, even though I now held the key in my hand to unparalleled productivity, at the end of the work day I felt a new level of exhaustion.

Tony Reinke’s new book, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You, makes explicit what many of us feel bubbling under the surface: quietly, subtly, our phones are changing us.

Reinke catalogues the quiet catastrophe he believes our phones are causing. For instance:

We’re distracted. We check our smartphone 85,000 times a year, or once every 4.3 minutes.

We’re a hazard to others. Texting and driving makes us 23 times more likely to get in a car accident.

We crave approval. Each social media moment is another scene in our “incessant autobiography.”

We idolize celebrity. Our attention drifts from the eternal toward the latest headlines and gossip.

We become lonely. “Technology is drawing us apart, by design. We feel the sting of loneliness in the middle of online connectedness,” Reinke says.

We get lost in the digital noise. The average daily social media and email output is larger than the Library of Congress.

We lose track of time. The wonder of people, plants, nature, and art—even God himself—gets lost in the whirl of “urgent” notifications.

All in all, Reinke makes an admirable attempt at bringing theology to bear on our digital devices. Snarky remarks on Facebook proliferate, but Scripture calls us to steer clear of slander and honor others with our words (James 4:11–12; Eph. 4:29). We seek approval from social media, but true approval comes from God (Rom. 2:29). We struggle with “fear of missing out,” or “FOMO,” yet the scope of eternity dramatically reframes our perspective (Luke 16:19–31).

After reading the book, I felt like I had a digital cancer growing in my pocket. Each chapter builds on what smartphones are allegedly doing to us: creating isolation, distraction, addiction, idolatry, and a host of other ills. Less-than-inspiring subtitles abound: “FOMO in the Grave,” “Junk Food for the Soul,” “Technology and Isolation.”

Perspectives on technology generally gravitate toward one of two poles. Instrumentalism says technology is just a neutral tool, an “instrument.” The popular phrase “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people” expresses this view. Technological determinism, however, says that technology is an unstoppable force shaping society—and each of us. The machines are out of control and must be resisted, lest we end up like the human drones of The Matrix.

We miss the point if we become either pro- or anti-technology. Instead, liberation from our smartphones (and all our technology) is best summed up by the psalmist: “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts” (119:45). In contrast to the American view of freedom—essentially, lack of restraint on individual choice—the Bible sees true freedom as a matter of living within proper boundaries.

The redeeming gem of Reinke’s book is found in asking readers to define those boundaries. After reading a list of 12 questions under the heading “Should I Ditch My Smartphone?,” I asked myself, What do I really need my phone for?

As I began deleting apps and setting new boundaries, I found myself catching an appealing vision of a better—and slower—life. And my phone once again became just a tool, to be used like all good things given by God (James 1:17).

This book review first appeared at christianitytoday.com. Photo credit

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Announcement: Launch of the 5280 Fellowship

Today is a big day.

Today my colleagues and I at Denver Institute for Faith & Work, in partnership with Gordon College, announce the launch of the 5280 Fellowship, a 9 month experience for emerging leaders beginning in the fall of 2016.

After years of planning, design and forging partnerships, each element of the program has fallen into place. And now what we are now offering is, I believe, one of the best faith-based fellowship programs in the US, and perhaps Denver’s premiere leadership experience for young professionals.

I know those are big claims. But I believe the 5280 Fellowship has the potential to deeply impact Denver for generations to come. And I’m not alone.

Some of Denver’s finest pastors – like Robert Gelinas (Colorado Community Church), Brad Strait (Cherry Creek Presbyterian), Rob Brendle (Denver United), Brian Brown (Park Church) and Hunter Beaumont (Fellowship Denver) – believe the Fellowship can be a life-changing experience for young professionals who want to deeply engage themes of calling, work, and culture.

Young professionals like Steven Strott (Cool Planet Energy Systems) and Amy Wofford (The Commons at Champa) see the value of connecting to a community of faithful leaders in Denver and articulate how important work is to the flourishing of a city.

And Dr. Michael Lindsay, the president of Gordon College who has deeply studied the world’s most effective leadership program, the White House Fellowship, believes this program, which has been modeled largely on his research, will give young professionals:

  • “deep relationships that span the city,”
  • a vision for how “the gospel provides a kind of connective tissue, helping us to see how does science and technology relate to the arts and entertainment,”
  • and a “catalyst in your career for the prospering not only of the wider culture, but also your life.”

Needless to say, if you’re asking big questions about the role of Christians in culture; if you’re interested in the relevance of the gospel to all of life; if you’re wondering about your own calling; and if you’re up for a challenge that could catalyze your career — then I encourage you to learn more at an upcoming info session.

