Fr. Josiah Trenham, Ph.D.
Fr. Peter Heers, D.Th.
and Mark Tarpley, Ph.D.
for the 2019 Saint Kosmas West Conference
How Technology Reaches Deeper Than We Think
We like to think that modern technology is only a tool that assists man in his daily tasks, making life more efficient and simple. Such an approach to modern technology, however, is naïve at best. It is not merely how we use a technology, but the fact that we use the technology at all that forms how we conduct our daily lives. Without attending to the more subtle ways technology alters our lives, we miss the deeper implications of how technology forms behavioral habits, develops addictions, impacts the neurological wiring of our brains, transforms our use of language, resituates our concepts of time and space, and redefines how we understand human relationships, just to name a few. In short, modern technology has the capacity to enter into every part of our lives and transform it. But why is technology able to reach so deep into our lives, and why are we so willing to invite it uncritically into our lives? Join Dr. Mark Tarpley as he unlocks some of these deeper questions regarding modern technology within the context of our daily lives.
Instructing Our Children On Understanding Technology in the World Today
Helping our children understand the world of technology today requires more than creating a list of do’s and don’ts about the uses and dangers of technology. We have to support our children in understanding the historical and philosophical context in which our technological world has given birth in an accessible and easy to understand way. In doing so, they can begin to make sense of the technological world around them and become more discerning as Orthodox Christians in their approach to technology. This session is for homeschooling families, classroom teachers, youth workers, and those wanting to know how to talk to our youth in a meaningful and engaging way about technology in the world today.
Technology and Addiction: Seeking Freedom in Christ in a Consumerist Society
We live in a consumerist society in which addictions of all kinds are widespread, and our enslavement to digital media such as the smartphone is no exception. Yet, the gospel calls us to a life of self-denial for the sake of Christ in order to find true freedom. In this session, Fr. Josiah Trenham will reflect on the challenge of technological addiction in our lives today and how the medium of today’s digital screens itself pushes us towards addiction to our devices. It is not enough to simply “use the tool” the right way. We must go deeper in considering the purpose and design of the digital screens in relationship to the internet in assessing the issue of addiction and technology.
Technology and Distraction: Seeking Wholeness in a Fragmented World
The fact that Americans are distracted by technology is no secret. Texting and driving, faces down in restaurants and public events, and the statistics on usage of social media platforms tell the story. What we do not think about as much in our society is how digital media is specifically designed to capture our attention in order to scatter our attention. Digital media is built to keep our hands and minds on the move, surfing from one click to the next. The impact on our daily living is deeper than we think. This session will look at how the medium of digital screens is designed for distraction and how this reality impacts all levels of our lives from basic personal engagement all the way to our ability to pray.
Technology and Conversation: Facing Up to the Challenge
We are connected, but we have no community. We are together, and yet, we are isolated. We hear and see more tragic events through media outlets then ever before, and yet, our empathy towards others is declining. We have more “friends,” and we “know” more people, and yet, the intimacy of our relationships is shallower than ever. Our communication has become disembodied, brief, and shallow, and our personal relationships are suffering and left unfulfilled. This session takes a hard look at the realities of communication today, how they are challenging our humanity, and why patient, sustained, face-to-face conversations are so fundamental to persevering in our Orthodox faith in the modern world.
Technology and Daily Living: What Should We Do?
Even if we recognize the depths with which technology can impact our lives, the question of “What should we do?” still looms as a serious question before us. Finding a path forward is complicated to say the least, especially when it seems those around us embrace every new technological advancement available, pressuring us to conform. As Orthodox Christians, we have a rich and living tradition that offers us a unique path forward in how to address the day-to-day with respect to technology. Rules are not enough. Our approach to technology requires a Patristic mindset. This session offers concrete and practical steps in how we should address technology in our daily lives from an Orthodox Christian perspective.