May wasn’t a red letter month for me and reading. While I read a couple of books, nothing I ran across seemed to captivate me. The topics were lackluster and perfunctory. I’m sure umpiring 23 games in 30 days had something to do with this malaise.
June hints at hope that I’ve found some new reading choices that will once again reignite my passion for the written word. Great books always do that for me. Better, deep thinkers and prolific authors proffer up a plethora of new options.
I’ve mentioned Neil Postman countless times before. His books critiquing television as well as the power of a medium to affect its message have framed my thinking on the topic. Postman also introduced me to Jacques Ellul, the French polymath.
While searching for someone or one book to kick start my reading heading into the summer months, I learned that no one’s ever written a biography on this intellectual giant of the 20th century. The closest I could come was a book offering up a comprehensive overview of his life and writing (he wrote more than 50 books and over 1,000 articles). This work, written by three Wheaton College (the Illinois-based school) professors, is called Understanding Jacques Ellul.
I’m sure I’ll have much more to share and summarize as I work my way through Ellul in June. For today, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts on technology, which might be the topic Ellul was best-known for tackling. His The Technological Society was a best-seller and brought him notoriety on both sides of the Atlantic.
The tour-de-force on the dangers of technology, with the capacity to wrap its tentacles around every aspect of our existence, was written in 1954. Talk about being prescient.
Writing long before our culture became obsessed with touchscreens and friends on Facebook, Ellul offered a concern that when read today seems prophetic—the idea that technology would bring about the dehumanization of mankind, totally given over to an alien, technological mindset.
In my own life, I’m finding the need to disconnect from much of the social media landscape and its virtual surrogates. Ellul seems like the ideal docent for that journey.