What Shane Claiborne Told Me To Read When I Said I Covet an IPhone

Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase
After Shane's (very well-received) talk at Girdwood Chapel tonight, I asked him about the use of technology and, specifically, the iPhone...which I am tempted to purchase and which my wife (who keeps bringing up Claiborne's book The Irresistible Revolution) says I really don't need.  He told me I should come up with better reasons than "It's Shiny" -- which is my favorite reason -- but then directed me to an article by the co-writer of Jesus For President, Chris Haw.  You can find the link here.

Haw's reasoning for thinking he really shouldn't get an iPhone boils down to these main points:

  • He can't afford one
  • We should question what some have called a "messiah phone" and about which the advertising says, "Everything will change"
  • We should question what problems this iPhone is really going to solve, regardless of our claims.
  • It probably won't really save time and any time it does save is probably not worth all of the hidden social or ecological costs of production.
  • How does this help us remember the poor?
  • The Amish seem a lot more grounded in the sacredness of life.  Perhaps we need less, not more electric gadgets in our lives.
  • Advertising is all about seductively lying to us to tell us what we need.  By buying an iPhone, I'd only be buying into the lies.

Referencing poet Wendell Berry, Haw writes:

We might stop to ask with Berry: Am I happy? For my lapses in happiness, do I need more frequent access to music or 2x3 movies? Am I troubled by my lack of immediate knowledge of world affairs? Am I troubled by my distance from email, and should this distance be closed? Will I be closer to my friends if Facebook is in my pocket? Will the iPhone bridge the distance between the current me and that better me?

I think I have an answer to some of these questions, but not from my own witness. I have spent time with a community of Anabaptists that rarely use the internet. They read their local newspapers and scour the Economist magazines. They are demonstrably more aware of world events than I. And they are also markedly calmer, more productive and skilled, more caring for our society’s children, and more capable of producing practical solutions in their lives to serious questions about the water, food, and energy crises in which we now live.

Oh well, I guess I won't get one this year.
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