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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Technology in Church: Moral Decision Making in Mormondom #7

(This is an occasional series that discusses normative questions. Too often we do not consider the inferences and implications of what we do. In short, we fail to realize when a moral decision is necessary. This occasional series will do so. Readers are encouraged to pose their own questions and views in the comment forum.)

I've already discussed non-use of digital tools in my Moral Decision Making in Mormondom series. It is time to discuss when technology is overused. A recent Mormon Times article, "Are we too high tech at church?" gives some examples:

Fast forward to the present as I witnessed an Aaronic Priesthood holder check his text messages mere minutes before we broke and blessed the bread together. No kidding. This is not to mention a teenager listening to his iPod during testimony meeting. I’ve witnessed similar behavior with adults who should know better, too.

I’ve seen people loudly and obviously answer phone calls, and we’ve all heard blaring ringtones in the middle of church meetings. I taught Sunday School, and a young man pretended to be reading scriptures when actually his cellphone was tucked inside his triple combination and he was either texting or playing Minesweeper. How about people jockeying for a chair near the closest electrical outlet before class? Whatever happened to “Reverently, quietly, lovingly we think of thee”?
It is almost inconceivable to me that people could use just bad judgment in using technology. But then, many people think that being online is social media and video games. I'm online all the time and I rarely access social media and never play video games.
The bottom line is we should use what we have and what benefits us in life prudently and with minimal distraction to others. There is a time and a place. Is texting when someone is trying to teach a lesson appropriate? Of course not. Is reading scriptures from something not printed on paper inappropriate? No, and I’m sure I’ll get used to seeing it because it’s becoming more prevalent. Plus, I really shouldn’t care what works for someone else anyway.
All other gadgets used for the sole purpose of entertaining instead of enlightening should be left in the car or at home — unless you are an on-call surgeon, nurse or perhaps an astronaut. Brothers and sisters, a block time is only three hours. Surely you and whatever else is going on can wait.
I'm not going to condemn the use of all technology during Church. There are many appropriate uses including the teacher making use of it in classes. In addition, it is conceivable that someone may be spiritually prompted to check his or her email during Church and discover a loved one is in danger and emergency crews need to be dispatched. It's happened before and it undoubtedly could happen again.

Using technology in Church requires moral decision making. You need to ask yourself questions like:

Should I be using this right now?

Should I be doing this right now?

Could this use backfire?

Is this an appropriate way to teach a concept?

Could I do this better?

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! (I just re-watched The King and I)

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