Let’s just get building the Digital Kingdom! #methconf #synod #judges #distraction #hope (@pmphillips)

It’s my time to write a blogpost.  But I am at Methodist Conference (#methconf) and I’m sat in my student room in Imperial College and pondering what I can actually write about.

I’m tired but I need to write.



I could write about the first chapter of Frances Booth’s book on The Distraction Trap. But I am too distracted. Well, I’m not, at least not in the way that Booth thinks I am. I am not distracted by digital technology. I’ve got it all around me – ipad, S3, macbook  All the people around me have smartphones and #methconf is twitter sensitive and digitally welcoming.

But I have lots of non-digital stuff around me too and am I distracted by that as well? Am I addicted to breathing? Eating? Public Transport? Research? To writing in notebooks? To reading agendas or one of the four print books I brought with me to Conference. Am I distracted by the joy of being able to contact other members of the Conference to see where they are or to pick up the vibe of the Conference? Am I distracted at being able to phone my wife and family or trace that delivery of the DVDs for the Lindisfarne Pilgrimage. Am I distracted by being able to do things more quickly so that I can give time to other things – you’ve all read the article about the mum who thanks God for technology connecting her or saving her time which she can devote to her kids (thanks for the h/t @willgrady) – some good stuff for @drbexl and her book on Digital Parenting.

O, Nicholas Carr, you have a lot to answer for.

I mean, can you actually prove all this neuroscience and explorations in neuroplasticity. Well, some people think it is all a bit over the top – see here and here. The brain has not evolved over the last decade. Evolution takes millenia even when Google is involved. Our brains are multi-adaptive organs which reflect the culture which we are in and multi-task as much as we allow them to. I am fed up of people saying that multi-tasking came about with the digital world – as though there was some halcyon days when we only ever did one thing and our brains were monotonously tuned into one thing and one thing alone. Medieval scholars had to multitask as much as we do today.



I was intrigued that Frances Booth asked us to pile up in the front room all of our digital devices and size up the enemy.  A kind of dualist approach – the enemy within. But what if you turned that around – pile up all your old technology – your note pads and letter writing material, the old newspapers, print books, magazines, pens, pencils, anything pre-digital. Aren’t these as distracting? Or is it because they aren’t shiny shiny that they seem less intrusive. Or because they hide in draws and on shelves and under tables. Why privilege writing in a notepad above typing on a ipad?

Perhaps I was just annoyed at yet another person telling us how bad technology is for us.

Perhaps I was just maudlin and thinking how much Conference seemed to be internalised and introspective.

If I was a proper #digidisciple, this blogpost should be about Judges and I was desperate to try and weave them in somewhere. But the world there seems so much more exciting and mythlike – like an episode of Game of Thrones or something. Swords plunged into fat bellies, warriors fighting hopeless battles and coming out smiling. Deborah and Gideon, Jephthah and Samson. People who got out there and got on with building…ummm…what? The Kingdom of God? Perhaps, but not the kind of Kingdom we’re used to in the New Testament. It seems a pretty uncertain kingdom, a place of uncertainty and jeopardy rather than the crystal clear certainties of some aspects of the contemporary. Indeed as Judges progresses things seem to disintegrate more and more and I’m not sure Samson is the hero we really think he is…a kind of anti-hero in many ways.



But then I wondered whether there was a link between our disintegrating reality (the bees, the wars, the revolutions, even the digital distraction – I’m reading too much of Dan Brown’s Inferno as well) and the reality of the world of the Judges…and the world of the Methodist Conference, perhaps even of General Synod with the Archbishop’s address pointing to difficult times and Linda Woodhead’s upcoming dystopic reflections

Perhaps it’s time we just stopped moaning about distraction and just got on and did some digital kingdom building.  But where to start? Me? I’ll write a book!

How about you? Where are you starting to build God’s digital kingdom?

Why not leave a brief idea, a phrase, a thought in the comments to enthuse other visitors?


Editor’s Note: Apologies for delay in posting, publish not pressed 🙂

About pmphillips

Pete Phillips Bio: I'm into the New Testament (especially John's Gospel), technology, literary theory, postmodernism, football and that kind of stuff. I am married to Theresa and we have three great kids (and a Westie called Grace). I'm a Christian and love the whole church thing, which is good because I also work for the Methodist Church in the UK. My formal job titles are: Director of Research for CODEC at St John's College, Durham University and Secretary to the Faith and Order Committee of the Methodist Church.