Item description for Christians in a .com World: Getting Connected Without Being Consumed (Focal Point Series) by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. & Chris Stamper...
Overview Love it or loathe it, the Internet is here to stay---and while millions of Christians have jumped "online," many others are still uneasy. Can believers use the Web without becoming entangled? In this thought-provoking volume, two cyberculture experts challenge Internet myths, probe its weaknesses, and assess the dangers and values of cyberspace.
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Studio: Crossway Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.58" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.51" Weight: 0.49 lbs.
Release Date Nov 21, 2000
Publisher Crossway Books/Good News
Series Focal Point
ISBN 1581342187 ISBN13 9781581342185
Availability 0 units.
More About Gene Edward Veith, Jr. & Chris Stamper
Gene Edward Veith Jr. (PhD, University of Kansas) is provost and professor of literature at Patrick Henry College and the director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary. He has been a columnist for World magazine and TableTalk, and is the author of a number of noted books on Christianity and culture, including God at Work.
Marvin Olasky (PhD, American Culture, University of Michigan) is the editor-in-chief of World Magazine. He has been interviewed numerous times by the national media as the developer of the concepts of compassionate conservatism and biblically objective journalism and is the author of twenty books.
Gene Edward Veith currently resides in Cedarburg, in the state of Wisconsin. Gene Edward Veith was born in 1951.
Gene Edward Veith has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Christians in a .com World: Getting Connected Without Being Consumed (Focal Point Series)?
Book Review: Christians in a .com World Aug 14, 2005
By Joshua Sowin
Like it or not, we live in a ".com" world. Everything has a .com-companies, clubs, churches, families-even individuals. Everything "real" seems to require a "virtual" counterpart. Those who do not have a virtual counterpart-for instance, a company-are curtly told to "get with it," and indeed, if they do not, their opportunities and resources to compete are quickly surpassed.
This creates a question for the thoughtful person, namely, how can we live in this virtual and image-saturated culture without being consumed by it? And that happens to be one of the reasons I read this book, as its subtitle suggests: "Getting Connected Without Being Consumed."
The book begins with a general introduction and an excellent historical overview of computers and the Internet. It separates this history into three chapters-the history of computers, networking, and the world wide web. I have read a number of brief histories on computers and the Internet, but this one tops them all. Concise and well-researched, the overview presented should be simple enough for the "uninitiated" to understand and informative enough for the "geeks" to enjoy.
Unfortunately, I did not find the rest of the book as impressive as the historical overview. Perhaps this was due to recently reading Mr. Veith's Reading Between the Lines, and thinking this work would be on par with that excellent book. If I did not have that expectation in mind, my impression of this book might have been quite different.
I believe most of my hopes were dashed on the high-tech rocks of technophilia. Veith and Stamper see through much of the hype of the Internet, but not all of it. Although the authors warn against technophilia, the book sometimes struck me as being exactly that. Consider the following excerpts (emphasis mine):
"No system for finding the best product at the best price has ever existed before in human history. Such a free economy is working exactly the way Adam Smith thought it would." (p. 10)
"Electronic publishing gives anyone a press. The competition for attention will be fierce. The book world will converge with the Web world. When the dust settles, what remains may not be one industry dominated by a handful of Manhattan-based monoliths but a true marketplace of ideas." (p. 92)
"On the whole [the Internet] should be good for Christians. The great theologians of the past-many of whom are now unavailable and out of print-can be rediscovered. Christian debate and discourse will not longer have to be filtered through the demands of commercialism. The Church, which often drifts wherever the culture leads, may be able to pull itself back together and recover its own identity as the people of God." (p. 152)
"A virtual community is still a kind of community. Modernism fragmented human relationships and undermined communal values, but the Internet, to a certain extent, can put some of them back together." (pp. 170-1)
Perhaps this is being too nitpicky. Scattered throughout the history and hype are many warnings and cautions, most of which people desperately need to hear and follow. For instance, the authors mention how the Internet "obscures the normal status markers, hierarchies, and authorities.... favors short bullets of information.... [and has much] information available [that is] brief, undeveloped, and ephemeral" (p. 137). However, although the bad is pointed out, the authors seem to believe that the good side will win. I question their conclusion.
There are also several inaccuracies in the book, two of which I will point out. The book asserts, "search engines do not discriminate about which sites are reliable-they list them all" (p. 137), which is an understandably incorrect misconception. First of all, search engines discriminate by the way they sort sites by pseudo-relevance. Second, they do not list sites that have requested not to be listed (personally or through a file on their website). Lastly, if you are in another country, search engines can (and do) discriminate against certain sites. For instance, MSN China recently blocked sites that contained words like "democracy" and "freedom."
The authors' explanation of Internet anonymity is also inaccurate. The authors state that, "ironically, though the Internet promises anonymity, this, like so much of cyberspace, is an illusion." That is correct, but not for the reason the authors identify:
"It provides a virtual anonymity that seems real but is not. The fact is, nearly everything ever done on a computer can be traced and found somewhere on the hard drive. Cookies leave their trail of electronic crumbs." (p. 143)
The problem is that anyone with basic computer knowledge can easily delete the history, cache, and cookies. The Internet lacks anonymity because of your ISP (Internet Service Provider). They have logs of everything you have accessed. You also have a unique IP address that accessed sites store in their logs along with a listing of every page (and image) you access. That is what gives the Internet its lack of anonymity, not cookies.
The authors correctly point out that the Internet is predominately centered around typography. Since Christianity is a religion of the Word, they argue, it only makes sense for Christians to latch on to this medium. However, the authors fail to realize (or at least fail to write about) why the Internet has been largely text-based: bandwidth limitations. More and more households are getting broadband, and as this happens, the Internet will become based less on text and more on imagery. We have already seen this effect through widespread use of Flash animations/videos, but it will only get worse. The Internet will become the new TV, only with more interactivity. CNN has recently provided free live streaming video through their website. This trend will continue, and people will end up watching TV (or something similar) through the Internet.
Overall, I think Christians in a .com World is a good book that Christians interested in technology should read. The historical overview is worth the price of the book by itself. However, if you are looking to know how to "get connected without being consumed" you will have to either draw your own conclusions or look to a different book.
If you're a web newbie - this book is for you! Jun 22, 2001
I finished _Christians in a .com World_ this week. The first part would be good for anyone not familiar with the net or who was vaguely familiar. I'm glad I read it, though I found it pretty dull, because it helped to put a historical context around some events and information that I already knew. The last part was good, though. It discussed how Christians could use the web for good and to re-introduce Christ and theology into modern culture and conversation. It also discussed how Christians should not use the web and reminded us that we should avoid temptations on the web as we do in our everyday - that we should set boundaries that police ourselves and our children. In other words - use discernment.
So, for you web-savvy folk who aren't interested too much in what e-mail is, the history of the computer, thoughts about community on the web (both the positives, the pitfalls, and the posibility of solitude), and the history of the web, I recommend that you definitely skip to Chapter 5 and read the discussions on the good and bad of the net and that you possibly skip all the way to the concluding section of Christianity Online. It seems a shame that a discussion of Christians in a .com World has to wait until the very last 32 pages to speak on that topic.
My final thoughts? Excellent tool for someone who knows little to nothing about computers or the web, kind of dull for someone who does.
Great Summary! Jun 1, 2001
Mr. Veith and Mr. Stamper do an excellent job of summarizing the cyber age and how it affects the Christian. If you haven't read their work in WORLD Magazine or other volumes, you are in for a real treat, as well as a strong challenge on the use of this developing technology for the cause of Christ.