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Technological Transformation

In a couple of weeks I am going to travel to Five Points Community Church in Auburn Hills, Michigan, to lead a Families & Technology Seminar. I will be speaking to the adults while my buddy Matt McAlvey, Pastor of Connections and Communications (say what?) at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, will be talking to the students. I have really enjoyed preparing for these talks, trying to understand and explain how technology has changed our lives and then looking at the effects of technology on family, church and Christian living. I am rapidly changing the way I view technology in general, and digital technology in particular.

The more I study, the more I see that the progress of technological transformation in the past century is nothing short of breathtaking. A little while ago I wrote just a little bit of text that has continued to be in my mind. I had just finished reading my children Little House in the Big Woods and had Laura Ingalls Wilder on my mind. You know her, I am sure. Her story highlights to me the remarkable transformation we’ve seen in the past century. Here is what I wrote:

She is one of America’s best-loved daughters. Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 in the big woods of Wisconsin. Her “Little House” series of books chronicle the life of a pioneer girl. And though we know now that much of what she wrote was semi-fictitious, at least when she describes the facts of her own life, she offers a fascinating glimpse into nineteenth century life. In one of her books she describes the long and arduous journey from Wisconsin to Walnut Grove, Minnesota and then on to Dakota Territory. This is a journey that took weeks, moving no faster than the pace of a team of plodding horses. For generations of young readers, Laura has been the very personification of pioneer life and pioneer spirit. She is the pioneer girl.

Though Laura was born a pioneer, she world she died in was vastly different.

Laura died in 1957, the same year that Russia launched a satellite (and a dog—why a dog?) into space. She died only four years before humans orbited the moon and only twelve years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. 1957 marked the dawn of the Jet Age with the first flight of the Boeing 707, an aircraft that could make the journey from Wisconsin to North Dakota in less than an hour and with 150 passengers on-board. The world she was born into ceased to exist long before she died.

It is amazing to me that a person could have lived through such amazing technological transformation and upheaval, to witness the birth of technology that must have changed, quite literally, everything she did. What a remarkable time we live in!

My study continues. Incidentally, if you are interested in having me lead a similar seminar at your church, I may be booking a few dates in the fall. Feel free to shoot me an email if you are interested.