Some of you may also be interested why we built the program as we did. On this blog, over the next several weeks, I’d like to peel back the veil on the principles underlying the Fellowship and why we built the program as we did. Blog posts will cover topics like:

  • Why Some Doctors Read the History of Opera: Leadership and Liberal Arts Thinking
  • EQ: Why Being a Good Conversationalist Might Be More Important Than an MBA
  • Why Nothing Before Age 20 Matters (And Why Your 20s-40s are the Most Critical to Career Success)
  • Calling: Learning to Listen to the Caller
  • Spelunking, Cave Formations and Culture Change
  • Our Common Longing: Meaningful Work
  • The Church in the World: Reformation, not Revolution
  • The Future of Higher Education: Friendships and the Information Deluge
  • The Golden Web: Mentors, Networks, and the Hidden Leadership Curriculum
  • Mission: Larger Than A Two Week Trip Overseas
  • Scattered: Being the Church Monday-Saturday
  • Significant Work: Developing a Taste for Tackling Big Problems

The launch of any new educational experience is really just the beginning of a conversation. This is a conversation on what it means to be fully human in this time and this place. I’d like to take the chance to invite you into this community.

I’d love to hear any and all feedback as the conversation grows. I hope you’ll consider joining me on this adventure into our own souls, the life of our city, and the heart of God.

TechnologyVideo

Interview with John Dyer

 

John Dyer is coming for the Faith & Technology Forum on Thursday! A couple weeks ago I did a brief Skype interview with John on his book From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology.

Even though I struggled to get the Skype recorder working (I apologize for the slow frame speed), John was gracious as we re-recorded the brief interview several times. Here are the questions I asked:

  1. First, how would you define technology?
  1. So, we shape our tools – our technology – but they also shape us. In one chapter, you discuss how different mediums of digital communication – like phone calls, Tweeting, blogs, or texting – actually shape our thinking. How does this work?
  1. Many see that technology is not just a neutral tool. But on the other side, some say technology itself is a determining force and shapes culture almost in spite of human beings. What’s your view on this?
  1. What can the Bible – the Christian story – contribute to our understanding of technology?
  1. You’re a coder and web developer. You live and breathe digital technology. What kind of questions do you ask yourself to evaluate the effect of a particular technology – perhaps even one you’re designing – on human life?

I’m looking forward to meeting John in person on Thursday evening in Boulder. In addition to John’s presentation we’ll have an additional special presentation by Eric Swanson of Leadership Network and a panel discussion with Dave Carlson, CEO of Shopventory, Patrick Riley of Global Accelerator Network, and Will Forsythe, Pastor of All Souls Boulder. We look forward to discussing everything from how to take Sabbath rests from technology to whether or not Google really can solve death.

See you there. (If you don’t yet have tickets, you really should. They come with food, drink and a book – not to mention the opportunity to listen to some pretty interesting folks. You can buy them here.)

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CultureTechnology

Questioning the local gods

 

I wonder if each city has its own god.

The idea was rather common in the ancient world. Many first century Jews believed demons ruled entire cities. Pagans too believed in local deities. In Ephesus, the mother goddess Artemis ruled supreme. When she was challenged, it was seen as a challenge to the well-being of the city (Acts 19:26-28).

But local gods reigning over a city? Surely we’ve grown out of such myths, haven’t we?

Two weeks ago it snowed in Denver. The forecasters predicted 8-12 inches (which turned out to be a drastically generous estimation). High winds, close to no visibility. Stores were closing; churches canceled services. Stay home. It’s the obvious choice. But many Denverites did the opposite. SUVs were warmed up, skiis and snowboards were strapped to the top rack, and true Coloradoans braved the weather to shred some fresh powder, blizzard and all. The mountains called. And we answered – dutifully, faithfully, bravely.

It’s no secret that Denver is a city defined by the Rocky Mountains. Our culture has been defined by the outdoors. Everybody does triathlons here. Even me. Biking, camping, skiiing, running. I even have friends who do the “Tough Mudder” – a romp through the mud to show your Spartan spirit. Our 300 days of sun a year shape more than our interests. They shape our very being.

Several friends and I speculate about the culture of Colorado. What is ultimate to these people? The earth? That would be Boulder. The individual? We certainly are a state of cowboys. But what, or who, really reigns here? The purple mountains majesty, of course. We live for recreation – for the weekend.

How does this influence our view of work? Everybody moves to New York to work. But nobody moves to Denver to work; they move here to play. Yes, put in your hours, but ultimately its about finding a villa, a latte, and a black diamond run with some fresh snow.

But how can we determine if something good (ie God’s creation) has become something ultimate? The best definition of a god I’ve found comes from philosopher Neil Postman. In his book The End of Education, he points out how easily teachers are swayed by the “god of Technology.”

“At some point it becomes far from asinine to speak of the god of Technology – in the sense that people believe technology works, that they rely on it, that it makes promises, that they are bereft when denied access to it , that they are delighted when they are in its presence, that for most people it works in mysterious ways, that they condemn people who speak against it, that they stand in awe of it, and that, in the born-again mode, they will alter their lifestyles, their schedules, their habits and their relationships to accommodate it. If this is not a form of religious belief, what is?”

Postman is not only writing for Silicon Valley here. In Denver, to what extent do we rely on nature, stand in awe of it, condemn those who speak against it, marvel in its presence, and alter our “lifestyles, schedules, habits and relationships to accommodate it?” When church planters come to Denver, they learn quickly that they start services on Sunday night, not Sunday morning, because that’s when Denverites return from the mountains.

Questioning loyalty to the local gods is awfully unpopular. Easier to work around them. Far easier yet to believe that we’ve grown out of silly, ancient myths of gods ruling over entire cities.

Discussion question: What are the gods of your city?