Book review: Reboot by Peggy Kendall

Posted Jul 19, 2011 | New Media Project

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By Kenetha J. Stanton


Reboot: Refreshing your faith in a high-tech world is a 2010 offering from Judson Press by communications professor Peggy Kendall. In this relatively short book (144 pages), Kendall provides a well organized exploration of the ways in which new communications technology is impacting the things we value, the nature of our relationships, and our faith in God.

Throughout her exploration of these subjects, Kendall takes the balanced approach espoused by media theorist Neil Postman that “for everything that we gain with technology, we give something up.” She clearly points out the many ways that technology has enhanced her world (and ours), while also accurately pointing out the pitfalls and drawbacks that are present as well. Technology is increasingly becoming not just a tool that we use to accomplish things, but our continued use and engagement with it is also something that is fundamentally changing the way that we relate to the world around us, including the way we interact with information, with other people, and with God.

It’s not about removing these technologies from our lives or refusing to engage in them; it’s about consciously considering and choosing the ways in which we engage in them to ensure that we are maximizing the benefits while minimizing the negative consequences. Too often in this world of ubiquitous gadgetry, we begin using new technologies without taking the time to really think through the ways we choose to use them as people of faith to ensure that our choices are bringing about the greatest possible good in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

This is what leads to her theme of rebooting our use of these gadgets in a more thoughtful way. As people of faith, we have the responsibility to actively explore these types of questions from a theological perspective to ensure that we are changing in ways that augment our lived faith.

Although Kendall is a college professor who clearly brings a great deal of expertise about communication theory and its impact on relationship to her discussion of this topic, the prose is always written in a way that is easy to follow and understand. She is quick to relate stories from her own life to demonstrate both the positive and negative impacts a given technology has had in her own life, which keeps the discussion very grounded and practical.

Each chapter comes with discussion topics, questions for further thought, and suggestions for implementing changes that make this a great resource not only for personal reading and exploration but also for book clubs, Sunday School groups, sermon series, or other group explorations of the topic. Her balanced approach to the topic would make this a great starting point both for those that are resistant to engaging with new technologies at all by introducing them to the many ways that other Christians may be finding these technologies supportive of their faith and worship and for those that have unquestioningly embraced many new technologies by leading them to consider whether they could choose to use them in more beneficial ways.

The book is available on the publisher’s website and via other booksellers. A four-week study guide containing a PowerPoint presentation for each week is available on her personal website for use with the book.

Kenetha J. Stanton, the research and administrative assistant for the New Media Project, is also a trained librarian.

The New Media Project is a research project helping religious leaders become theologically savvy about technology. To request permission to repost this content, please contact newmediaproject@cts.edu.

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