YOU DON’T HAVE to be an environmentalist to wonder about technology. Will it be our great savior or another thorn in the flesh, another opportunity to hear Thoreau’s lament about the tendency of humans to “become the tools of their tools”?
This excellent collection of prayers and worship materials, From the Psalms to the Cloud, helps us understand the tool of technology. It is a very green book while also being useful. It is green because it gives us a way out of the totalitarian world of the market and into a world that we make with words.
Just about everybody is on the other side of the “time famine” and the “trust famine” and deep into digital and connectivity overload. By time famine I mean the pervasive sense that there is not enough time to do what we want, so subjugated is our time to technology, forms, and robotic requests for information. By trust famine I mean all that time we spend worrying about time and wondering if somebody else is in charge. Are we in charge of our tools and our time or are our tools and time in charge of us?
In this optimistic book, the prophets arrive. Mankin and Tirabassi ask the right question: Can a technology devoted to advertising be useful to spirituality? They answer with a careful yes, taking us on the long road from the Psalms to Twitter, by way of “vintage wine in vintage wineskins, uncorked.” These two writers gather the wisdom of dozens of beautiful writers of prayers and liturgies and show us a way to go deep digitally. Whether they are praying for energy that will “deeply change all of our clocks,” or for the return of the time when churches giving sanctuary for immigrants will become again “dusty places with pews,” or in any of John Dannon’s exquisite doxologies for the natural and ecclesiastical seasons, or encouraging us to “spend a day saying nothing that doesn’t need saying.” The prayer topics move through addiction to pregnancy to a ritual for quitting a job. What a great ask this is for those confused or overdone with technology: We pray “for a trap door when we hit rock bottom.”