Meeting the Rule of Technology with Counterpractices

From Albert Borgmann’s Power Failure:

“… for a long time time to come technology will constitute the common rule of life.  The Christian reaction to that rule should not be rejection but restraint … But since technology as a way of life is so pervasive, so well entrenched, and so concealed in its quotidianity, Christians must meet the rule of technology with a deliberate and regular counterpractice.

Therefore, a radical theology of technology must finally become a practical theology, one that first makes room and then makes way for a Christian practice.  Here we must consider again the ancient senses of theology, the senses that extend from reflection to prayer.  We must also recover the ascetic tradition of practice and discipline and ask how the ascesis of being still and solitary in meditation is related to the practice of being communally engaged in the breaking of the bread.  The passage through technology discloses a new or an ancient splendor in ascesis.  There is no duress or denial in ascetic Christianity.  On the contrary, liberating us from the indolence and shallowness of technology, it opens to us the festive engagement with life.”

The crucial insight here, for Christians and non-Christians alike, is the necessity of formulating deliberate and intentional counterpractices.  It is not enough to merely desire or will to live well with technology.  The “rule of technology” engraves itself on us by shaping the routines and habits of daily life so that it is both pervasive and unnoticed. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu, Jamie Smith makes a similar point in a recent blog post:

But as Pierre Bourdieu would emphasize, such “micropractices” have macro effects: what might appear to be inconsequential micro habits are, in fact, disciplinary formations that begin to reconfigure our relation to the wider world–indeed, they begin to make that world. As Bourdieu puts it in The Logic of Practice, “The cunning of pedagogic reason lies precisely in the fact that it manages to extort what is essential while seeming to demand the insignificant” (p. 69).

The force of such habituated, world-making practices and micro-practices must be met with counterpractices.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s