The CARE Organisation (Christian Action, Research and Education) has obviously thought this an important and relevant subject, because it has not only commissioned Nigel Cameron to write the book but has offered it at cut price to its supporters. As a non-smart-phone owner, this reviewer may perhaps make a claim to appraise the book objectively!
Cameron (a well-known theologian but evidently something of a geek as well) does not start out on a hostile or even a warning note. In fact half the book is given over to a description of how the digital revolution has come about and of its positive aspects. Chapter 12 (p82 and following) is headed "Thank you for the internet!" and lists ten of its key benefits (access to the world's info, free fast communication, university online, a megaphone for good causes, etc).
The book then moves on to the negative side, but without ringing too many alarm bells. Issues such as loss of privacy, security, effect on children and family life, and the pros and cons of social media are all discussed in a cool and rational manner, but perhaps with too little distinction between what governments ought to do by way of intervention and what it is up to individuals to do. Surprisingly little is said about the explosion of gaming and musical exposure, with their mind-blowing or mind-numbing possibilities. Quite deliberately, it seems, Cameron refuses to come up with a specifically Christian response – he appeals rather to common sense. Maybe this is why, in arguing for a media sabbath – a total abstention from the mobile for one day in the week – he bizarrely advocates adopting the Jewish Sabbath rather than Sunday.
This certainly is a book that needed to be written, and CARE is to be thanked for commissioning it. It is full of insights and challenges. Because of its subject matter it is bound to become dated quite quickly, but in the meantime it urgently deserves to be read.
This book is available to purchase from CARE.
Donald Mackay, Knox Church Perth