Reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.
Have you come to prize the importance of journeying sufficiently far from home? To illustrate negatively, do you not bristle at the thought of a privileged young woman, growing up in a mansion, residing in an exclusive suburban neighborhood, attending posh private schools, who never leaves her comfortable surroundings? Would not this woman be aided by the experience of volunteering to scoop soup at a rescue mission, or by distributing medical supplies to refugees in a war torn country overseas, or something? If this member of the privileged class never leaves her comfort zone—never witnesses poverty and suffering firsthand—will she not nurse in her mind a distorted view of the world?
Conversely, consider a poverty stricken inner-city youth whose neighborhood is crawling with vice and whose chances of ever leaving his environment are bleak. Do we not readily commend the opportunity for such a youth to visit a rural farm or to attend a youth retreat in the Rockies, or something of the sort?
"I wonder, what's the reading level of Hebrews? We see in this warning that the writer had to condescend to a lower level of teaching than he wanted. And yet I think many of us today would agree that Hebrews is very meaty. This should cause us to stop and evaluate whether we are growing in our knowledge of the Lord." Ref21
Changes in technology also bring other kinds of changes. Technologies shape the way that people envision reality. They help to form or dismantle social relationships. They either reinforce or erode cultures.
Much of what conservatives—including me—say and write about technology focuses on its unintended consequences, many of which are negative. We feel an obligation to point out how our new toys often serve to diminish our humanity. The naïve deployment of new technologies heedless of their unintended consequences can produce disastrous results.
No one can deny, however, that technologies also bring benefits—sometimes spectacular benefits. Occasionally, even we conservatives feel inclined to point out the benefits of a technological advance when it really is an advance. The recognition of these benefits and the willingness to enjoy them is one of the factors that distinguish conservatives from mere Luddites.
Electronic books are such an advance. Because print books are physical objects, they are both bulky and spatially fixed. Not only do they take up room on a shelf, but they can occupy only one shelf (or desk, or hand) at a time. These are just the limitations that make electronic books better by whole orders of magnitude.