Within a few years of its unveiling, the smartphone had become part of us, fully integrated into the daily patterns of our lives. Never offline, always within reach, we now wield in our hands a magic wand of technological power we have only begun to grasp. But it raises new enigmas, too. Even though we're more connected, we seem to be growing more distant. Never more efficient, we have never been more distracted.
Drawing from the insights of numerous thinkers, published studies, and his own research, Tony Reinke identifies twelve potent ways our smartphones have changed us - for good and bad. Reinke calls us to cultivate wise thinking and healthy habits in the digital age - encouraging us to maximise the many blessings, avoid the various pitfalls, and wisely wield the most powerful gadget of human connection ever unleashed.
"For many, the phone is an object of increasing anxiety, exhaustion, and dependency... If you want to know how to steward your technology and your life for Christ and his kingdom, read this."
-- Russell D. Moore, president, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
We live in a world full of shiny distractions, faced with an onslaught of viral media constantly competing for our attention and demanding our affections. These ever-present visual “spectacles” can quickly erode our hearts, making it more difficult than ever to walk through life actively treasuring that which is most important and yet invisible: Jesus Christ. In a journalistic style, Tony Reinke shows us just how distracting these spectacles in our lives have become and calls us to ask critical questions about what we’re focusing on. The book offers us practical steps to redirect our gaze away from the addictive eye candy of the world and onto the Ultimate Spectacle—leading to the joy and rest our souls crave.
“Tony Reinke has the prophetic knack of helping us see the truth about ourselves and our world. In these pages—as illuminating as they are disturbing and challenging—he stands in the tradition of the spiritual masters who have understood that the city of man’s—and woman’s—soul is often attacked and destroyed through eye-gate. ButCompeting Spectaclesnot only diagnoses our distorted vision; it prescribes spectacles that give us twenty-twenty spiritual vision. Essential reading.”
--- Sinclair B. Ferguson,Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary; Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries
“How to navigate the Christian life in a media-saturated culture feels more confusing than ever. Tony Reinke provides a dose of desperately needed clarity. Combining careful research with relevant application, this book is for anyone who wants to be more discerning and critically engaged in our culture—which should be every Christian!”
--- Jaquelle Crowe, author, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years
Whether it's TV boxsets, Instagram stories or historical novels, we all consume culture. So it’s important that we are neither bewitched by it—buying into everything it tells us—or bewildered by it—lashing out in judgment or retreating into a Christian bubble.
Dan Strange encourages Christians to engage with everything they watch, read and play in a positive and discerning way. He also teaches Christians how to think and speak about culture in a way that plugs in to a bigger and better reality—the story of King Jesus, and his cosmic plan for the world.
It’s possible to watch TV and read novels and play video games in a way that actually feeds our faith, rather than withers it. It’s even possible for you—yes, you—to be that person who starts off talking to a mate about last night’s football and ends up talking about Jesus.
So be equipped to engage with culture and use it for God.
Introduction: Faith in an age of information overload
1. What culture is and why you should care
2. The story of culture
3. Culture as story
4. “Can I watch…?”
5. Confronting and connecting with culture: the theory
6. Confronting and connecting with culture: the practice
7. Your turn: Cultural engagement for disciples
8. Here's some I prepared earlier...
We all spend hours each week watching, reading and listening. Not only does this add up to a significant proportion of our lives, but it’s also a big influence on how we think and behave. So it’s vital we think about how being a Christian shapes the way we interact with the culture around us and I know of no better guide than Plugged In. Dan Strange provides both a biblical framework and practical nuts-and-bolts tools. But Plugged In goes further, for it shows how culture can be a great starting point for speaking of Christ with our friends and colleagues. I warmly commend it.
--- Dr Tim Chester, Faculty member of Crosslands Training and author of Enjoying God