Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: The Next Story by Tim Challies

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I've followed Tim's blog for a couple years and have always connected with the way his mind thinks, what he thinks about, and his love for God in his writing. So when he released The Next Story last year, I immediately put it on my list of books to read. I was a little unsure as to whether his writing would translate the same way in book form as on his blog, but I can confidently say that it exceeded my expectations.

The Next Story is about how today's digital world has permeated our lives in many different ways, from the wristwatch to the iPhone, and how we should think about all these forms of technology from a biblical perspective. Needless to say, I don't think there's a more relevant subject matter for Christians - particularly the younger generation and people who find themselves "connected" in more ways than one.

There are many strengths I could speak of in this book. One of them is the historical perspective Challies takes on many different aspects of technology. For example, he looks back at how taking time with you in the form of a pocketwatch revolutionized how people related in the world. Instead of being engaged in the immediate (present), people became more aware of the past and the future, living in them above living in the moment because of this awareness and accountability of time being mobile. With this approach, Challies presents the unintentional - both positive and negative - effects of technology.

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One of the points Challies addressed in this book that impacted me the most was his explanation of "media." He described it as anything that is mediated - rather than allowing people to connect directly, media becomes something that acts as a go-between so that messages are intercepted by the medium and delivered to its intended receiver. Now, this seems pretty obvious, especially since we've had email for years now. But have you ever stopped to think about the impact email mediating conversations has on communication and relationships? If you've ever used email, I'm sure you've had many instances where something that was communicated via email was misunderstood or misinterpreted. Challies identifies the medium, email in this case, as the culprit, and argues that we need to consider when and how we allow technology to mediate our communication and relationships with one another. This has had a profound effect on how I interact with technology, and I've found myself preferring to make calls above texting or emailing, which I'd previously preferred.

Application is another great strength of  The Next Story . Challies took great effort not just to philosophize about technology but to give guidance about how his critical thinking could be applied practically. At the end of each chapter he provides a section specifically for application to get you thinking personally about your own use of technology. I found this very helpful and a valuable use of space in the book.

I could write more but he did such a great job in his book that I'm going to limit my review here and recommend you pick it up and read it for yourself. I was able to find it at the library (which I often do for books so I can decide if it's worth purchasing) but I can say that it's worth dropping a Hamilton on [Kindle edition]. In fact, you might want to opt for a $20 instead to buy two and give one to a friend. And while you're at it, consider subscribing to his blog as well.

You can follow Tim Challies on Twitter and Like him on Facebook.


Are you Homeward Bound? said...

I couldn't agree with you more. God bless you Aaron.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this encouraging review brother!

Aaron said...

Thanks for visiting, guys! It's always nice to hear from other readers and get feedback.

Lori Shultz said...

I read The Next Story and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is full of Biblical insight and wisdom. I am trying to go internetless on Sundays as a result. I'm looking forward to reading another one of his books.

Aaron said...

I totally agree, Lori. I hadn't considered going internetless on Sundays until Tim mentioned it recently in a blog post. I'd love to hear about how your journey with that goes if you'd like to write me to let me know. I'm sure I can glean some wisdom and helpful tips from your experiences that would help with mine!

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