“The garden was only a beginning. The goal was a globe of technological advancement, leading to a creation so refined that the city streets will be paved thick with crystal gold, a creation so radiant and luminescent that we can hardly imagine what it will look like in the end. So when Adam and Eve awoke and walked into the garden, an unseen, much larger plan was also set in motion. The untilled garden would become a glorious city.”
Reinke has met our need for a seriously well-researched and wisely processed book on technology in a spectacular way. O that there was more written like it! In a book that not only could have been embarrassingly off-trend, but embarrassingly superficial by being summarised as “gouge out your eyes and do not watch porn”, instead we have something far richer, more comprehensive and more penetrating. Reinke deeply understands the root of our technological behaviour, and so 12 Ways your Phone is Changing You shines.
Part of its beauty is in Reinke’s aim to toe the line between technophile and technophobe, which, largely, he accomplishes. Although artistically written (and it is much better for it), the level of specificity and precision that 12 Ways your Phone is Changing You enjoys is exceptional. Rather than floundering around in easy and ambiguous Christian slogans like “glorify God with your phone”, Reinke explores exactly what this looks like (with often surprising and imaginative application), without once feeling amusing or gimmicky. He is entirely unashamed, when it is called for, to bring his incredible insight to bear on non-technological practical issues surrounding the topic. His repeated refrain that technology is not limited to smartphones, but extends to all of our manipulating creation, is easily forgotten and to be warmly welcomed. So thoughtful is Reinke that the book is even chiasmic in structure to point to Jesus’s summary of the Law; the two central Ways reflect loving the Lord our God and our neighbour respectively.
Perhaps the only criticism to be levelled at 12 Ways your Phone is Changing You is that it favours the technophobe and offers little positive suggestion for how to use one’s phone to the glory of God. However, this can be countered in two ways; first, Reinke’s digging for the heart exhorts the reader to engage with her own creativity, second, the Christian culture we find ourselves in is one leaning toward mindless consumption rather than deep suspicion.
I genuinely recommend this book to everybody. I do so regardless of whether the reader is a smartphone user or not; there is enough discernment here to do all of us good. Reinke himself challenges some to ditch their smartphones and some to buy a smartphone. And that is a special insight from a special book.